Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out with the old...

As this year is coming to a close, I thought I would try to do my Top 10 Favorite Moments of 2008 - not in any particular order - just overall great.

10. Making our house into a diaper free zone!

9. Discovering a love of writing, due in part to Ally Condie visiting and NaNoWriMo.

8. Watching Will finally able to connect with the ball during a machine pitch game.

7. Seeing Ellie's face absolutely light up when she gets to dance.

6. Watching the fun Catie has everyday with a competent provider and her friends there.

5. Learning the joy that can be experienced in playing Guitar Hero and finding a good hair stylist.
4. Watching Enoch excel at coaching soccer and t-ball and playing ultimate frisbee in the Utah Summer Games.

3. Realizing I'm just five classes and a thesis away from a Master's in Education.

2. Getting to teach juniors and keep figuring out how to teach creative writing better.

1. Realizing that, since May, I read and reviewed 28 books.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Host

Well, I did it - I spent a whole day letting the kids play in their pajamas, playing too many video games and just hanging out, just so I could read The Host. But really, I have wanted to read it since it came out, and resisted in favor of doing what I should be doing. I figure I can take a day once or twice a year to just read, right?

I have heard many mixed reviews of this book in comparison with Meyer's others. Many say that it isn't as good, others claim it is much better. Here are my thoughts.

First, I really feel like Meyer's writing has improved and I don't know if that is because of the intended audience being older or what, but I didn't feel like there were as many instances where the description was as monotonous. The story is very well written, plot is phenomenal and characters endearing. I really liked how she wasn't so hesitant to let a character die, how they really have a true conflict, tests of courage and mandates for trust.

The best part? This book is over 600 pages long, but there wasn't a single instant that I felt I was reading through slow passages, that I didn't wish I could read just a little bit faster because I was so curious about the plot and characters, and I truly felt emotional ties to many of the characters, something that doesn't often happen.

Finally, I am in complete awe at Meyer's writing, her ability to produce such works of art while raising a family. Pop culture or not, Meyer can really write. The Host is amazing.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Two Days without Enoch

Enoch is going to be in SLC for a couple of days framing in the basement of his BFF, Greg (and yes, he would probably kill me for describing their relationship that way, but I find it hilarious) They are hoping to be back Tuesday evening, Wednesday at the latest.

I know it may seem silly, but I really hate being apart from Enoch. We have been married nine and a half years, but the number of nights we have spent apart is probably just over two weeks worth total. (Yes, I'm spoiled) I'm kindof fond of him for some strange reason.

Luckily, he bought me The Host for Christmas, which should take me some time to get through, and I still have this novel rattling around in my head begging to be written. Also, the Broncos play the Chargers tonight for life in the playoffs, I've got to plan a unit for A Raisin in the Sun, and figure out how I want to teach poetry to my creative writing class this time around. That doesn't count laundry, playing with the kids, cooking something or other, etc. I have more than enough to keep me busy.

But I still can't wait until he gets back. :)






Friday, December 26, 2008

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

This is a book that I picked up from Barnes and Noble a couple of months ago. The title was interesting and the back description intriguing, so I thought I couldn't go wrong. It's really nice when i am so right about something like picking a book that I have never heard of before in my life.

The premise of the book is that, in a male dominated society, there are some things women can do to still communicate with others, writing in a secretive language called nu shu to let families they may never see again and dear friends from the first dozen or so years of their lives, know how things are going for them.

The story is told from one woman's memories, a woman who has lived much longer than anyone anticipates. It starts with her recalling turning six, which is the age when foot binding is supposed to begin. She then describes all the wonderful and tragic things that happen to her and her family.

This is a beautiful book. I really couldn't put it down. It has given me hope for Chinese literature again (I HATED The Good Earth) and see that while women in ancient China were oppressed, their oppression wasn't always what we think it was. It is a wonderful story about friendship, dedication and love.

Really, it was amazing. I am going to seek out other books by Lisa See to determine if they are all up to this standard. If that is the case, I've found another author to add to my favorites.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Wednesday Letters

My sister let me borrow this book and I sat down this afternoon wanting a nice relaxing read while my cinnamon rolls were baking, and before I knew it I had finished this book. It is by Jason Wright, and when I heard the idea, I really expected an overly cheesy book that was "Awe, shucks, all marriages are wonderful" and the kind that says, "If you just do what these not real people did, you too will have the perfect marriage."

That's not what the book is about at all. I was hooked from the beginning - I love the stories where couples still snuggle in bed regardless of the number of years they have been married. I love that their kids weren't the little angels with their glowing halos. Faults makes the characters real and these characters were real and lovable at the same time but each for different reasons.

I'm glad that I read this book. It truly outlines what romance is - hint - it isn't moonlit walks on the beach or having over-the-top dates every celebration. :)

I'm really becoming a huge fan of Jason Wright. I love his writing style. I wasn't sure at first, I think I've mentioned that in both of the reviews of his books, but his writing is engaging, enjoyable and feel good without being disgusting. Enoch got The Christmas Sweater for his birthday and I know that Jason had some help in writing that. I have a list of books I'm trying to get through, but I'm definitely adding that one to the stack. I'm also going to just get Recovering Charles - have hesitated severals times, but since I've loved both the books Wright has written, I'm ready to commit.

This was a really good book.

Broken for You

This is another book that Danna gave to me at the first of the school year that I just got around to reading. It is an easy read, but a beautiful book. It is about an elderly woman who has a star in her brain, otherwise known as a tumor and lives in a mansion in Seattle. She decides to take in some boarders and the story begins.

Wanda, a woman who left everything to go across the country after a boy, of all things, moves in with her and their relationship builds and evolves, and is very real.


I loved this book. I found the perspectives and the complexities of the plot and the characters well done and wonderfully written. The way new people are brought in feels completely natural, the different storylines were woven together with great finesse and intracacy.

I couldn't stop reading it after I was about 50 pages in and found that I even had some moments to reflect about life in reality, how all of us are broken in one way or another and the different techniques we use to try to fix ourselves and others.


There is some language (that I didn't really feel was as necessary as it was used, but I'm just a sheltered Utahn, so what do I know) and some grown-up moments, but I really don't think anyone who hasn't had some trials in their life would know what do to with a book like this anyway.

I really recommend this book (yea, I know, you're shocked).

As a side note, this is my 25th book review on my blog :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

Here's our Christmas letter, we didn't mail them out
That's why your mailman didn't bring you one, please don't pout
Life has just been, well, a bit too busy
We've had enough work to make us quite dizzy
We hope you will please forgive the informal greeting
We really do think about you when all the treats we're eating
It is just a bit before Christmas at our home in Enoch
The new fallen snow made the winter picture scenic
We still have some cooking and wrapping to do
Trying to just avoid Walmart to make it through.
Tasha is writing and reading lots of books
Spending lots of time with words makes Enoch give her funny looks
His love is golf, he's always trying to improve his swing
Any info about fairways, clubs and greens is really quite his thing.
Will still loves his Lego's and any game with a ball
He is almost eight, in 2nd grade and getting very tall!
Ellie is our kindergartner, the boys are already chasing after her
She loves anything with music and is quite the dancer for sure.
Catie's just adorable, her three year old comments are very funny
She loves to color all day long, we wouldn't trade her for all the world's money
That's a summary of our family for the year 2008
We truly hope, wherever you are, your life is also great
We are grateful this holiday season for all our blessings here
We wish you a Merry Christmas with a joyful New Year!
Love,
The Seegmiller's

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Santa's Little Helper

I have been trying to get back to writing my book that I started with NaNoWriMo since December, but have been swamped with life.  You may have seen that I finished writing the Sacrament meeting program, but at school I have had all five of my Junior English classes working as Santa's helpers by answering letters to classes from three different elementary schools.  While it may seem like they are doing all the work, I also wrote about 30 and proof read, typed up the personalized labels for the envelopes for each class, put them in bags with tags from Santa and just delivered them today.  Helping Santa isn't as easy as you might think and I'm very glad for all the hard work he does every year.

I really like this project because it gets the kids writing LOTS without them feeling like they are writing lots.  They have to identify with voice, use correct grammar, and practice significant creativity, especially for the younger children who can only write that they love Santa.  

How many classes did we write to you ask?  Sixteen.  I think the average number of students per class is 21.  We wrote about 335 letters in all.  The best part of this?  With the exception of the few that I wrote this morning, all the letters were completed in three school days, or eight class periods.  I think that is pretty impressive, lots of fun and really good writing practice.

Now, maybe I can get back to writing what I want to write :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

2008 Christmas Sacrament Program

Well, it's finally finished - the Christmas program for my ward is written, approved, and with one more practice, will be perfect. I thought I would post it here if you are interested in a brief escape from the constant "buy, buy, buy" that gets thrown down our throats at this time of year. I also decided it would be appropriate to make the background tie in with the theme of the program, for a little ambience, but I find these a little hard to read after a while, so I don't think it will stay this way for long.

Enjoy and take some time to redirect yourself to the Light...
(some of the links have mp3's so you can listen and other just let you know where I found it if you find yourself needing to throw together a musical number anytime in the future)

On a quiet night, many years ago, the everlasting Light was sent down from heaven to illuminate the dark world. Heaven looked on in wonder and silent jubilation for a time before angels started sharing the most joyous news the world had ever known, for in a humble stable within a crowded town, the Savior of the world was born, and given a lowly manger for a bed. Very few were present to witness this arrival, but many since have wondered about the joy and peace they must have felt. As we are busy in preparations to celebrate that joyous event, let us pause often to remember, as the song states, “Where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.”

O Little Town of Bethlehem

The Christmas season provides us with many things, the opportunity to gather as families that may otherwise be apart, the chance to give gifts to show our love for those dear to us, and the occasion to once again ponder and celebrate the time when the earth received her greatest gift, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Very few events during the Earth’s history have warranted the arrival of a multitude of heavenly hoses, singing praises. The one we are most familiar with is the arrival of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Shepherds watching their flocks nearby were greeted initially, by a singular angel, who comforted them saying, “Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings or great joy, which shall be unto all people.”

The shepherds were giving instruction to find the Savior of the world, “wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” A multitude of angels then filled the sky, singing praises for the arrival of God’s beloved son, for the event that had been anticipated and told of by numerous prophets of old had occurred.

Born is the Light of the World

Over 2,000 years ago, wise men in the east saw a new star appear in the heavens. They, being learned, knew that this symbol was present because the light of the world had been born, bringing hope to a world of darkness. Seeing the appearance of the foretold light was such an exciting event that they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. They made the journey to Jerusalem, always keeping an eyes on the light to show them the direction they should go. They arrived to see the holy child, adorned with love resting in a humble bed. Following the light gave them the opportunity to be led to Christ and be witnesses for the child, and opportunity allowed to very few people.
The key for them was they were looking for the light, looking to be led.

Star Bright (Women’s Group)
We are only doing just a little of this in Spanish, but this is the only recording I can find of this beautiful song.

When Christ arrived on the earth, he came as the greatest gift our Heavenly Father could ever bestow upon mankind. His arrival wasn’t the only gift, he also brought to the earth the Light of Christ. “I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” the Savior said. “The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things. This light is further described in Moroni, Chapter Seven as that which “inviteth and enticeth to do good continually” is “given to every man, that he may know good from evil.” By using the Light of Christ to discern and choose what is right, we can be led to an even greater light: the gift of the Holy Ghost.
This light is the light of Christ. Our heavenly father gave us this light, with direction that it is our responsibility to maintain it and keep it going, to make sure that the Light of Christ is shining in our eyes.

President Faust explained, “What are we doing to keep the light shining in our own eyes and countenances? Much of that light comes from our discipline, dedication, and consecration to some important absolutes. The foremost of these absolutes is that there is a God who is the Father of our souls to whom we account for our actions. Second, that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. Third, that the great plan of happiness requires obedience to God’s commandments. Fourth, that the greatest gift of God is eternal life.
At times, it seems difficult to keep the light of Christ in our eyes, with the chaos that is swirling about us at all times. If we will but keep our attention focused on him, the same light that guided the wise men to Christ so many years ago will still be a guide for us.

The Star of Bethlehem

Much of our time during this season is spent wondering what we can give to each loved one in our lives, which will be a proper demonstration of the love we have for them. We examine budgets and think of interests and relevance of friendship to warrant the cost. The better gift would be to consider Emerson’s statement, “Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself.”

President Monson explained several years ago, “There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ. It is the time to love the Lord our God with all our heart and our neighbors as ourselves. It is well to remember that he who gives money gives much, he who gives time gives more, but he who gives of himself gives all.” Just as we have been given the Light and the Spirit of Christ, we have the responsibility to share it with all around us, inviting them and teaching them how to let the light guide their lives, especially in tumultuous times.

A poet wrote:
I met a stranger in the night, whose lamp had ceased to shine;
I paused and let him light his lamp from mine.
A tempest sprang up later on, and shook the world about,
And when the wind was gone, my lamp was out.
But back came to me the stranger—his lamp was glowing fine;
He held the precious flame and lighted mine.

Perhaps the moral of this poem is simply that if you want to give a light to others, you have to glow yourself. President Monson explained, "Look to the lighthouse of the Lord. There is no fog so dense, no night so dark, no gale so strong, no mariner so lost but what its beacon light can rescue." If we have even a small portion of the beacon of light from the Lord, we too, may have the opportunity to help or save one who may be wandering and lost.

Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy (Men’s Group)

When the Prophet Joseph Smith went into a grove of trees made sacred by what occurred there, he described the event:

“It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.” After enduring a harrowing experience from an unseen power, Joseph continued:

“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. …

“When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”

There have been many times when the darkness in our lives seems overpowering, unable to be conquered. Just as the light provided joy to the shepherds and wise men and offered comfort and enlightenment to Joseph Smith, we too can receive all the blessings our Heavenly Father has in store for us, if we will just have the trust to make the Lord our Light, our guide and follow his every teaching. Christ told us in Doctrine and Covenants 93:2 that he is “the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” That light that many search for in times of trouble is readily available, if we will just follow the wise men’s example and look for it, follow it, and trust that it will lead us to the source of peace and calm in a chaotic world, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Lord is our light and He will guide us.

The Lord is My Light

Closing Hymn Silent Night
(we are using a violin instead of a flute, and the congregation is just joining in the last verse)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'm dreaming...

...of a white Christmas!!! We are getting pounded with snow right now, and it looks like we are going to get snow all next week. I'm so happy I can't stand it!!!
I think Enoch's sharing my joy, but it's hard to tell...

The Friday Night Knitting Club

This was a book that I first was interested in when I saw it popping up on best seller lists a while ago. I almost bought it probably five or six times, and then, one day when I was using one of the two Barnes and Noble gift cards that I got for my birthday, I decided it wasn't my dime, but I was curious enough that it warranted an investigation.

I wasn't disappointed.

Kate Jacobs weaves in all these different lives of women, finding ways to keep each one unique and with their own challenges and their own ways to solve them. I love the determination and gritt of Georgia, the reality of raising a teenage daughter and the amazing complications that arise when James (aka Dakota's dad) suddenly shows up after more than ten years and thinks he can just jump in, included and upsizing her efforts with very expensive gifts.

This book is very well written. I didn't feel like there was anything in it that was just filler, and the whole time I was reading it I thought that I would recognize each character if I was to see them in the street. I think this is a very empowering book, kindof feel like it would lose some of it's appeal among male readers, but I could be wrong. I is for adults as there is some sexuality discussed and language at a few points stronger than I think most teens should read.

I will tell you this, though. There are some passages in there, that I am going to save to a file, word for word, to use for future conversations with all of my teens about discovering who they are, living up to who they can be and how to be the best them. There were many life lessons taught that I wish I would have known sooner, but it was done in such an amazing way that I felt like I could still use them in my life.

I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

William Joseph

When I was at my mom's house on Sunday, she showed me a new piano book that she had just bought, and I listened to a few tracks of it on her ipod.  The pianist - William Joseph.  I love his music, have downloaded his songs both on my home computer and my school computer and just bought his piano book as well.  

His music is classical, or the new sub-genre, classical pop.  If you like piano music, some with more of an upbeat tempo or the very classic yet somehow new, like songs like Homeward Bound or Ave Maria,  even if you are a fan of Led Zeppelin (he did an arrangement of Kashmir),  I promise you will enjoy this album.

He has a song that is called Butterflies and Hurricanes.  The song is amazing, but the idea of a butterfly in a hurricane I think is a poem or story just waiting to happen (hint, hint, Erin).  

Give yourself a treat, especially if you are feeling half as frazzled as I have been lately, and give William Joseph a listen.  You will be so happy you did.  You can preview some of his tracks here.  

If you were wondering, the one I am working on is Piano Fantasy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The poor, poor MBA

When I drive to work each morning, I tune in to 590 AM and listen to Glenn Beck. When he takes a short break, there comes a short blurb called the Neil Cavuto, who is a money guy, analyzes the stocks, various markets, talks about trends, etc. I really like it because I get a feel for the economy in 30 seconds or less, which really, is about all that I can stand anymore after having it dominate the news for such a long time. 

Every once in a while they throw in a little story about some real person to make it more relatable, bring it down to the average person, give us a tidbit that may make all the different numbers, percentages, trends, etc. more real.  

The story that they have run two days in a row now is about a guy who has his MBA, and the market is soooo poor that this poor man who is highly qualified with his magnificent MBA can't find a "real job" so he has to drive taxi.  He has posted his resume in the back seat, but so far has not had any calls.

Here is what ticks me off.  We have become such elitists that if a person has a degree and isn't immediately hired in a job that requires him or her to wear Italian power suits with $500 shoes and several assistants at their every beck and call, it is truly an indicator of the traumatic downfall of the economy.

I know the economy isn't great - I'm married to a contractor.  I just had my superintendent send out a message questioning the Utah budget that will continue to be allotted for education, which is kind of important to me, for some strange reason.  But the guy with the MBA?  Guess what.  He still GOT a job.  A job that is the sole income for MANY families.  He is making money, often very decent money, if he can drive well at all.  He isn't collecting unemployment, he isn't standing in soup lines hoping to find something to eat to give him strength through a day of job hunting.  Just because someone has a degree doesn't entitle them to a job, and an MBA just means he went to school longer - doesn't mean he is more qualified, a better worker, more experienced or even has a natural business sense. 

The story should have been, "Yes, the economy is bad, but guess what?  There are still jobs. People can still get work, pay some of their bills, and do something to contribute to society. Look at this MBA - even when he couldn't get the job he wanted, through his determination to be a success, he has found a job 
driving a taxi.  He has even had the ingenuity to post his resume in the back of his cab, where it will be seen by many day after day.  What an excellent example of American determination and desire to succeed."

Geez - you would think that that we expected money to grow on trees.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thank you Shannon Hale

One of the blogs that I love to follow is Shannon Hale's.  I haven't read all of the back postings, but I have been following some lately where she is discussing what is a good book, bad book, good writing, bad writing, etc.  I have enjoyed reading her comments and then all the comments that are posted in following up her discussion initiation.  

For many years, I tried to only read what I then defined as "good books" meaning mostly classics, very little contemporary and very "high brow" if you will.  If the author wasn't dead, it probably wasn't worth my time.  After all, I have an English degree, therefore if I was ever seen reading something that wasn't "English degree material," I thought people would think that I wasn't smart, didn't really deserve the degree I had, etc.  

I think that one of the best things that happened when I started teaching was that I started reading what I could recommend to my students to read.  Let's be honest, high schoolers, for the most part, aren't interested in Milton's Paradise Lost, most Shakespeare plays, Dickens, Chaucer, Hemingway, etc.  So I decided after I had several students ask me for recommendations of good books, that I needed to spend some time reading what I could recommend to them.  

I have never made a better decision in my life.  

Because of this little self-challenge, I have had the opportunity to experience Stephenie Meyer, Philip Pullman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Ally Condie, Alice Sebold, and just a portion of Shannon Hale.  It is so much fun to sit down and just read a good book, because I want to read a good book.  This is something that Hale elaborates on here which is what really got me thinking, and then she talks more about it here, this one is more from the writer's perspective. 
If you have time, you should read them.  I think you will find the discussion very enlightening.  

In the meantime - thank you Shannon Hale, for hosting such great discussions.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mothers of Daughters - REJOICE!!!


A federal judge has just ruled that ALL BRATZ DOLLS must be removed from shelves FOREVER in January 2009.  I'm so happy I almost cried a little.  Apparently, Mattel (aka the Barbie makers) sued them for something or other, I don't really care what because the result is that these dolls that came out just before my first daughter was born have been penetrating the doll industry (and clothes, and games, and TV, and books) and that I have hated everyday, will have to come off the shelves.  
           
I, along with most mom's of girls, am all about having my adorable girls in cute clothes, wanting to look nice, etc. But I don't want them, at the ages of 5 and 3, to look like they could make money on any corner in the greater Las Vegas area, which is what I feel these dolls are teaching girls. 
 
Without Bratz on the shelves, maybe the window can be opened for a great selection of cute dolls, whose message is all about sharing, kindness and helping out other friends - Strawberry Shortcake dolls!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Those Who Save Us

I got this book from Danna, a fellow teacher, a week or two before school started, and with everything that has been going on, I just didn't have the time or the emotional and intellectual sense to delve into a book about a mother and daughter in Germany during WWII. I'm very glad that I didn't try to force this book until I was ready to read it.  

This story starts with a young girl whose mother passed away and her irritable and erratic father makes strict and demanding look sweet.  It is also told about 40 years later from the daughter's point of view as she is researching German, non-Jewish people to get their thoughts on what happened in Germany during that time, what they saw but didn't tell, etc. 

This is an amazing book.  It was written for adults, there is a great deal of sex, as was standard during this time that the German soldiers would use their power to manipulate women into doing what they wanted for protection, and often more importantly, food.  I love Anna's whole story, seeing all the events leading up to the discovery of why she is how she is and Trudie's realization that life isn't always how one believes it to be.  

I highly recommend this book to those who aren't offended by sex and some language.  I felt it to be very real, an emotional roller coaster of a book, but in the end, heartwarming and redeeming.   

Monday, December 1, 2008

TIBTW Day

Sooo...today is December 1st.  No, I didn't get my 50,000 words.  I tried really hard, feel like I did a good job, but didn't hit my 50,000 words, which, being a goal oriented person, really, REALLY bugs me.  

Therefore, I dubbed today "Trying is better than wondering" day.  Yes, I took the authority today here in Wecmomland to make an official day.  So, like the dare I gave you, today is the day to try even if you don't think it is really possible to get it done.  

Really, what's the worse thing that can happen?  I think playing among the stars is fabulous!

On a side note, ten years ago today Enoch first kissed me.  Yes, we have been in each other's life romantically for ten years.  I'm thinking this calls for chocolate kisses all over our house, but since I just cleaned, I think I will do it in containers.  I wonder if I can still find some wax lips somewhere.   Hmmm.... 


Monday, November 24, 2008

This year for Christmas...

Buy a book.  You may or may not have heard, but there are all sorts of crazy events happening in the book industry - sales are lower, publishers are stressing, etc.  I'm sure, as a lover of books (yes, I'm making a judgement about you even if I don't know you), you can appreciate the fact that should books not be sold anymore, the world as we know it will SUCK.  I'm sure there is a better way to put that, but imagine that world for just a minute.  If you need assistance because your creativity just shorted out on you, grab Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. 

For Christmas this year, give books.  Figure out what it is the people you are giving to are into and give a book.  You can get some for under three dollars, they make great stocking stuffers, they are perfect for the people who have everything.  If you have a loved one who really doesn't like to read - books on tape/cd are good - or books that teach something about what they are interested in.  

Some suggestions (by author)
Shannon Hale
Jason Wright
Stephenie Meyer
J K Rowling
C S Lewis
Allyson Condie
Brandon Mull
Glenn Beck
Ayn Rand
Alice Sebold
Laurie Halse Anderson

Books we have loved at our house (mostly children's)
Dr. Seuss everything
The Polar Express
'Twas the Night Before Christmas
Collections of favorite characters - Strawberry Shortcake, Dora, Star Wars, etc.
Eric Carle
Harry Potter
Series of Unfortunate Events
Where the Wild Things Are
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Fancy Nancy
Magic Treehouse Series

For kicks and giggles, please post in the comment section the best books you have read so far this year, or your favorite of all time, etc.  Come on everyone - let's read!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Enoch!


Today's Enoch's 32nd birthday.  

I always get up before him (he is not a morning person) and woke him with 32 kisses all over his face (which he really didn't enjoy, but I thought was a blast).  To celebrate he is going to go play 18 holes in Mesquite on Friday and then he and I are going to spend some time in St. George on Saturday.  

I think the kids are more excited for it to be his birthday that he is.  We are going to make his brownies after school today and before dance and grab some Chili's To Go so the kids can celebrate with him. 

I imagine his enthusiasm will increase as the day goes on - like I said, he's really not a good morning person.  

So to pay tribute to my favorite husband, I thought it was only fitting that I share some pictures and a very short video.  I'm sure his actions will make you smile like they make me smile.  He doesn't read this blog except when I ask him to, so he probably won't ever know they are here, which, really, is half the fun. :)
video

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

David Cook!!!

I came home from work exhausted - I've been battling a cold for just over a week now, writing a novel (I'm almost at 50%), giving tests on Huck Finn, working on grading portfolios and trying to get all the kids rooms with accompanying toys and clothes sorted and put in their proper place in this world. Enoch brought home some Papa Murphy's pizzas (the new Philly Cheesesteak is amazing by the way) which I threw in the oven, helped the kids get started eating and ran out the door to attend a poetry reading by Utah's Poet Laureate, Kate Coles (it was awesome).

I headed to Walmart to try to find a little golf guy to go on Enoch's traditional birthday brownies with green mint icing (which I think look kindof like a golf course, so the little guy would have been good, but apparently people don't like little golf guys) and the other part of his birthday present when I saw the new CD one of my students told me was coming out today - that of the phenomenal David Cook.

David Cook is the first contestant on American Idol that has been worthy of my time to call and vote. He was the reason I even knew what was happening on American Idol last year - a show that I don't usually follow. I love his style.

Now, if you have heard the single he released as the winner of American Idol, and you followed him at all, you, like Enoch and I, may have felt a little jipped because his style clear through the show was rock, which I love, but the single was pop, which made me want to puke over the sappiness.

I wasn't really planning on buying the CD, but the beckoning price tag of less than $10, and the fact that there was only one left was too enticing to resist and I decided spending a measly ten dollars on myself after working as hard as I have been was the least I could do for myself.

My self generosity was rewarded. I LOVE his new CD! It is true to his rocker style with thumping base lines, syncopated rhythms, non-cheesy lyrics, some moments of wailing guitar and I grinned my whole drive home. I even called Enoch to come out and sit in the car (which has a Bose system and is the only way to first experience new music) and we tapped our feet along with the standard rock head bob (is there a proper name for that?) and both agreed that I was very kind in allowing such a spectacular person to receive such a gift.

If you like rockin' out music, awesome vocals and believe some CD's were just meant to be listened to loud, treat yourself. Enjoy some David Cook. You will not be disappointed.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Princess Academy

I picked this book up from another trip to Deseret Book after I heard rave reviews about Shannon Hale from Harmony and Ally. I had heard about her from others, but those are the two who get credit for me actually reading her books.

This book is about a mountain village where the people make their living off of harvesting stone from the mountainside and living a very rural, live off of the land, pastoral life. Then the soldiers come and tell them that their villiage was selected by the priests as the home of the next princess, all the girls within a certain age range MUST attend an academy to prepare them to meet the prince, who will choose one to be his bride.

I liked how the girls had to attain the knowledge before they even began to worry about their appearance, something that has always bugged me about other fairy tales - I think they put too much stock in the fairest one. I liked how all the girls weren't sure this was what they wanted, that the prince wasn't just head over heels amazing or enticing. I loved that the girls had to demonstrate their courage, maintain their own identities.

When Hale first started talking about the quarry speak, I couldn't understand how that could possibly be important to the story, but came to love how that element evolved and unlocked potential in all the girls, both in their abilities and how they came to evaluate their individual worth, not just as someone who can maybe marry a prince, but as someone who has something to contribute to their society and a gift they can share with others.

I'm so glad I read this book and can't wait to read it with my girls when they get a little older and slightly disillusioned by things that aren't as important as they may think. This was very enjoyable and I'm adding other of Hale's books to my to read list. You should too.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Treasury's solution to life

If you were a business owner and Paulson was in charge of your finances, how long would he remain employed?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Skinhead Confessions

I heard TJ Leyden speak out our Cedar City Library about three weeks ago and was captivated by his story. He grew up with an abusive father, who would only give his praise for injury TJ inflicted on others, generally his cousins, and then dragged through a terrible divorce. He finally found an organization that accepted him and showed him an out from a life he didn't really like. While still in high school, he became a skinhead, and continued to quickly rise through the ranks.

This book is completely captivating. It is amazing to me how easy it is for organizations like gangs, skinheads or whatever to draw in these kids. TJ outlines his recruiting techniques, the steps he would take to make the recruits stay. He explains how his military service actually made him better prepared for the cause of ethnic cleansing and depicts a world we would like to think is gone, but it is just as real now as it has ever been.

I was completely sucked in to this book, thinking about it constantly and unable to put it down. The story is sad, amazing, tragic and redeeming. This book gets a high score from me - I'll lend you my copy if you want, but if you have anything to do with children, you need to read this book. If you feel like you are at a point in your life where nothing matters and no one cares, you need to read this book. It is truly amazing. The transformation to someone with so much hate and back to someone with so much hope is unlike any I have ever heard of in my life.

You will be moved by this book.

NaNoWriMo Update and a Dare

Today I hit 10,000 words.  If you have been following this at all, and shaking your head at the insanity, that's 20%, or 1/5th depending on your tracking preference.  I really felt like I struggled to get to the first 5,000 words, not sure where I wanted to take the story, or where it was, but this story just seems to writing itself.  I'm getting ideas from everywhere, driving into town to run errands, seeing the way students act around school, listening to what my kids are saying.  I didn't think it would be this kind of experience, but I'm loving every single step of it, having the time of my life, and not feeling nearly the stress that I thought I would.  

On a side note, there is a TV show called Studio 5 here in Utah and it is doing a week long  (maybe it's a month long) series called Be Daring.  They were talking about how people just sit around saying, "Maybe, someday, I'll do __________" and someday never comes.  I thought it was great that this was the promotion they were working on at the same time I'm doing this, so now I'll issue the challenge to you - I dare you. I dare you to do something that you have been wanting to try forever, but keep putting it off because (fill in the lame excuse here) and just do it.  I was thinking about how much we challenge our kids to do new things, but often, as the parents, we really don't follow what we teach.  

Really, what's the worst thing that could happen?  I think the worst thing that could happen is wondering.  So, reader, I dare you.  

Friday, November 7, 2008

Christmas Jars

I got this book for free when I signed up to become a platinum member at Deseret Book (hey, for the amount of...time...yea, time! I spend there, it only seems worth it).  I had heard great things about it, from Glenn Beck in particular, and decided it would be a fun read.  Boy was I right.

This is a small book, but the story is captivating, heartwarming, and inspiring without being gag me with a straw sappy.  I loved how there was a plot with twists, characters with imperfections (because I really hate a perfect character, they just aren't real) and a heart warming message that would be easily achieved by all who read it, regardless of ANYTHING.  I was a little skeptical when I read that the main character's name is Hope, because that kind of sets the character up to be fabulous and perfect and sickening, but she isn't like that.  She is hard working, trying to make her way in the journalist industry, meets her trials head on, but still has her flaws, tough decisions and accountability for her actions.  

This probably took me an hour to read, maybe a little less, and with everything that is going on in the world, you really can afford an hour to feel like the world isn't all bad, to realize there are still good people, and remember that no good deed goes unrecognized. 

Go ahead, read it.  You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ten Percent

You may think this is going to be some enlightening post about tithing or some such, but no, it is about NaNoWriMo.  I have hit ten percent.  Yup, I just passed the 5,000 word mark, and I'm very excited because the story that I'm writing is really developing as I write it, with things happening that I didn't expect and ideas are a flowin' (yes, I just wrote that).

Oh happy day!  I was wondering if I would make this goal or not, but I am on my way now - it may really happen.

I figure I can write more tonight when I'm listening to Glenn Beck make fun of anyone and everyone during his Election Night Coverage. I don't expect most things to go my way tonight, and could do laundry, but really, I'd rather write. 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

NaNoWriMo

My creative writing class and I are going to be participating in a program called National Novel Writing Month, or fondly referred to as NaNoWriMo.  It is an online program that provides the support and motivation to people like me who keep saying someday to get just in gear and write. My students are participating  in the Young Writer's Program where they get to set their own goals.  I'm challenging them to try at least 10,000 but feel that there are many who can set theirs at 20,000 or more.  I'm also giving extra credit to those who can write more than me.  

How many words did I commit to?  50,000.  That is the number that an adult needs to do to "win".  Here are the series of thoughts I've gone through since I committed to doing this.  

This will be amazing!  I've wanted the chance to write for a while and this is it!

Wait, I have a full time job, three kids, Enoch's birthday, Halloween, football playoffs, when am I going to do this?

I'm a semi-organized person.  I can do this.  It will be good practice for when I start my Master's in January.

What the hell were you thinking?  You can't even get laundry done and now you are going to try to write a book?

What a great example this will be for my students to see me write and struggle along with them.  This is great.

Plot!  Characters!  Setting!  and you wrote your goal in Sharpie!  Sharpie's don't erase!

I still have two days to finalize the ideas before I start to write.  I still have two more days.

I only have TWO MORE DAYS!!!  I AM A MORON!!!

(serenity now, serenity now, serenity now...)

The lovely little calendar in the upper part will show the days that I did really good at writing and the ones I didn't do anywhere near what I wanted.  I'm posting this so others know, will keep me accountable and maybe I can pull this off.  

I now dive head first into my self-created insanity.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reunion


(If you have been following this blog at all, you will realize that I just had a five day break from school, therefore I have had lots of time to get lots of reading in... YEAH!!!)

This is the final book by Ally Condie.  I found them to be fun, when I wasn't reading them I was wondering what was going to happen to the characters, who would end up with whom, would Sam really go on his mission, what was going to happen to Cate (incidently I love the girl names starting with a C - reminds me of my Catie), would Addie warm up to people in general and not turn into a hate the world teenager, etc.

I am glad that I bought these books (even though I didn't get them all signed when Ally was here and I saw her at two different points over one weekend - definitely going to have to catch her next time she's down) because I know these are going to be great to go back to and read again sometime in the future, but I also have great confidence that my girls are going to love reading them.  Will may too, but probably not.  They are a little more chick-ish, but then again, so are the Twilight books, and I know men who get into them.  We will have to see on that one.

The characters stay true and are still real.  I do wish that I could have seen more about Mikey and her growth and development because I really like her.  I liked the difficulty the characters went through in making their decisions, and LOVED the last two pages.  That is hands down the best reunion ever.  

Saturday, October 18, 2008

First Day

This is the second book in Condie's trilogy, and it continues to follow Andrea and Ethan Beckett primarily, with the added individuals who impact their lives. It is definitely a romance type book, which isn't what I typically read, but I found myself enjoying my time reading and wondering what was going to happen to the characters.

I liked the coming of age process Ethan went through, not just baptizing millions (I just had an image of that scene in Saturday's Warrior when whoever that character is talks about the way he is going to change the world because he is going to baptize something like a whole new stake's worth of people, but then struggles - similar to Ethan but different struggle...kindof), struggling with the language, wanting to be the best, but just trying to understand the people and how to connect, etc.

I find myself relating in many, many ways to Andrea. Having had the title of Ice Queen among a few people in college, because I didn't take the time to sit and visit - I had things to do. It still comes out in me, and that is probably why I find her so endearing. Things don't work out for her according to her very well considered plans. Some of the changes are natural, a simple part of college and the realization of who and what she is, and others hurt because they are unexpected and impossible to expect.

This book definitely had a more romantic element to it than Yearbook but it was fun to see that Condie is still letting her characters go through the universal experiences, even the ones that aren't always the best, so they can grow up and maintain the realism. Again, they are fun reads and help with some little trips down memory lane.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What Happened, What's Coming, How to Prepare

Some of you may or may not know that I am a HUGE fan of Glenn Beck. I like that he doesn't have the arrogance of Rush Limbaugh, who I can only stand to listen to for about 10 minutes at a time and he doesn't end every argument with someone who disagrees by calling him a dope, with the highly intelligent sound bites of Homer Simpson interjected whenever or feel like he knows Americans so well, he can just call everyone "my friend" like Sean Hannity (and incidentally John McCain,). True, he shares the same values and faith that I do, but I find him relatable, intelligent and firmly grounded with a belief of what is wrong and what is right. Period. Regardless of what little letter someone has in parentheses after his/her name, or what color they think their state should be.

He recently wrote three letters to his family members talking about our current state of affairs in this country. He is honest, upfront, informed and caring. I just read these - found them to be just the answers to the questions I had and thought I should share. You can probably read all three in just over ten minutes unless you follow all the links, but I really think you will enjoy them.

Click here to find out what happened

Click here to what's coming

And finally, click here to see what I can do to prepare

I think you will find it worth your time and help maintain a little peace of mind (more coming on that in a bit...)

Tasha

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yearbook

This is the first of five books now published by my friend Ally. I bought a couple of them a few weeks ago when I saw that she had been published during one of my "I'm not going to buy anything in Deseret Book trip" (I'm about 50% by the way) and was both thrilled and a bit envious that she has accomplished this. Then I found out that it was about high school students and figured it would be a fun trip down memory lane. What I ended up finding out though was that this was a really great book to read.

This is the story of a handful of high school students, some of the LDS faith, others not, a couple teachers and a principal and how all their lives tie in together and lessons learned along the way. I found the characters to be very real without being "Molly Mormon" or the obvious lost soul who just needs to be baptized to turn his/her life around. I liked the telling from the different character's points of view. I liked that I saw a few of my friends in the characters - but I think that is part of the appeal because everyone has someone from high school who was just the way that one of these characters is portrayed. I see it in every grade that I teach - the girls who are Mikey's, the boys who are Dave's. They are universal, which is what I think makes the book so much fun to read and the plot so believeable.

I have her next book in the trilogy, First Day, and plan on reading it soon. I may have to drop some not so subtle hints to get Reunion for Christmas or something.

If you are interested in a fun and uplifting book, especially enjoyable after a bad/long day, this is the book for you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Raven

I'm so excited. I just got this tshirt today and yes, I'm fully aware that I'm acknowledging my own nerdiness, but that's okay, I think it's freakin' awesome! If you feel like embracing your inner Poe, you can get this shirt here

I felt that to really share my joy, I'd write a bit of a parody for Poe...(yes, I'm nuts, that's already been established. If you have any doubt, ask Enoch)

And so I sit here typing out, very glad I don't have gout
Watching Will set up a game to make his spelling not so lame
Ellie has a runny nose, mine's coming soon I do suppose
I got a new tshirt today, I feel so glad I've got to say
While I may seem a little weird, it's Poe - not me - who's to be feared
He wrote about a pit, a heart, how those of Usher fell apart
He was crazy in the head, no worries now - he is dead
Writing this shows I'm a nerd; but I know I've never heard
A raven above my entry door, calling out the name Lenore
Reading this may have been a chore, but I shall write it nevermore.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich

I found this book, Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich: and other stories you’re sure to like, because they’re all about monsters, and some of them are also about food. You like food don’t you? Well, all right then. by Adam Rex. (yup, full title) glanced through the few pages viewable (is that a word?) on Amazon and decided that I just had to have it.

When it arrived, I thought it would be a fun book to sit down with the kids and read, but they saw what was on Frankestein's sandwich and thought it was gross, so at the moment it is in my classroom. I just read several of the stories to my Creative Writing class when we were writing villain character sketches.


I think this is hilarious, and probably not as much a children's children's book as an adult's children's book. For instance, there is the story about the Invisible man needing a hair cut, Dracula getting spinach stuck in his teeth and the Phantom of the Opera gets "It's a Small World" or "Pop Goes the Weasel" or "B-I-N-G-O" stuck in his head.
I highly recommend this book - the illustrations are phenomenal and the idea brilliant.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Taking a break before the busyness

I had a great night last night.   Danna (fellow teacher) and I went to St. George without any kids and just went shopping for a while.  It was so much fun to get away from my busy schedule for just a little while and just walk around some stores.  I found two cute sweaters for a decent price, some jeans for my girls for Christmas and a couple of things from Costco.  Mainly, I just enjoyed the time to spend with a friend without having a gigantic to do list.

Now for the busyness that is heading my way.  This weekend, I plan on getting the rest of my grades caught up, getting my laundry caught up, writing a start draft for the Christmas program so I can get it approved by the bishop, prepping for the next couple of weeks, etc.  

I'm going to a book signing tonight for a great friend from high school (Allyson Condie) who has published four books - the most recent is Freshman for President.  There is another CHS football game tonight, and I'm hoping beyond hope for a win, but Pine View is HUGE.

I have promised the girls that we are going to make cookies and breadsticks soon, so I will probably do that tomorrow - we are supposed to get some cold weather and it sounds really good to eat homemade soup and homemade breadsticks.  And best of all, my girls can help.  

My father-in-law has a bunch of peaches on his tree that I'm going to try my hand at drying - moments of work followed by hours of drying.  I think they will be good.

Finally, I have just finished looking into my status for getting my Master's and have realized that I'm just five classes away from getting my Master's (and subsequent raise) and Enoch and I think now is as good a time as any to get that done.  So I have to round up the letters of recommendation and get things in order to finish these classes and be done.  

Let the busyness begin.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Will's Scuba Drawing

Will just made this picture tonight and then decided right before bedtime that it needed a scuba diver taking a picture of all the fish. He is very much into science right now and loves to create pictures like this. We go through reams of paper at our house.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Meniscus, dead birds and jack kniving, oh my!

Saturday started out like any other day but Enoch had the chance to play in an Ultimate Frisbee Tournament at SUU and we all went in to watch.  During the first game, he planted hard and popped out his knee.  According to the Physical Therapist who lives by our parents, who looked at his knee on his front lawn after church on Sunday, he probably tore some meniscus.  We should probably get him an MRI but at this point, he seems to be not hurting as much and it never really swelled up so, and since the economy is not at all stable, and discretionary income is something we are lacking to just throw into that test right now, I think he is just going to keep taking anti-inflammatories and wear a brace when necessary.  He poured concrete yesterday and said that he couldn't bend or straighten it out all the way, but that it didn't have pain, just stiffness with it.  

Then, as we were driving home from the tournament, we had a pigeon sized bird smack right into our windshield of our Yukon.  I don't think it did any damage, I'll need to wash it to see if there is anything else, but needless to say all that we saw behind us was a mess of feathers.  I am confident that bird didn't survive.  The thing that was strange about that was the bird didn't really look like it was trying to get out of the way.  It didn't change direction or try to fly faster or anything.  I think it was on a suicide mission.  Sometimes, when you aren't the early bird, it just doesn't seem worth it anymore I guess.

You would think at this point that we would have just called it a day, but Enoch had a trailer full of trash that really needed to go to the dump so we loaded the kids in the Yukon, threw on a movie and headed to the dump.  Enoch turned onto the freeway, so we could maybe avoid an all day dump run, but within a couple hundred yards of being on the freeway, we had a semi pass us.  We were only going 60 mph but it was enough to fill the trailer with air and make it start to fishtail.  Enoch tried to get the car under control, gently pushing the brakes but then we started to lose control of the car.  All that was left to do at this point was stop the chaos, so Enoch slammed on the brakes, our tires squealed and we ended up spinning 180 degrees before our car stalled.  Lucky for us, the cars behind us were paying attention and stopped before hitting us head on.  

Yes, we still went to the dump.  

No, not one car stopped to see if we were okay.  

No, I didn't scream (I'm not really a screaming type of person).

Yes, I completely held my breath and could hear my heart beat in my head.  

Yes, the new rule is that trailer does not go on the freeway EVER again.

Needless to say, it was a Saturday that we do not want to even come close to experiencing again.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oh, it's coming

This year, like last year, I'm in charge of writing and finding the music for the Christmas program. This year we are doing a theme of light - star that appeared, Christ being the light of the world, the light in us we can share with other, etc.

In case you were wondering there are fewer than 100 days until Christmas. To provide a little motivation, I decided to steer away from the Christmas carols and decided instead I'd just post the program I wrote last year as a reminder to get my butt in gear - if you are in charge of this like me, or think you might be in charge of it sometime in the future, feel free to steal/borrow any or all of this.

Happy Stressing!!!

Most of the songs are from Sally Deford. If you want to hear them, click
here.

Opening Hymn – Joy to the World - Deford
Ward Business and Sacrament

Speaker 1: It is once again that time of year when we gather together to celebrate the joyful time that was the birth of Jesus Christ. In this season of giving, we commemorate the greatest gift that our loving Father in Heaven could have ever bestowed upon us, His only begotten son. In a humble stable, a room put to use beyond the function of a primitive cave, our Savior and Redeemer entered this world in the most humble circumstances. Centuries prior to the birth of Jesus, prophets and civilizations looked forward to the arrival of the one who would be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The
Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. This event was so magnificent that along with the appearance of a new bright star, the heavens opened and choirs of angels assembled. In an unprecedented gathering, they sangGlory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Angels We Have Heard on High -Deford– Choir (2:40)

Speaker 2: In Ancient Bethlehem, few were aware that the most anticipated event of the world had taken place, except for a few fortunate shepherds in a nearby field who had the opportunity to be witnesses of the arrival of the greatest individual the world would ever know. The shepherds left their precious flocks and rushed to see that which the heavens proclaimed.
We cannot know what they thought they might find, only recalling what they may have known from whatever scriptures they knew. What they discovered was a scene so magnificent and so sublime that they couldn’t help but tell everyone they knew, making this amazing news known abroad, and all those who heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Away in a Manger-Deford – Choir and Young Women
(young women sing 1st verse and then the obligato part for instrument with the same words as the choir) (3:20)

Speaker 3: Mary brought forth her
firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger. Often nativities are represented in this way, with the baby Jesus in a manger, and parents Mary and Joseph looking over him adoringly. Imagine the scene that is all too familiar with the variation of Mary, alone with her baby after the shepherds have looked on in amazement and the angel’s songs are over. She had the opportunity to hold him lovingly in her arms, adore his tiny features and think about the incredible love she had for her helpless infant who even as a full grown man would remain eternally innocent. For even just a few precious moments, Mary had the Savior of the world, her own personal Redeemer, all to herself. “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

Mary’s Lullaby (women’s trio)
– Relief Society Sisters (4:30)

Speaker 4: In the 11th chapter of Matthew, verses 28–30, the Savior says: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [
Matt. 11:28–30] President Ezra Taft Benson taught us that, “Christ’s great gift to us was His life and sacrifice. Should that not then be our small gift to Him—our lives and sacrifices, not only now but in the future? …Yes, men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life.”

I Come to Him- Deford – Choir (5:30)

Speaker 5: It is impossible to take account of all the miracles that Jesus has performed since the beginning of time. He created the world, gave life to mankind, taught, encouraged, corrected and loved. During his physical life on this earth, he fed thousands, healed the blind, deaf and lame, cast out spirits, taught forgiveness and the principle of unconditional love. His performance of miracles continues still today. He lifts the spirits of all of us when we long for compassion during our darkest hours. He offer guidance when our souls are worrying and troubled. During the times when our souls hunger, we can utilize the lifeline of prayer and feel the comfort of knowing that God and his Son Jesus Christ hear us individually, love us individually, and will guide us to the path that will allow us to heal and learn, renewing our covenants with him and teaching us how to develop a greater love and peace for ourselves and all mankind.

Jesus, Savior (Ave Verum) – Duet (3:40)

Speaker 6: Jesus Christ courageously fulfilled this sacrifice in ancient Jerusalem. There in the quiet isolation of the Garden of Gethsemane, He knelt among the gnarled olive trees, and in some incredible way that none of us can fully comprehend, the Savior took upon Himself the sins of the world. Even though His life was pure and free of sin, He paid the ultimate penalty for sin—yours, mine, and everyone who has ever lived. His mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish were so great they caused Him to bleed from every pore (see
Luke 22:44; D&C 19:18). And yet Jesus suffered willingly so that we might all have the opportunity to be washed clean—through having faith in Him, repenting of our sins, being baptized by proper priesthood authority, receiving the purifying gift of the Holy Ghost by confirmation, and accepting all other essential ordinances. Without the Atonement of the Lord, none of these blessings would be available to us, and we could not become worthy and prepared to return to dwell in the presence of God. (Ballard, 2004)
He submitted Himself, and they took Him and in mockery crowned Him with a crown of platted thorns and placed a purple robe on His back. Without mercy, and with hatred vile and intemperate, they beat Him and scourged Him and cried out for His crucifixion. He had done no evil. He had done only good, and in greater measure than any man before Him had ever done. Yet they cried for His death.

He staggered under the weight of the cross on which He was to hang. They nailed His quivering flesh to the unyielding wood. They mocked Him as He hung in agony.

While suffering, He forgave them. He cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (
Matt. 27:46.) And then He died for each of us. In dying, He brought about the redemption of mankind. None can fully comprehend the extent and wonder and majesty of that sacrifice in our behalf. Suffice it to say, He became our Redeemer. (Hinckley, 1992)

I Stand All Amazed- Deford – Choir (6:00)

Speaker 7: Of all the victories in human history, none is so great, none so universal in its effect, none so everlasting in its consequences as the victory of the crucified Lord, who came forth in the Resurrection that first Easter morning. (Hinckley, 1992) God, our loving Father in Heaven, has said that it is His work and glory “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). It is called the gospel of Jesus Christ because it is the Atonement of Jesus Christ that makes redemption and salvation possible. Through the Atonement all men, women, and children are unconditionally redeemed from physical death, and all will be redeemed from their own sins on the condition of accepting and obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ (Elder Uchtdorf, 2007) Because Jesus Christ lives, we can live our lives with hope and gratitude. Because he lives, we can walk through the valley of the shadow of death and truly feel no fear. Because he lives, we can rise from our challenges, join together and rejoice in the knowledge that because he lives, we too, along with all our loved ones, can live again.

Because He Lives- Deford – Choir (7:00)

Closing Song – Choir and Congregation – Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Friday, September 19, 2008

Love Greed

To see more by this artist, go here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dusting off my cape

I am having of the few days in the last week where I once again feel like I am on top of what is happening in my life.  I hate being a react parent - I like to be on top of my game and ahead of the chaos (granted, while I'm saying this I have a mountain of clothes to fold, but that is just turning into my norm).

I have prepped what I am going to teach my juniors for the rest of this week and next, have a whole stack of papers that I need to grade, and a story that is rattling around in my brain so much that it has infiltrated my dreams and needs to be written, but I know what I am cooking for dinner tonight, am prepped fully to teach tomorrow and am excited about what is happening with creative writing.  

Next week is homecoming, I'm going to get my visiting teaching done Tuesday night, have a teacher skit for Thursday and will be getting a presentation on a neighborhood that Enoch and I are considering for our home in the next 12 months or so.  Enoch has had lots of work this week, Will has earned 100% on his last two spelling tests, soccer will be over this week, I'm playing a musical number with my mom on Sunday and may even have time to keep reading the Invisible Man (Elison not Wells).  

Granted, to some this may seem like semi-organized chaos, but I'm feeling really good about it. 

Watch out world, I'm no longer stressed and ready to conquer.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Things Fall Apart

This is a book that I had been trying to get to for a year, and when I finally started reading it, I found that I was completed enthralled with it.  It is based on an African society where a man who is left nothing because he has a selfish and lazy father, works hard to build up a homestead and family.  He has to prove himself and does so in a wrestling match as well as several times when he proves his leadership prowess.

There are several tragic elements of this book, having an accident suddenly throw a completely unforeseen curveball, people who enter the society to show them how wrong they are and the strong tradition being disregarded because a new group of people say it should be.

I knew this was a tragic book before I began reading it, but was moved at how brazen the missionaries are concerning the traditions of the area they proselytize.  I would hope that this is no longer the case, but that those who go to help a people allows the two cultures to mesh together and join to form one that can embrace both beliefs.  

I had sympathy and a little bit of cynicism for Okonkwo because he made so much of himself the first time he had to do it, but then just gave up the second time, living in frustration, despair and anger.  I can't help but think that there may have been a chance for him and his society if he had just shown the determination during all his trials throughout his life that he did in the beginning.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand a different society better, enjoys reading and doesn't mind terribly when the reading goes a little slower because the language is more complex.  Chances are decent I will read this again and again, knowing that I did not get all there is to understand during my first reading.