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. :)

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.