Monday, November 30, 2009

Didn't Win Again

In sixteen hours, NaNoWriMo will be over again. I realized about November 15th that I wasn't going to meet my goal this year. I have a terrific idea that I'm thrilled about and can't wait to explore. But this year, things just didn't click the way I hoped they would after having participated last year. Here are some reasons why.

1. Last year, I wasn't taking any Master's classes. And granted, this semesters classes were a joke and a half, including assignments about how to integrate a yo-yo into my classroom and how to
validate information about a half-human half horse from the Enquirer (really?) but they still took up time, energy and all creative ideas.

2. I'm in a primary presidency that is the most fluid I've ever experienced. We have teachers who won't call in subs, not enough people to fill callings, more people leaving...I guess this isn't uncommon right now, but since I was put in as the second counselor in July, we have never had enough teachers for everything and we still don't have a secretary. It's kindof a frazzled time in our ward right now and I am feeling that as well.

3. I have more kids involved in more things, and not even over the top. Will has scouts every Tuesday, which is also the same day Ellie has dance and every other one, I have a presidency meeting. Just people going places.

4. We have been SICK. My kids missed the first part of November with either Swine Flu or Influenza A (they aren't even testing anymore) so that was a stress to find people who could cover as I only have so many days I can take off from school. Then I spent a week with an annoying dry hacking cough that only flared up at night, you know, when I was trying to sleep. Throw in Thanksgiving, my kitchen experiments, my quest to not eat out, and writing just didn't make it to the top of the priority list.

What did I learn? Well, for one of the first times in my life, I let something go. I have learned that only I can determine the size of my plate AND how much to put on it. I really wanted to have success this year, but it wasn't essential. I think my ability to let that go made this past holiday much more enjoyable and I'm thrilled with the experiences I'm having with my kids.

Last night, Will, Ellie and Enoch played Apples to Apples, Jr.
They are getting old enough that they can think in abstract terms, make comparisons, etc. It was HILARIOUS. Catie and I played UNO (minus the Draw Two and Draw Four cards so the game doesn't outlast her attention span) I love it when she wins. She raises her little hands above her head (touchdown pose) and says "YEESSSS!" That's my girl.

Another positive from this experience is that I now have two stories I can work through. I would really like to get them to the point where they are publishable, whether or not that ever happens. I enjoy writing and really think it is going to be just what I need in the future, when the Master's is done, and I want that creative outlet. And yes, I have every intention of participating, and winning, next year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Gift For Your Gifts

Here's a secret fact about me.

I can't crochet.

Or knit.

Or really do much that requires any manipulation of thread.

I once sat down with my mom to quilt and bent three needles beyond use.

In 20 minutes.

What I can do is write little ditties about thread. My mom recently wanted to send a doily she made to her friend who is serving as a mission president's wife in NY, but didn't want her friend to think it was just a doily.

Are you getting the feeling that my mom and I don't really share talents? In case you are wondering, remember this?

So, for her to not "just send a doily" I wrote her this poem. If you are one of those people who are talented like my mom, feel free to use it (just please give me credit...).

Some say this is just a piece of string with many knots and holes
What makes it more than this is the journey that it knows.
It started with a bit of hop, a dream of what may be
Just as this is more than string, you're more than a friend to me.

The knots are times I've hurt and struggled through trials, heartache and tears
Your encouragement, smiles and simple love helped me improve through the years
The pattern in this little string was made with time and good intent
This string, now more, demonstrates what your friendship has meant.

I hope you may find in your home a place where this string can do its part
Add some kind of delicate grace as you have done for my heart.
The laughter and tears we have shared leaves no room for just in the end
This string has become much more, as have I, for I have you as my friend.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Battle of the Labyrinth

This is the fourth book in this series, and the most enjoyable read up to this point. This takes Percy into the mythological labyrinth, as it is guessed that there are answers in there that can actually stop the forces of evil and provide some protection to Half-Blood Hill and the world.

Percy journeys down into the labyrinth with Grover, Annabeth and Tyson and we get to see a fantastic fusion of Riordan's imagination accompanying some of the most famous storylines in Greek mythology. In this book, the reader gets to meet Hera (what an interesting woman she turns out to be, not like you would be terribly surprised if you know anything about Greek mythology) as well as some known and lesser known people from the Greek society.

I felt like this story moved a little better and the complications, while still based on the mythology, seemed more probable. In some ways, the complications in The Titan's Curse seemed very forced and impractical, even for such a piece of fiction. Everything that happens in this book would have me thinking, "Yup, that could completely happen." Probably my favorite of the series so far and really got me excited to read the last one, but a little sad at the same time, because I have had such joy with this series, and I know there is only one left.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Titan's Curse

I just realized I didn't ever write the reviews for the rest of these books. I finished all of them in the middle of October, will get caught up now.

Just an FYI, these are getting more difficult to write about because I don't want to give anything away here that will affect your experience reading of the earlier versions. I will do what I can and try to avoid being too cryptic in trying to avoid any spoilers from previous books.

The Titan's Curse is the third book from the Percy Jackson series. I loved the beginning of this book. Percy and Annabeth are on their way to a school because they have received a distress call from Grover. What I found hilarious about this is that they have to get a ride to the school and have a very typical conversation on their way. He goes into the school and makes a discovery that truly made me shocked and not really surprised at the same time. In this book, we get to meet Artemis (goddess of the hunt if your mythology is a little vague) and learn that there are other creatures besides demigods who are battling against the ancient evil forces entering the world.

This book is like the others in that the journey to solve the new complications take these characters all over the continent (and beyond). While I felt that parts of the plot of this book were a little forced, I did like that the characters developed some depth beyond the angst ridden teens who have gods for parents. We learn more about the history of some of these characters, which was helpful in wanting to complete the series. This one wasn't quite as much fun for me to read, but that being said, I still didn't want to stop, couldn't put it down and was surprised at the twists that were created. And, it segways perfectly into the fourth, which is already out, and for which I will have a book review....tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Multiple Intelligences

When I first heard about this theory, I wondered why it took so long for me to hear about it. I truly believe that people are just wired differently, that they can all learn the same thing, but take in the knowledge in different ways.

I just took this little test. I like doing these things even though I'm never surprised at the results. I was a little shocked that the math was so high, but I guess the analytical part of me would fit there well.


If you are interested in taking this yourself, go here

Monday, November 9, 2009

That Self Improvement Thing

So I'm trying to be a super-fantastic homemaker working mom who makes delicious meals, is warm and supportive and maintains my sanity. But I have this not so secret ambition of being a writer and NaNoWriMo provides me with that opportunity.

I'm feeling a little frustrated (note: not stressed, frustrated) because I just am not getting the time to write that I would like. So the idea enters my mind to just upload what I did last year and add to it for this year and then I would be further, still working on a great story (great in my mind at least and mine is the only mind to have seen it so far) and then I could get that sense of accomplishment. (Okay, it would be a false sense, but sometimes the validation is worth it, right?)

Sometimes things are much harder in reality than in theory. Self improvement is definitely one of those things.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Influential People

I'm pretending to be more thoughtful, grounded and in tune with my life. I've been recording and watching people who have done presentations on BYU TV and doing things to try to fill my spiritual cup as being in the primary doesn't always do it.* Then I saw this prompt and decided to participate. Please note, these are in the order as they appear in my head - not necessarily in order of importance.
1. Mary Ellen Edmunds
I remember hearing about her when I was young. Her niece, Noelle, was one of m dad's favorite students (yes, teachers have favorites) and my dad had her tape Love is a Verb. Being an English nerd since about 1st grade, I liked the idea that she was taking a word and explaining how it was a certain part of speech instead of another. But after listening to her tape, I was in awe of her sense of humor, of her ability to laugh about things - even when they didn't go her way, and how she had a perpetually cheery disposition. I tend to be a skeptic and over analyze things to the point that they aren't funny anymore. While I consider myself hilarious, others have always thought me to be too serious - something I'm trying to fix. Apparently dry humor and sarcasm isn't appreciated by all people. Who knew.

2. C. S. Lewis
I love Jack's writings. I have re-read Mere Christianity several times (although not since I entered blog land. Need to do that and get a book review back up). I was moved by Surprised by Joy. I really feel that my true healing after my first miscarriage came from reading A Grief Observed. I find him to express his emotions in a way I'm just not capable, to have a wit that I miss in our current society and loved that he didn't avoid talking about any topic just because someone thought he should. I wish we had more people like him.

3. Dallin H. Oaks
I adore his no nonsense way of talking about things. I'm sure part of it is from being a lawyer and judge, that he just says things as they are. I appreciate the integrity of people like him who aren't worried about being politically correct, can say things flat out and aren't offensive - he has a great deal of tact. Additionally, I was very impressed with the way he dealt with his wife passing and the issue of getting remarried. He exudes class.

4. David Lee
He was my Intro to Poetry professor and taught me about John Milton. I don't know that I really thought I was smart until I took his class. I developed a love for language, for words, unlike any I had before. He taught with a passion that was unparalleled, would tear up in front of class at the beauty of language, and get completely fired up over issues about which he had a definite opinion. I first thought I could get education beyond a Bachelor's because of him.

5. Sergei Rachmaninoff
This man could compose emotion into music in such a manner that even after I have heard his works several times, I still feel the emotion. His third Piano Concerto (2nd too), Elegy, Preludes for the piano, and Vocalise move me. There are amazing deep tones that only a Russian seems to really know how to use, and the tragedy that was in his life is portrayed through those notes in such a powerful way. He, Saint-Saens, Beethoven and Shostakovich are my favorites. (Cheating there....I know).

6. Laurie Halse Anderson
I have this dream to be a person who can manipulate language in the way she does. I haven't read a story by her that didn't move me, stay with me for days and leave me in awe at her talent. She can capture a voice with her characters that feels so real that I feel like I know them. She is not afraid to share her opinions, is very grounded in her life and just is herself (as far as I can tell from the writings on her blogs). Impressive.

7. Parents
One of the greatest compliments I can receive from someone is that they think I'm like my parents. They are two of the most driven and hard working people I know. I have the my work ethic because of them. They are firm in their faith, determined to improve and the example for my life.

8. Jeffrey R. Holland
He's got a temper, is passionate, well educated and calls it as he sees it. His love of literature and incorporation of it into his talks was what first drew me to him, his eloquence and passion about topics made him climb the list of people I adore to hear. His talk "How Do I Love Thee" is one I listen to each year - moves me to tears. I would like to think I love that much.

9. Carolyn Keene
I LOVED Nancy Drew. I read them all, re-read many and adored them all. There are few things that made me more upset than when I saw the spin they were putting on movie they just released. These books fed my desire to read, were cute, logical and perfect for a reading crazy girl. Someday I want to get a collection of all of her original books in hard bound for my house.

10. Enoch Seegmiller
Last the best? Maybe. Many of you may know that this guy and I have known each other since elementary, but what is funny is that so many of my really great memories involve him - even when we weren't dating. But he really started to change my life during the dating process. He helped me see myself in a way I hadn't before - to appreciate and even celebrate the craziness that is me, to quit trying to be everyone else and just be me. Sure, I married him and think he is the best thing in my life, period, but beyond that, I will never be able to thank him enough for person he has helped me become.

*An exception this was when our Sunbeams sang the first two lines of How Firm a Foundation - cried each time they practiced and in the performance. Moving.

Excitement and flying pigs

I look forward to sequels in many books, but when I saw the cover for this one, I actually clapped my hands and giggled a little. If you haven't read Shiver yet, give it a go. It's fun, cool (literally) and complete brain candy.

Still waiting for an actual publication date on the third Hunger Games....will let you know when I know...

Currently at 3600 words with NaNoWriMo - won't be working the next two days so I can be home with my swine flu infected children. Plan on baking, writing, playing games and cuddling.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I know, you think I fell off the face of the earth - not quite, but close. I have taken pictures of the different things I've been making. Our family has not eaten out (with the exception of a couple of times Enoch and I went on a date) since I posted and I'm feeling fantastic about that. I have lots of catching up to do and hope to get to it soon.

In the meantime, a few things.

One - it's November. Sure, you are thinking Thanksgiving, food, etc. I am as well and have some great plans, but it also means it is NaNoWriMo - if you were here last year, you may remember this is the program where I pledge to write 50,000 words in one month. Last year I was about 12,000 short, but I have the expectation to do better this time. I'll let you know.

Two, I really want to make more personalized gifts for people this year. One of the blogs I have come to love, Skip to my Lou, is doing tutorials, etc. to help people who have the same goals I do. There is a button on the right to lead you the way.

I'm enjoying getting back to something resembling homemaker land - I'll try to keep this blog more updated in the process.

Happy November!