Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Inside the Minds of Teens

I do bellworks with my students each day as an acitivity to have them come right in to class and get working. It keeps the order and lets me take care of the stupid housekeeping things. I like to get them thinking, get an idea of what they are thinking about, etc. This was a bellwork called Answers where I gave them a category and they had to fill out three answers. I just compiled some of them - some are hilarious, some are poignant, but they all are a decent peek into the mind of a modern teen.

What is quiet?

A corpse, libraries, serenity

What is sneaky?

A child sneaking a cookie, me using my mom’s credit card, ninjas, snipers, assassins, organized religion, Santa, the hobgoblin that lives under my bed, Mrs. Seegmiller

What is rough?

Discount toilet paper, sex, calloused hands, football, wrestling, puberty, talking to my father

What is impossible?

Figuring out why chickens don’t pee, flying without wings, cute newborns, guys, licking my own elbow, going a day without tripping, not getting a blood rush from hanging upside down

What is bright?

God’s love, girls, my soul

What is unhealthy?

Cancer, McDonald’s, not brushing teeth, raw eggs, brushing your teeth with Jack Daniel’s, jumping off cliffs, walking into walls

What is soft?

My friend’s biceps, my hair, pillows, my blankie, grass

What is proud?

A kiss, my parents, professional athletes, my mom (hopefully),

What is funny?

Short people, me, little kids spinning around until they are dizzy, listening to my generation speak, Ellen Degeneres, Brian Regan, Larry the Cable Guy, Dane Cook, Mrs. Seegmiller, my class

What is outrageous?

Birds flying into my window, fake nails, blinding white teeth

What is beautiful?

Mrs. Seegmiller, my truck, dirt, 1967 Mustang, girls, my friend’s mom, charity, books, my non-existent boyfriend, dancing, culture

What is depressing?

My bra size, dropped pizza, Edward isn’t real, running out of ice cream, divorce, that I will never be with Jacob, people who kill books with movies, my math grade, losing an entire PowerPoint, spilling juice on your shoes, people starving,

What is dull?

Me, Isaiah

What is empty?

My skull, my brother’s head, my bank account, my gas tank, my dad’s wallet will be soon, my love life, my dog’s brain

What is unbelievable?

Seegy’s wit, evolution, the big bang theory, bowling with a cast, September 11, Pearl Harbor, fairy tales, walking on water

What is striped?

The flag, student’s shirts, a bad tan

What is complicated?

Girls, government, soufflé, math, relationships, love, chemistry, lemon meringue pie,

What is frightening?

My mom when she is mad, old men

What is inevitable?

Farts, puberty, sagging, getting old, thinning hair, sorrow, taxes, death, adulthood, grades

What is green?

My dog’s poop, grass, shirts

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Visions of Sugar Plums?

I woke up early this morning. I really don't know why. It is one of those days when I can sleep until eight and still make it to choir by ten easily. Nevertheless, at 6:30 I was wide awake, thoughts racing through my head with complete abstraction and memories so powerful they were accompanied by the feelings from the experiences, but vague enough I can't remember them.

I had the chance to reconnect with a dear friend last night thanks to facebook. She moved to the school at the time when I really needed a friend. I remember finding out she was coming, that she could play volleyball and hoping with all my might that we would hit it off. We did. I consider her one of my very dearest friends from high school and am thrilled that we have found a way to keep in touch.

She is an amazingly gifted artist. As I was looking through her art and being completely blown away, I also started to have a guilty feeling creep in, that I have something of a gift or two that I really "have been too busy" to develop for the last several years. Enter the parable of the talents, the thought of trying to explain to my maker why I didn't do more, etc. That's probably contributing to the lack of sleep as well.

I have had this feeling for quite some time now that I'm not doing enough with my life. It's a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach, encouraging me to do more, which is strange because in the past when I have had these feelings they were usually associated with guilt. This one isn't. It's like a motivational Jimminy Crickett, telling me I can do more, pleading with me to do more. Then I have been listening and reading different people of success as they talk about their days, the prophet's days, and how they were able to get everything in because of the amount of day they got out of their day and their drive to do so.

I pride myself on my ability to be disciplined. For the last six years of my public education, I was up at six and practicing the piano. I miss playing the piano for anything besides church. There are works that come on all the time that I want to learn.

I now have two novel ideas that need to be developed. I think there are some characters in there that are responsible for keeping me awake.

I keep saying I will do yoga every morning, and I always feel better when I do, but then I don't for days at a time.

It's time I did better.
The image is from my very favorite tshirt, available here

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Chosen One

I first heard about this book when I was at the UVU conference earlier this year. I had the opportunity to have my manuscript read and proofed by this woman named Carol Lynch Williams. I really didn't know much about her, but adored what she did with my manuscript, the manner in which she spoke during our session and her understanding of language. Then, a teacher I work with offered praise and Shannon Hale reviewed it on her blog with great enthusiasm so I picked it up, read the first sentence and was hooked.

This is the story about a girl who lives in a polygamist community but who starts the book talking about how she would kill the prophet. She refers to her mothers with normalcy, cares for the other children without complaint and lives her life as she should. Her problem? She checks out a book from a book mobile, develops a crush on a boy in town and even starts to flirt with him. Then comes news that brings her idea of the future crashing down around her and makes her think thoughts that are will condemn her.

This is a very powerful book. Williams has an impressive utilization of description and created a character who is so real and authentic in her community that I really did wonder if Williams herself had lived in this society (she didn't). Sometimes when people write about communities outside of their own, the opinions of the community as an outsider are subtlety incorporated into the text. This was not the case with this book. I was completely floored and did not want to put it down at all. Delightful, powerful, emotional book. It is completely appropriate for anyone who can understand this society - probably middle school and up. I highly recommend.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Last Olympian

I keep losing track of time to write these - sorry. I picked this book up immediately after I finished The Battle of the Labyrinth. I didn't even want to wait until the next day, and I finished this in about four hours.

This is the final book in the Percy Jackson series. There are times when the final book rushes through, trying to tie up all the loose ends and just bring it to an end. There are many times when I feel a little disappointed at the end of the series because they are so rushed and even sloppy. Fortunately, Riordan paced this book well and it does not disappoint. I liked how the different characters from previous books were incorporated seamlessly, how the climax that had been hinted at throughout all four books was finally created and that it lived up to the hype I created for it in my mind. The battle scenes were just as I hoped, with wit and action and the proper interference by the supernatural to feel normal in the context of the books. I really thought this could have gone very wrong, with the gods all of a sudden utilizing powers they hadn't before, but they stayed true to the form Riordan created for them.

The worst part about reading this book is it is the last in the series. I have found myself wishing there was more, that the stories would continue. I know good things have to come to an end, but if immortals are really immortal, shouldn't they be able to continue with the stories, new adventures, etc? Anyway, I LOVED reading this series, am thrilled that I found them and am very impressed at the appeal from young readers to teens and even old people like me :) Really, if you are looking for a fun series for anyone who can read at this level or above, you will not be disappointed. I promise.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dear Santa

This is the time of year when many children write their letters to Santa. Here's the thing - there are many times in my life when I have to be mature, organized, responsible and put others first. But there are equally as many times when I sit down to a good meal and I do a little dance (seated, of course) because my food tastes so good and I'm hungry. I also will spontaneously grab Enoch and start dancing with him, which is a disadvantage to him because he can't hear the music in my head that I am dancing to (I just tell him he isn't trying hard enough). I'm quite a kid at heart. So, with that in mind, here is my Santa letter.

Dear Santa,

Thank you so much for everything you gave me last year to stay warm. It truly has been a delightful experience to sleep all the way through the night during winter because of my heated mattress pad, and I'm delighted when I walk in the door and my programmable thermostat has my house warm and waiting for me.

Here are a few things I would like this year.

1. I would like to be able to develop characters and use language like Laurie Halse Anderson. Please.

2. I would like 30 lbs to melt off me like the butter I keep leaving on my stove.

3. I would either like people to stop making movies about books, or, if they are to continue, to actually get the movies right.

4. I would like to produce literature at Stephenie Meyer's pace.

5. I would really like Will to not be scared to speak anymore.

6. I would like Enoch's golf game to include more birdies.

7. I am in my 30's and would really like to get over the whole acne thing. I've only got so many years before the wrinkles start kicking in and I would appreciate a few years of harmonious skin in the transition.

8. Please give Enoch a new truck. His stinks. Really. And I'm pretty sure it's contaminating the environment way more than the gas from cow farts.

9. Please bring me the magic dust you use to keep your shops clean. Elves are kids, right? And they keep things cleaned up a tidy. So obviously you are using some kind of magic dust. If it is a spray, that's okay too. I'm not picky. I could really use it on my girls rooms. Oh! I almost forgot about that whole naughty/nice list. I need to correct myself and stay on the nice list. I would use it on mine too.

10. I could really use a 28 hour day. It's genius, really. I could have two more hours to work and two more hours to sleep. It stays perfectly symmetrical, avoids that whole phobia over things with 13 and would allow me to get everything done in the day that I want to get done. I would appreciate it if you would work on that for me.

Thanks again for all you do, for the excitement you instill in my children's eyes, the way you make even the crabbiest old people smile and for your never ending kindness. I'm working on some amazing treats for you on the 24th that are delicious.


Oh! If you have some kids who want a kitten or two, I have three that have adopted us, and with three cats already, I really do have some to spare. Please leave the big ones, my kids love them.