27 October 2012

Pink Day!

supporting one of our cancer survivors! 
In case you didn't know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Last school year, two of the ladies in my department at CMS were diagnosed with Breast Cancer. They have both already had their surgeries and are back at work on the road to full recovery. Two other teachers have battled breast cancer in the past few years. This month, to support them, we wore pink on Fridays. We even got special shirts (you can see how we all match!) with a pink ribbon with their names on it, as well as "CMS is stronger than cancer!" 

Yesterday was our Lee's Denim Day. We all donated & got to wear jeans. It was really neat to see everyone in their pink shirts and show their support for these special ladies. They have been so strong inspiring through their journey and a great example to me! 

Ward Halloween Party

Last night was the ward Halloween party. Cassidy is a bit of a party pooper, so we didn't dress up. It was pretty fun. Cass even got to hit the pinata before it broke! Happy early Halloween!

I didn't get a chance to take my picture at home,
but I really wanted to show off my shirt :) 

24 October 2012

Mayfly Requiem

Lani, a child of time, is the narrator of Courtney M Privett's Mayfly Requiem. It is his apology, his requiem. And in his two thousand plus years on earth, he hurt his sister, Dia. But how? And why? And is his apology enough? 

It took a bit of time to get into the novel, to understand the character, setting, and style. Once I did, I liked the novel, the story, the characters. At times it was very gripping. At other times . . . not so much. It's a harder piece to read. It's not an easy book; you can't dive right in an read it in a sitting or two. Not to discourage you, it's worth the time to read. It's kind of fantasy, but almost mystic, too, I guess, but it's also a whole other world than this one. At first it seems post-apocalyptic or dystopian, maybe it is. I am having a hard time putting this novel into a genre, finding the perfect niche. But that's part of what's so neat about this book, is it's not quite like any other that I have read. But I wanted to know the ending, I wanted to know why Lani had to apologize, what he did. It kept me reading. I don't know if this "review" has done this novel justice, but I sure do think it's worth the read, so give it a shot! 

*I won this novel from Goodreads FirstReads. All opinions expressed are my own. 

23 October 2012

Spectra Point and Ramparts Overlook Hike

Last Saturday, Cassidy and I went for a Hike up Cedar Breaks. We did the Spectra Point and Ramparts Overlook Hike. I checked the weather beforehand, but only checked for Cedar, not for the mountain. My bad! It was a little chilly and windy, but I said we'd get warm once we got moving, plus the sun was out. (Luckily, Cass still brought his hoodie on the hike! I needed it on the way back!) 

The trail was super muddy, so our shoes got very gross, and there was some snow on the ground. It was a tough hike, but the view was amazing! The contrast of red rock, snow, and the bristlecone pines was pretty neat. 

View from the trail head, no hike required!
all muddy! And this was just the beginning!
a lookout point along the trail
I tried to climb the tree . . . no dice
Spectra Point
Soaking in all that is Spectra Point
more Spectra Point
Cassidy's Video, with even more of Spectra Point :)
Yes, he climbed over the protective railing . . .  

Back on the trail towards Ramparts Overlook
Bristlecone Pines
See? Totally cool! Not what you'd think at all!
I made it! But just barely . . . can I blame my tired legs and lack of balance in the mud on the baby? 
Ramparts Overlook
Squirrel got so angry at us! He was yelling and hissing!
He was right over head and I was nervous he was going to jump on me! 
You can't really tell, but the backs of my legs were all muddy too!
But I was so glad to be back at the car and done hiking! It wore me out!

17 October 2012

Something Wicked This Way Comes

I was inspired to read Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes from Steinbeck's Ghost because the Steinbeck-loving character also loved this novel by Bradbury. It's about two 13-year-old boys, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway, and their strange experience with a rather creepy carnival in October. It's a mix of fantasy and horror as well as an allegory of the struggle between good and evil. 

It was a little dense and required more putting together than I expected out of a young adult novel, so it's certainly for a more advanced young adult reader. It was written in '62, though, so I guess that makes sense for the differences in language. But really, I didn't love it. It's just not a very clear story, or really my type of novel. I recommend it for those who can handle the density of the novel as well as enjoy the dark poetry of Bradbury and, perhaps, Tim Burton? It does remind me of Burton in general . . . But I digress. If you like creepy horror-esque stories, give it a go. If you find your style is generally more in line with me, give it a pass. 

16 October 2012

Snow in Summer

I'm not gonna lie, I picked up Snow in Summer because it was on the new releases shelf and it's by Jane Yolen.  And it was exactly as I expected: a fairy tale base placed into a new time period.  Yolen places Snow in Depression Era America. The magic of the fairy tale is present, but not overwhelmingly unrealistic, just right where you want it. 

Snow in Summer is an enjoyable young adult novel and suitable for any young adult reader. It wasn't super by any means, but a cute little read. It's a little odd, though, that this Snow is familiar with the story of Snow White and doesn't ever put the two together; I just wanted her to be a little smarter. I expected a little more from Yolen, but I still recommend this book. It's a fun, quick read.  

PS There's a bear named Ursa! :)

Before Versailles: Before the History You Know . . . A Novel of Louis XIV

Before Versailles  by Karleen Koen introduces us to a younger Louis XIV than we are used to.  This is Louis before he became the great sun god that we know him as today. This is a newly wed Louis trying to establish himself as a king, trying to decide what kind of king he wants to be and who he can trust. 

The story is not only told around Louis, but many characters at court tell their story and their interaction with the king.  Sometimes there are almost too many characters, but one can only fault history. 

Equally the main character as Louis is Louise, a lady-in-waiting to the king's sister-in-law, Henriette. Louise is new to court, and she, too, must decide who she wants to be and who she can trust. 

I began  Before Versailles with some trepidation; I wasn't sure how dense the reading would be.  Once I got used to Koen's style, I really enjoyed the novel. I learned a lot about XIV that I never knew before and now I want to read more about him.  I recommend this to any historical fiction junkie like myself, or anyone wanting to learn more about France and Louis XIV's early days. 

Antelope Island

Last weekend, Cassidy got a scholarship to go to a conference about student affairs up at SLCC, so we jumped at the opportunity to head up north and get a quick visit in. The conference was Friday, so I got a sub for work and planned to have my mom come up to Salt Lake so we could play. Turns out, that was the day Jenn was flying back home from Louisiana and my mom already had plans to be in Salt Lake to pick her up. How convenient! 

Mom and Jordyn picked me up and we headed to the City Creek Mall. Despite the rain, we had a lovely time! 

We did some window shopping and had gyros for lunch before heading to the airport to get a very pregnant Jenn. While waiting, we saw some cute missionary homecomings as well as a marine meeting his baby for the first time. Tender! 

Saturday we went up to Antelope Island. Grandma Carma wanted to go after she found out that her great-great grandfather Briant Stringham was sent to Antelope Island to tend cattle. His father-in-law Fielding Garr was originally sent their by Brigham Young. There's a ranch on the island that was the Garr family ranch. The original house and other buildings are still there and open for the public. I had never been their before, so it was fun to see all the historical sites as well as the animals. 

Since I took so many pictures, I'll just let them show you our day! 

Dylan, Whitney, me, Cass, Pyper, and Morrell outside the Garr Ranch House

Dylan trying to rope a "cow"
Pyper "roping" hers! 

Cassidy roping Pyper

Pyper on the horse, trying to throw the rope

Pyper loved feeding the horses!


Pyper and the "buffalope"

Climbin' Rocks!

Cass and Morrell

I got so close the buffalo! er . . bison!

See?? Close! I was scared to get closer though

See all that white? Cass thought it was salt from the lake, but he went down and touched it, it was just foam! Salty, salty foam! 
After our fun, we got a late lunch, and then a much needed nap! All that fun and walking wore me out! 

08 October 2012

The Things I Do For You

The Things I Do For You by Mary Carter is about a married couple, Bailey and Brad, who live in New York. Baby-hungry Bailey is new to the world of real estate, but before she can get her big sale, she's called to the hospital. Brad has been in an accident with his great-aunt, who shouldn't have been driving.

Brad has a near-death experience, and sees himself in "the light." Previously agnostic, he is quite a different person. Bailey is a little annoyed by his undying optimism, but she still loves Brad. Nothing can change that, even an entire personality change. At first Bailey thinks it's survivors guilt, but it seems to be more than that. All Brad wants to do is talk about his experience and joins on online group for folks with experiences like his.

Brad finds out that his great-aunt has left her secret wealth entirely to him, which he then uses to buy a broken-down lighthouse upstate to turn into a bed and breakfast. Needless to say, Bailey is less than pleased, but goes along with his idea. The B&B, along with the continual presence of Brad's near-death experience, his support group, and secrets Brad has been keeping from Bailey, put their marriage vows to the test. Will Brad and Bailey make it? 

At first, I didn't really like Bailey. It bugged me how much she let Brad walk all over her. But then her faults started to show too, and while Bailey and I will never be friends, I became engrossed in the story. I wanted to know all the secrets. I wanted to know if Brad and Bailey made it. 

However, I felt like there were too many story lines going on. There's the baby-hungry Bailey with hesitant Brad line. There's the Bed and Breakfast, with guests, with possible ghosts, both the aunt and the old lighthouse ghosts. There's the near-death experience
rearing it's ugly head, along with the support group. This could have easily been been taken apart and written into two or three novels instead of one. It wasn't confusing, just a little overwhelming and scattered. It left some things unclear instead of delving in deeper. 

In the end, I liked The Things I Do For You, [though I could have done without the epilogue. Unnecessary  and he sounded much younger than 20] and recommend it as a chick-lit romance. Once you get into it, it would make a great beach or vacation read. Be forewarned, however, there's a little bit of sexy-time talk and some curse words. Read on, my friends!

*I won this novel from Goodreads FirstReads. All opinions expressed are my own. 

07 October 2012

Spiritual Sunday: General Conference

This weekend was the 182 Semiannual General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Here's some of my favorite parts from today (not direct quotes, just kind of highlights and my thoughts).

Boyd K Packer
  • We all make mistakes, what is important is fixing our mistakes and repenting of them.
  • Our message [as members of the church] is one of Faith, Hope, and Jesus as our Savior.

Jeffrey R Holland
  • I always forget how little knowledge Jesus's disciples had upon his death. Elder Holland reminded me of how limited their knowledge was in the gospel, especially as we understand it today. 
  • Elder Holland told the story of the disciples after Christ's death and their return to fishing. It was a similar experience to when Christ first called them to serve. Once the disciples realized Christ was resurrected, they were once again called to serve him. 
  • Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me?" three times, reminding him of experiences just days before. "Then feed my sheep!"
  • Will God ask us the same question upon our meeting? 
  • Love equals loyalty; if we love God, we are loyal to Him. 
  • Christ's death was the beginning of Christianity, not the end. 
  • The call is to come and stay true. The Lord expects our love at every stage of our lives. 
  • Am I feeding His sheep? 

President Thomas S Monson
  • Don't dwell on the negative, take a step back and find the positive.
  • "Men are that they might have joy"
  • Never postpone a prompting! 
  • Allow yourself to be an instrument in the Lord's hands
  • The opportunity to be a blessing in the life of another often comes unexpectedly.

Robert D Hales
  • What does it mean to be a Christian? 
  • Elder Hales retold the story of the disciples, but as an example to quickly return to the Lord after leaving him and receive his blessings. 
  • Feed His sheep! 
  • "The Savior will make us adequate to his work"
  • "Through His love and grace we can become more Christian Christians"
  • Am I a good Christian? 
If you watched conference, what was your favorite part? What did you learn?