Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

I posted my review of the book on my "Book Blogging Babes" site if anyone is interested. Click the button on the left side of my blog.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Laughing at Book Club Dinner

Last night, I hosted our annual Book Club Holiday dinner. We meet every month at someone's house and provide dessert but once year, we have a holiday dinner. For Mother's Day last year, my husband let me purchase the remaining pieces I was missing in my china that we registered for at our wedding. So, I offered to host this year so I would have an excuse to use it. Also, a few years back, I got these Thanksgiving pieces that grace my fireplace mantle during the month of November.
We don't have a true dining room in our house, so I just set the table in our kitchen. Instead of using a table cloth, that I would have to wash and iron, I just put down paper and then "wrapped" the table with nylon netting. The brown paper brought out the gold in my china and I was happy with how it all turned out.

When my husband came home after spending the evening at his sister's house with the kids, my eight year old daughter came up to me and said, "Every time we come home when you have book club, all you guys are doing is laughing. Do you guys do anything else?"

I thought about it and I realized it was a brilliant observation. Book club is such a fun place to leave the frustrations of life behind and just chat and laugh. (And, we do discuss the books we have read.) This is not to say that many of the woman in my book club aren't dealing with hard things. We all have our own personal trials but for a few hours once a month, they don't seem as bad. We have each other and there is a lot of laughter. I feel blessed to be part of this group.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Did You Know . . .

My husband knows how to fence? He even fenced on the BYU fencing team in college. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Am I Not a Man? (The Dred Scott Story) by Mark L. Shurtleff

A few months ago, I was contacted by the publisher of Valor Publishing Group asking if I would be interested getting an advanced copy of a book by the current Utah Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff. I immediately said yes.

For full-disclosure, part of my interest in reading this book was the fact that as a child, I met Mark's parents in Central America. I ran into them about year ago after last seeing them when I was 10 years old. Mark Shurtleff lives close to me and in one of those strange turn of events, a week before I started reading the book, there were changes in our church's congregation and Mark Shurtleff and I now attend church together. That said, I have yet to speak with him and have purposely not spoken with him until I finished his book and reviewed it.

Before starting this book, I knew nothing about Dred Scott or his importance in American history. In Dred Scott v. Sandford, the Supreme Court basically stated a black man had no rights whatsoever in America and ignored years of precedent that said once a black man was brought into a free state, he was free forever. The uproar from the decision was almost immediate and Abraham Lincoln was one of its most outspoken critics. Mark Shurtleff feels this is what propelled him into the White House and what ultimately led to battle for freeing the slaves, the Civil War.

Mark did an excellent job in explaining the great importance of this case and I felt by the end of the book that a lot of pieces of American History, some of what I felt I knew a lot about and some which I knew nothing about, all fell into place. I feel like I have a much better picture of American history as a result. I said to my husband, it is like when I go to the eye doctor and think I am seeing 20/20 but then the doctor puts new lenses infront of my eyes and realize that I was only seeing 20/40. So many aspects of American history became more focused because of this book and there is no question, I am more culturally literate because of it.

I was so impressed with the obvious thorough research that Mark did in preparation for writing this book and it is apparent on practically every page. It is obvious he visited places, spoke with many people, and spent hours researching. The book is crammed full of amazing historical references.

Some problems:

Mark combines actual facts with historical fiction, where he creates dialogue and scenes for characters. I didn't like the historical fiction aspect of it. It felt very contrived and his strength as a writer is not in creating dialogue. I understood what he was trying to do, but I am not sure he really pulled it off convincingly for me.

Also, the first third of the book jumps around a lot from 1852, when a higher court overturned an earlier ruling that gave Dred Scott freedom, to 1799 during the times Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to 1638 at Jamestown, where we learn the history of some of Dred Scott's original owners. All of this history is great in establishing historical reference for things later in the book, but it was hard to follow. I found myself having to go back pages and rethink things and I wonder if it could have been written differently where there would have been a more obvious flow. The last two thirds were more linear and at that point, I found myself having a hard time putting the book down. The story became very compelling and I marveled at how so many people put their lives on the line to help this one man become free.

Am I glad I read this book? Yes. Would I recommend it? Yes but know what you are getting into. It is not an "easy" read because of the subject matter. Slavery was and is awful.

Christmas Card Rejects

Last year, we paid a professional photographer to take our family Christmas card photo. The photo is spectacular and it has been used in all of my husband's dental ads for the last year. (The photo is the one with us in the sweaters on the left.)

Well, it was decided we would wait to do another professional family photo until the Spring and then we will use those photos for my husband's ads and our Christmas card picture next (2010) year. So, my sister-in-law generously offered to take some family pictures for us, so we wouldn't have to do the self timer and try and run into every photo. There is one that is really quite good but I thought for fun, I would post some of the rejects. Enjoy.
I don't like my hair in this picture and my boys aren't smiling.
No bad but there was a better one. Also, that is toothsome #3 current smile for posed pictures and it doesn't really look like him.
We are all too squinty in this photo but we ended up using a photo that is similar to this one for the Christmas card picture.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Things Your Nursery Leader Won't Tell You . . .

I was reading my new copy of The Reader's Digest and they have a section called, "Things Your ----(fill in the blank) Won't Tell You."

In that vein, here is my Nursery Leader "Things Your Nursery Leader Won't Tell You"

(With a new ward, my husband and I were called as Nursery Leaders. I will be be going on 6 plus years there, which I don't really mind, since I have always been in there with my kids. I have the calling down to science now and I do get great satisfaction from running an organized Nursery.)

Nursery is a class not daycare. If a child doesn't want to be there and cries and is upset longer than about five minutes, he really needs to go back to you or you need to stay in there with him. While it may not look like we are "doing anything", we are. We are teaching them many things--how to sit and interact with other kids in a group setting, how to be reverent for longer periods of time, how to share, how to pray, how to wash hands (before snack time), Primary songs, how to be nice to others, and many other such skills. It is very disruptive to everyone if your child is crying and wants you. If they settle down quickly that is one thing but if they don't, he should be with you or you need to stay in there with him.

If you are staying in Nursery to help your child, help, don't chat with your buddies. I can't tell you how frustrating it is for workers to have parents come in to stay with their child but during lesson time, singing time, etc., they sit in the back and chat and don't help.

If your child is under 18 months, they really don't belong there. Many parents try to bring their child in before they are 18 months saying they are trying to get their child "used to it." No, they are too young and often can get accidently hurt by older kids and have a hard time participating. They also need a lot more attention then the older kids and we need to put our efforts on the kids in the class, not them. If you want to bring them in a month early and stay with them, that is OK but know we are working with the kids who are old enough to be in there.

If your child is sick, please don't bring them. This should be obvious but it is not. More than once, I have brought a child back to their parents to have them argue with me they really aren't "that sick" or "they aren't contagious." Truth be known, you don't really know if they are contagious or not and as workers, if we feel your child is too sick (or we don't want to wipe their nose 20 times an hour), than they really shouldn't be there. We don't want others to get sick or for ourselves to get sick or bring it home to our own families.

If we bring your child to you for misbehavior, please keep them with you for the rest of church. Sometimes a child is just having a hard time at church and they take it out on others. If we bring your child to you and explain they just need a break from Nursery today, then please don't keep them out for a few minutes and then bring them right back in. We won't bring them to you unless we really feel it is beyond what we can handle that day (and personally, I always take a vote among the leaders to see if we all agree on that fact, so it is not just me making the decision), then please just take your child for the rest of the day.

We don't judge your parenting, so please don't judge how we do Nursery. We honestly try very hard to make Nursery a very positive happy experience for your child and all of the children in there. It is hard to handle many toddlers at very different development levels and keep everyone happy. It can be very discouraging to get "complaint" phone calls later. While we have been asked to serve, it still is a voluntary and it makes it hard to go back week after week if we think people are upset with how we are doing things. Feel free stay in and help and make polite suggestions, or even offer to be the a Nursery worker but please don't complain.

And please when talking about church callings, please don't say, "If I ever get called to Nursery, I will turn it down." There is a reason why I have been in Nursery as long as I have. I have been in Primary presidencies and seen how many people have turned it down often for the reason that "they just don't want to do it." It really isn't that hard of a calling and truth be known, it makes me feel like a "chump" that I am willing to do it and others are not.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Friday Evening Fun

My kids didn't have school yesterday and all day, they kept on saying, "When is Dad going to come home?" Mom is fine if Dad is not around but once he gets home, they all want him (with the exception of toothsome #3 who has been mine since he came out of the womb.)

So, while he was at work, we decided that when he got home, we would all get in the car and drive to Chadders in Provo. In-N-Out is coming to our area soon and we all know that we likely won't bother to drive to Provo to eat Chadders, since the reason we do that now is because we don't have an In-N-Out close by. (Sorry Chadders but thank you again for filling the In-N-Out void for the last few years.)

Anyway, the drive down was fun, eating there was fun and then we headed over to the BYU Bowling lanes for a night of bowling. For some reason, we all love bowling and we all love doing it together. None of us are very good but it doesn't seem to matter. (I always try to break 100 and usually do but with the amount of bowling we have done for the last few years, I should be MUCH better.) We typed in our fake names (last night, I was "Spare" and Dentist husband was "Strike") and we go at it.

In general, Dentist husband and I are pretty serious adults (even though my husband is absolutely hilarious) but last night, we spent the whole night teasing each other like we were 14 year olds. We both hate people touching our face and after every bowl, with our very dirty hands, we would try and rub them on each other's face while the other was being distracted by our four kids. We got them in on the act and by the end of the night, in the BYU bowling ally, I was on his back, rubbing my black hands all of his face with the kids cheering me on. We honestly spent from about 4:00-9:00 pm laughing together as a family.

It was a delightful evening.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November's Book on Book Blogging Babes: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

If you didn't like "The Woman in White", every review I read said this is very different and is in the "detective mystery" genre. Feel free to join me in reading this book this month.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

10th Annual Pumpkin Carving/Wassail Party

We had our annual Pumpkin Carving/Wassail Party again this year. This is our 10th year of doing this and it is my favorite family party.

My sister-in-law brought these "mini-carmel apples". I think she said she got this idea from Family Fun.
Toothsome #2 made these hilarious signs that she posted all over the house.
Let the carving begin . . .

Some of the finished pumpkins

One of the prizes this year were these hilarious fake mustaches. They weren't really that hilarious until we all started wearing them and taking pictures. None of us could stop laughing.

The five categories for prizes this year were:
Best Overall
Nice Try, Failed Attempt
Pumpkin Smasher's Choice
Coolest Concept
Safe Bet

We all agreed we need to add one more category next year and that will be "Best Presentation." At the end of the night, after we all sung "Ghost of John" in a round, we all take turns explaining our pumpkin designs. This year, people even wore costumes to explain their pumpkins, used fake accents, etc. It was absolutely wonderful.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween 2009

Hermione, Snow White, Skeleton and Cockroach,
all wish you a Happy Halloween