Wednesday, December 7, 2011
1) What is the name of the play we're reading right now? (A: The Diary of Anne Frank)
2) What should Mrs. Harr name her baby boy (due in May)?
I loved watching them read the questions and slowly comprehend what the second question meant. Although, perhaps my favorite part was chuckling at the kids who didn't even get to question two due to the fact that they were stressing about the first question because they couldn't remember the name of the play (really???).
Their name suggestions were pretty great, too. Here's the short list:
And those are just the ones that made me laugh out loud. It's not counting all the boys who want the baby named after them or the weird spellings, like Dakhoda.
In any case, I think I'll have to look elsewhere for inspiration. Or...maybe I should take their advice.
Jimbob Chewbacca Harr
What do you think?
Monday, December 5, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
"What?" you say.
You can only see two?
Can't find the third?
Here is a zoomed in version:
(I know some of you have already received this news, but celebrate with us again! After all, it's a pretty big deal, and we're ridiculously excited!)
Sunday, September 25, 2011
When I was a little girl, I used to daydream of marrying prince charming and setting up house to live happily ever after. Many days, my best friend, Stephanie, and I would dress ourselves up and "walk down the aisle" of my bedroom, pretending to get married. We would set our "husbands" (the over-sized teddy bears named Mr. Fuzzy and Big Berkley) at one end of the room, have a wedding, and then practice throwing the bouquet to each other. We talked about how we would be each other's maid of honor, and we planned our wedding colors and designed our dresses.
Back then, I had no idea what it really meant to fall in love and become a partner in a marriage. I just knew it was something I wanted. Over the last several years, however, I have seen this dream come true...better than I ever imagined when I was five. Getting married nine and a half months ago has been the biggest blessing of my life (and Graham is a much superior husband to the stuffed bear of my childhood). And standing beside me, supporting me all the way, was Stephanie.
Then, last week, the rest of the childhood dream came true. I was able to be a part of Stephanie's wedding to her own prince charming. Although it was a whirlwind weekend trip to San Diego, I would not have traded the experience for the world. Stephanie looked beyond beautiful, and as I watched her interact with her husband-to-be over the course of the weekend, I felt strongly that this was a man I could entrust her to. He brings out the best in her, supports and encourages her, and loves her with a clear devotion and loyalty. I look forward to watching them grow together in the coming years, and I feel so blessed to have been a part of celebrating with them.
So here's to childhood dreams coming true, albeit in different (and better) ways than I would have imagined.
Monday, September 12, 2011
It was wonderful to have the three-day weekend of Labor Day after the first week, and Graham and I made good use of the extra day.
Saturday, we went to the Manti temple with Robyn and Jeff, which was awesome! The building is straight out of the pioneer era and the hand-carvings and paintings are gorgeous. There is a special spirit about the temple, and I felt clearly what a labor of love it was to build.
Monday morning, we went canoeing on the Provo River with a college friend (and his wife) of Graham's. I had been wanting to go canoeing all summer, and we hadn't gotten around to it, so I was really excited to get out on the water and channel my inner Pocahontas.
That evening, we got together with Graham's dad and younger brother to have family night and make homemade pizza and homemade ice cream. I was nervous about cooking for them since the last time they came over was the only time since I've known Graham that I really botched a meal, but the food turned out well, and we had a great evening. Below are some pictures of the three musketeers diligently making our dessert. I had never made ice cream myself and I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but I found a GREAT recipe for rocky road online, and it was a hit! WAHOO!
I'm not sure I was really rested before the new school week rolled around, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!
Friday, August 19, 2011
Before I jump back into full time lesson planning, grading essays, and wrestling with teenagers, I thought I'd share some (not all 18!) of the books I've read during my free time this summer. Some of you might not care about my literary ramblings, but if you're looking for a good read and you like young adult literature, "check out" (Ha...library puns...gotta love them!) these books.
Have you read any of the following? What did you think?
Do you have any other great recommendations for me or for my students?
Chronicles of Prydain - Graham and I listened to all five books in this series on our way through Utah, Nevada, California, Idaho, Montana, and back home again! It was Graham's suggestion, and I found I loved these books! The second book is the basis for the Disney flop The Black Cauldron, but don't blame Lloyd Alexander (author) for Disney's failure to recognize that these books aren't geared toward the six-and-under crowd. However, for a young adult or adult crowd, the books offer a classic fantasy story complete with sweeping mythical landscape, an assistant pig-keeper turned hero, and a smorgasbord of other hilarious characters with witty dialogue (My favorite is Princess Eilonwy).
Divergent - Newbie author Veronica Roth has created the new "must-read" novel in the dystopian genre. At least according to many critics. I'm suspending judgement on this book until I read the rest of the trilogy (which unfortunately means I'll be waiting quite awhile for books two and three). I found the story enthralling and well-developed, but some of the underlying ideas really bothered me. I'm hoping, however, that I'm supposed to be bothered by these ideas and that the author will address the false ideology of the main character in the end. We'll see.
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street - This book is the sequel to a book entitled simply The Penderwicks. It chronicles the adventures of four sisters: Rosalind, Jane, Skye, and Batty. The first book follows them on their summer vacation to a quaint cottage in New England. In the second, they are back home and trying to save their widowed father from ruining his life (and theirs) by dating again. Both stories are a little predictable, but I don't care because they possess an irresistible, old-fashioned charm. Who could resist four-year-old Batty's obsession with wearing butterfly wings everywhere? I can't.
The False Princess - I love fairy tales. Princesses, magic, romance...what more could a girl want? How about a surprisingly complex plot with some unexpected twists, a multi-dimensional female protagonist with morals, and a happy (but not too perfect) ending? That's what The False Princess delivers. It's the story of a girl raised as a princess, but who is told just after her sixteenth birthday that she's just a decoy for the real thing. She is turned out of the castle and sent to live with her only living relative, a harsh woman who neither knows how nor wants to relate to the cast-away princess. How she comes to terms with her life and rebuilds her identity is a great lesson for anyone, especially the teenage girls to whom the book is written.
The Missing series - Margaret Petersen Haddix is one of the most prolific modern YA writers I know of. She is known for her Shadow Children series (another interesting dystopian journey) and for various retellings of fairy tales. In this series, she sets up an interesting premise that lacks sufficient explanation to make it believable, but it's a fun read nevertheless. I liked the second book of the series more; it walked a strange line between science fiction and historical fiction. I know, weird. And yet, I still found myself turning pages to find out what would happen next. I'm currently reading the third of four (so far).
Matched - Matched is another dystopian book, but it's less action-oriented and more introspective. The cover reveals the core conflict in the story. Cassia, the main character is naively confined within her beautiful, "perfect" world. But as she begins to yearn for a voice in her society and the ability to choose her own path, she begins to push against the forces that have encompassed her and everything she knows in life. Author Ally Condie is a Utah native and BYU grad, but don't compare her work to Twilight. This isn't her first novel, but it IS her first that has been nationally marketed (she previously published some LDS fiction with Deseret Book). P.S. - The book is squeaky clean (yay!), which our young adults could use more of, I think.
The Golden Spiral (book 2 in the Hourglass Door series) - A teenage girl becomes intrigued with a mysterious boy who is different from all the other high-schoolers around her. The closer she gets to him, the more complicated, and dangerous, her own world becomes. Sounds like a Twilight copy-cat, right? And, yes, there are some strong similarities (but no vampires here, I promise). The writing is not overly impressive, but the plot is interesting and Lisa Magnum keeps her story considerably less scandalous than Stefanie Meyer's stories. So, if you like the idea of dangerous romance, good vs. evil, and a few surprising twists and turns along the way, it's a good read and definitely a winner with it's target audience.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
This is the peach/nectarine cobbler I made last night. No that's not some fancy pan, it's just that the cobbler's crust boiled over SO much that it completely encased the glass pan. (Thank goodness for the foil sitting on the bottom rack to catch "drips"!)
This "experiment" was after the pesto/mozzarella bread I burned the bottom of by taking the pan from the oven and accidentally putting it on top of a burner that was still on...and after the chicken triangles that I almost couldn't make at all because I forgot that you have to defrost the phyllo dough...OOPS!
The good news: All the food was still edible!
The other good news: I think I successfully "entertained" our guests with all of my cooking antics.
The bad news: That's not the way I intended to entertain them.
The other bad news: I have never seen my kitchen so full of dishes...and that was after I did one round of dishes while I was cooking!
The moral: It's probably fine to experiment when having people over for dinner, but it might be a better idea to choose ONE thing to experiment with instead of THREE!
C'est la vie!
Oh, and remember this guy?
He didn't make this face even once during the chaos. He just pitched in and helped (and laughed). Thanks, My Love!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
#3 Graham's walking cast made a good impersonation of Bigfoot tracks. (FYI - he injured some ligaments right before the trip, so he had a boot part of the time, but we were still able to do quite a bit of hiking. YAY!)
Monday, June 27, 2011
In January, I found out that each winter in Midway, Utah, there is a man who builds ice castles in the town square. It sounded like a unique idea, so Graham and I drove up one night to go look. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was impressed by the 20+ foot castles that greeted me. You could actually walk through the middle of them (no thrones, though). Sadly, my camera ran out of battery about three minutes after we got there, so I only got a couple of pictures. Oops.
During Graham's busy season at work, I kept myself busy with numerous projects while waiting for him to come home. :) This is a quilt I made for my college roommate Kristy's baby girl. I didn't want to post the picture until after I gave her the quilt, and then I forgot. Oops again.
For my first week of summer vacation, Graham and I drove to California. He had to work in San Jose, so I went with him and split my days between Ann and Teanca, and Kristy. It was so nice to see them all and have a fun way to kick off the summer. One day, Ann, Teanca, and I decided to go to the Villa Montalvo for a picnic and a walk around the grounds (you can see the villa in the distance through the gates).
Here are a few shots from our nature-loving excursion.
Now, off to have some more adventures!
Friday, June 17, 2011
This video totally inspired me this morning. It's a great reminder to slow down and not get caught up in the craziness of life, and to put down our distractions and look at the life and beauty around us.
I (as I think many people do) have a tendency to rush around and feel like I have to be productive all the time. I have been training myself over the last year to allow myself leisure time and to focus on the moment more. I'm trying to get away from the idea of just "getting through today" or this week, or this month, or this summer, or whatever. I'm trying to enjoy each stage of life, bit by bit, because I only get one life. This summer, as I have a lot more time to slow down, I'm making a goal to enjoy the time, use it well, and not rush myself through it! We'll see how it goes.
So, slow down for three minutes and eleven seconds, watch the video, and see what you think.
Monday, June 13, 2011
What is a girl to do when her husband has been working long hours, they both finally have a long weekend, and the weather is supposed to be warmer 300 miles away? Take off on a road trip, of course!
Graham and I have been wanting to get away for awhile, but our work schedules hadn't allowed it...until Memorial Day weekend. We decided last minute to take off and go reconnect with each other and the great outdoors in Zion National Park. I have lived in Utah for almost 9 years and I had never been to one of the most popular vacation spots in the state.
We drove down to Cedar city on Friday and relaxed at a hotel there. The next morning, the hotel served a great hot breakfast (YUM!), and then we were off to Zion! We had both been a bit sick, but that didn't stop us from choosing to embark on one of the most strenuous hikes: Angel's Landing. It's 5+ miles of steep switchbacks, a nice walk back into the canyon, more (awful) switchbacks that are named "Walter's Wiggles" to deceptively make them sound fun, and finally, a stroll along a narrow ridge that has HUGE drop-offs on both sides.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Yesterday, I finished a book that I had been meaning to read for more than 13 years: The Hiding Place. On the surface, the story is that of a woman who is imprisoned during WWII for aiding Jewish people and hiding them. At its core, though, The Hiding Place is about how faith in Jesus Christ will sustain the weakest person in the harshest of circumstances.
I felt moved to share one of my favorite passages from the book. When the two sisters, Betsie and Corrie, arrive in Ravensbruck (one of the worst of the concentration camps), Corrie is dismayed by their surroundings. She implores the Lord aloud in prayer, "Show us how to live here."
Betsie, always full of faith, finds her answer in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
Corrie, a bit skeptical, challenges Betsie in the following conversation:
Betsie said, "We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about his new barracks."
I stared at her, then around me at the dark, foul aired room. "Such as?" I said.
“Such as being assigned her together."
I bit my lip, "Oh Yes, Lord Jesus!"
"Such as what you're holding in your hands."
I looked down at the Bible. "Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all the women here in this room who will meet You in these pages."
"Yes," said Betsie. "Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we're packed so close, that many more will hear. She looked at me expectantly, "Corrie!" she prodded.
"Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed suffocating crowds."
"Thank you," Betsie went on serenely, "for the fleas and for--"
The FLEAS!! This was too much. Betsie, there's no way even God can make me grateful for a flea."
"Give thanks in All circumstances," she quoted. "It doesn't say in pleasant circumstances. Fleas are part of this place where God has put us."
And so we stood between piers to bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.
As I read this, I admired Betsie's faith and optimism, but, frankly, I agreed with Corrie. There was no possible way that fleas could be part of God's plan. Surely, there are some things we are just meant to endure, but we don't have to be thankful for them.
I was wrong. Betsie was right. The Lord really did mean ALL things.
I was humbled to this realization a little farther on in the book when Betsie realizes why the women are given so much freedom in their bunkroom. In this room, Corrie and Betsie held prayer meetings and read their smuggled Bible (a miracle all its own) to the other prisoners. Had they been caught, they would have been immediately executed. However, no guards supervised their activities in the bunkhouse. Why?
Betsie excitedly told Corrie, "I found out for sure, Corrie. I overheard two guards. The guards will not step foot in the bunkroom because of the FLEAS! Thank God for the fleas!"
Truly, the Lord works in mysterious ways. Surely, the fleas weren't enjoyable. But, the Lord can use even a flea to bless the lives of his children in unconventional and unexpected ways. May we always be thankful for whatever experiences life brings, even if we don't understand how it could possibly be a blessing.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Of all the works we saw, many of which I have seen for years in church buildings and on the covers of church manuals, my favorite was one I was previously unfamiliar with. It is a painting of the story of Jarius’ daughter in the New Testament.
It’s different than the portrayals of most of Christ’s miracles that I've seen. In this one, the focus is not on the moment of triumph, but on the intense pain the moments before the miracle occurs. In the painting, the daughter is close to death, or maybe already is dead, and the mother is weeping over her (you can’t really see the tears in the picture above, but they're there. Trust me). Outside the doorway, Jarius kneels before Christ, begging his help and healing power. Behind, the sun is rising, the dawn of a new day. With this new day, Christ brings hope and the resurrection of a lost life. However, the mother, whose back is toward the door, doesn’t see that salvation has come. She is focused on her grief and her attention is riveted to her daughter’s deathly pale face.
To me, it seems that Bloch’s goal is to depict the contrast between the intense emotions of the mother at this time of overwhelming trial and pain and the hope brought by the Savior. So often, when we are in the midst of trial, we don’t realize that our salvation is at the door and that we need only look to see that the world is not as hopeless as it sometimes appears. A shift of viewpoint, a different perspective, can bring eternity into focus again and give us the strength to carry on despite unimaginable opposition and difficulty.
In just a few minutes, this painting completely changed the way I view that story in the Bible. The exhibit was saturated with the spirit of God, and it was clear that those present understood the love, faith, and knowledge of the divine possessed by Bloch that went into these masterpieces. What a blessing to be able to see them.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
First, a food blog I love is called Real Mom Kitchen. Laura, the author and cook, is a mom and total foodie! She has a lot of great, simple meals to try. Sometimes it's hit and miss, but I love her Santa Fe lime rice, and I used her simple chocolate fondue recipe for Valentine's Day this year.
Second, I love the menu planner on allrecipes.com. You can search through practically limitless ideas, or you can just have them create a weekly plan for you. Cool!
Third, and most amazing might I add, is a site called onetsp.com. For a while now, I have been frustrated with the fact that I will find a neat recipe online, but I have no way to remember where it is. I could bookmark the page, but bookmarks don't organize terribly well, and it would be hard to find the recipe once I develop a sizable collection. Onetsp.com solves my problem. It's an online recipe box of sorts where you can copy and paste recipes to save, and you can add the link to the original recipe (if you want to see the picture or check something). You can also tag recipes in various categories so you can search your own database later. COOL! Food and organization...I'm in heaven. Not to mention, it's totally free...DOUBLE HEAVEN!
I just found this yesterday, so I have yet to see how it functions over time and whether it will meet all my recipe storage needs long term, but it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship. :)
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Friday night we went to dinner at Macaroni Grill and I had one of the best meals of my life…no kidding. It was a honey balsamic chicken with sun-dried tomato cappelinni and steamed broccoli. YUM! Ooh, and don’t forget the blackberry lemonade. Mmm. It pretty much changed my life. Graham says I sounded like Bill Murray in What About Bob? I'm not offended; I'm pretty sure he's right, and I doubt I’ll ever eat anything else at that restaurant; that meal might become the only thing I order from here on out. I mean, why mess with perfection?
In all seriousness, I was reminded why that is one of my favorite restaurants. If anybody can ever find a copy-cat recipe or teach me how to make something that good, I will pay good money for it. So good.
That's it. I just had to share my pleasure at culinary genius!
Monday, February 14, 2011
I've been married for almost two months now. While that doesn't quite make me an "expert" on love (I'm pretty sure I'll never be that), I have learned a few things in the short time I've spent with the one I love.
One of the biggest lessons that I've learned in my relationship with Graham (pre and post marriage) is that love is a CHOICE. So often, we talk about "falling" in love and finding our "soul mate" as if it is something that we have no control over. Hollywood and generations of fairy tales have conditioned us to believe that love means perfection, constant bliss, and an eternal happily ever after. While I do believe in happiness, bliss, and the eventual achievement of perfection, love isn't as perfect or as easy as story books often make it out to be.
And, you know what, that's OKAY!
Not expecting perfection of myself or others is incredibly LIBERATING. Furthermore, as I've allowed myself to love, despite my imperfections, I've learned that the more I actively choose to love, the more my feelings of love grow. All the "warts" and flaws melt away (or at least don't seem to matter much) when we focus on improving the lives of others.
One of my favorite quotes on the subject is from Richard Paul Evans's book, The Letter. In it, an old man gives some advice to a young, floundering husband. I couldn't find the exact quote, so I did the best I could from memory:
"You talk about love like it's a hole, something you can fall in and out of. But real love isn't like that. It's more like a tree: grows if you mind it, dies if you don't. No one stands back of a neglected tree and says, 'Guess that tree just wasn't supposed to live,' but people do it all the time with their loves."
May I never neglect the tree that I am finding more and more beautiful and desirable each day I spend with my eternal best friend and companion. May I strive to love him as well as he loves me.
One more quote for the road. This one comes from the book The Christmas List, a kind of modernized version of A Christmas Carol. At the end, the main character says the following:
"We humans...are seriously flawed. The things that are the most necessary, the most critical to us, are the things we take most for granted. Air. Water. Love. If you have someone to love, you are lucky. If they love you back, you're blessed. And if you waste the time you have to love them, you're a fool."
I love you all. And today especially, my love goes out to the man who chose to love me, "warts" and all. I look forward to eternity spent with this wonderful man!