Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zoom

April has been a busy busy month.  This whole blogging adventure has just zipped past but on the other hand it has gone really slow. I have successfully done three blogs on this challenge and I am EXHAUSTED from all the today's is a quick lame post.  I will blog again next week for the reflection and a couple of book reviews that came up with no way to fit them into letters.  So on to the next thing :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for Yesterday

We often spend time thinking about what happened in the past.  As part of my job, I do that a lot--as a history teacher and talking to students about what they did in their past.  Your past still affects you but it is what you do with it that decides how much. The history that we have as a country still affects us today, and that is one of the reasons why I study history.  We understand the way things are now because of the history that has happened.  The same thing happens with us.  One of my students wrote a great example of this on our blog yesterday  check it out.

Sometimes dwelling on the past can get us in trouble---there is nothing that you can do to change it now. You just have to move forward!

Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for X-tra Time

Yeah so....I'm doing whatever one else does with this suddenly becomes an adjective :) But seriously...I was thinking about this today.  Everybody always wants extra time to do things that they want, get what they want done, etc.  Sometimes big projects require extra time each day.  With being sick for what feels like forever (we have officially past the year mark) and having that drain a lot of my energy...I have had to be more careful with my time.  I thought for the post today I would talk about some of the things I have learned with my time management this year.

So first things first is I make a list of what I need to get done everyday.  Because of my religious beliefs, this is very focused around that.  I need to read my scriptures and say my prayers each day. I also added time to read/listen to something that brings me closer to the Savior in addition to the scriptures--like conference talks or an Ensign article. Then I added what I wanted to do everyday that was a big project that I felt like could use some TLC. It was important that they be fun and enjoyable like: read and knit.  I also added watching lectures from Coursera and working on my portfolio.  I also have those "have-tos" like laundry or cleaning...though I'm not as good with those as I want to be.

Then I need to find time for everything.  With scriptures and my spiritual time, I like doing that while I'm getting ready in the morning--then it is done for the day.  A lot of my x-tra time tips have to do with multi-tasking---while I'm already doing something else.  I always thought that my fifteen to twenty minute commute everyday wasn't enough to get through a book at a decent pace.  And if that is all I'm doing it's right...but it is also thirty minutes of reading everyday.  I do try to get a physical book in too....but that's another tip with x-tra time--cut yourself a break! If I've done audio listening today and not a physical book I still check it off.

That's my other tip...figure out a way to keep track of what you've done each day.  I downloaded an app on my phone that is a to-do list thing that lets me have daily tasks that I can check off everyday and they reappear for the next day.  Then I know what I've accomplished, and I know the last time I checked it off. So if I haven't knitted in a while and I am trying to figure out something to do, maybe I go do that.

Best of luck trying to find those extra minutes in what seems to be a never ending cycle of trying to get things done! What ideas have you tried to find extra time?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for When

When is one of those annoying words.  When will everything get better? When will you feel better physically? When will life slow down? When will you get this done or that done? It seems like we are always asking for when we get this to change.

One of my favorite quotes this year from President Uchtdorf:

“Patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can—working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!”

Yep patience is needed!

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Vacation

The past few months we have been able to get away from for many different weekends.  Some weekends we are spending time with family and friends.  Sometimes we are attending an event out in the big city or shopping for important needed items. Other times we are just getting away from the stress here.  It is so great to be able to drive two hours or so and just get away! It makes the stress just float away.

Vacation can come in other ways with movies, books, and TV shows for me. I have been trying this year to do some essential things each day:
  • Knit
  • Read a book
  • Read Scriptures
  • Pray
  • Read something spiritually related

This helps me to be able to unwind and refocus my attention on what is needed and important in my life.What do you do to give yourself a vacation and remind yourself about what is important?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Unproductive

As apart of my catch-up theme for the A to Z Challenge.....I was having a struggle coming up with something to use with U.  I was thinking over the past year with my blog....and I really feel unproductive with it--hence the post today :)

It is tricky to keep up with the blog...I have had lots of trouble getting motivated to even go around and comment on people in the challenge.  I think part of that is the burn out from doing the challenge at work too. But at the beginning of the year, I wanted to give myself a little bit of time off and then hop on some year long reading challenges.  Do some seriously needed updating and revamping.  Get around to blogs to give feedback and spread that comment love!

Blogging can be super hard work--but it can also be easy if you just spend a little bit everyday like we have this month.  So there's my little ramble for today--and really wanting to refocus my efforts on making my blog better.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Tulip

I haven't updated you guys on my house recently.  We are still trying to get settled and find places to put everything.  Brian has been working on finishing up the basement.  He has just about finished a sanctuary for himself to put his exercise equipment and hangout (it is affectionately known as the man cave). He is currently working on the bathroom for down there.  And as it is getting warm we are going to start sprucing up the backyard.

Put there was something that popped up that I didn't have any idea we had!

These were the first ones that bloomed.

These ones started first...the green shoots came up first

Then these orange touched ones bloomed and they were beautiful!

See how pretty they are!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (Book Review)

Final catch up on this series :) 

Title: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (Fablehaven #4)
Author: Brandon Mull
Genre: Fantasy/YA
Rating: 4 out of 5
Why Did I Read? Continuing with the series! 

Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (Fablehaven, #4)Summary: (from Goodreads) Two hidden artifacts have been found. Three more remain unrecovered. More preserves face destruction as the Society of the Evening Star relentlessly pursues new talismans. Reading in Patton’s Journal of Secrets, Kendra learns the location of the key to a vault housing one of the artifacts. In order to retrieve it, the Knights of the Dawn must enter a death trap — a dragon sanctuary called Wyrmroost. The mission cannot proceed without stealing a sacred object zealously guarded by the centaurs. Anybody seen Seth?

The race is on to acquire all five of the artifact keys to the great demon prison. Will the Knights of the Dawn conquer Wyrmroost? Who can stop the Sphinx? Can Vanessa be trusted to help? What artifact will be found next?

What Did I Love: He sucked me in again with Kendra and her stuff!!! And then he took it away again.  I yelled at it---but in a good way :) Excited to read the 5th one. 

What Did I Hate: I think I'm still bitter about the way things turned out :)

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Rise of the Evening Star (Book Review)

Continuing to catch up on the Fablehaven series book reviews. 

Title: Rise of the Evening Star (Fablehaven #2)
Author: Brandon Mull
Genre: Fantasy/YA
Rating: 4 out of 5
Rise of the Evening Star (Fablehaven, #2) 
Why Did I Read? I really enjoyed the first book--especially the audio, so I really wanted to get the second one. 

Summary: (I finished this book back in December so I am stealing this summary so that it is just book 2 from Goodreads). At the end of the school year, Kendra and her brother, Seth, find themselves racing back to Fablehaven, a refuge for mythical and magical creatures. Grandpa Sorenson, the caretaker, invites three specialists--a potion master, a magical relics collector, and a mystical creature trapper--to help protect the property from the Society of the Evening Star, an ancient organization determined to infiltrate the preserve and steal a hidden artifact of great power. Time is running out. The Evening Star is storming the gates. If the artifact falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the downfall of other preserves and possibly the end of the world. Will Kendra learn to use her fairy gifts in time? Will Seth stay out of trouble? Can they overcome paralyzing fear?

What Did I Love: I loved the introduction of the new characters.  They really helped the story to evolve and get better. 

What Did I Hate: Umm...honestly can't think of anything.  I really enjoyed the book. I think the reason I gave it a 4 out of 5 was the fact that it is hard to get a 5 :)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Q is for Quotes

I completely forgot to post last night!! I suppose this is what I get for not having everything scheduled ahead of time :(  But my catch-up post for yesterday was going to be about quotes---still great for a Sunday today.

President Uchtdorf said this in one of my favorite talks from this past conference.  And I loved this little handout someone made.
Lds quotes    #LDSTemple #LDSBaptism #LDS
I thought that these two quotes were very appropriate on this Easter Sunday
"It is a fundamental truth that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be cleansed." –Elder Richard G. Scott
"The miracle of the Atonement can make up for imperfections in our performance." #ldsconf #BishopStevenson
And a great reminder at any hard time!!!

I'll need to remember this

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Plague Legacy: Acquisitions (Book Review)

I have been wanting to do a book review on this book forever.  This is one of the few books that I have read in which I know the author.

Title: The Plague Legacy: Acquisitions
Author: Christine Haggerty
Genre: YA/Dystopian
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

Why Did I Read? I love this woman! I have loved her short stories and I was excited to see the novel form.

Acquisitions: The Plague Legacy Book 1Summary: Cameron Landry lives in a world that was practically killed off by a plague.  The world is separated between the mutants (living with the plague) and the immunes (people who can't get the plague). The immunes seem to hold all the power, especially in the area called Salvation, but Cameron isn't apart of that world so he has to figure out where he fits in.  This first installment of the trilogy has Cameron being becoming an acquisition of the "government" and headed to Salvation and the speed bumps along the way.

What Did I Love: The character development is superb.  I really am attached to the characters and want to know what happens next. 

What Did I Hate: Hate is a strong word because she is my friend :) But I marked it down on my rating because it seemed to drag a bit.  I felt like we could have/should have made it to Salvation before the book ends. It seems like a lot of set up and I'm hoping that the next two books help give the first one more perspective.  But seriously check it out if you are in to the dystopian world.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Omens, Good Omens Book Review

Title: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
Author: Terry Prachett and Neil Gaiman
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Why Did I Read? We recently started a book club in my neighborhood and this is what we read for our meeting at the beginning of April.

Summary: The world is about ready to come to an end.  Demon Crowley and Angel Aziraphale have started to really enjoy living on Earth and they do not want to go back.  They have to stop the events from exploding out of control and deal with players that don't realize that they are moving everything forward. 

What Did I Love: I loved the writing!! I wanted to own the book or have an electronic copy so I could highlight/underline the awesome lines quickly.  I loved how the story had cool little foils and plot twists.

What Did I Hate: Hate does not fit this book--I didn't hate anything.  It just wasn't what I would pick out on my own....I might read it again but I did enjoy it.  It just didn't grab me at points :(

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Northanger Abbey Book Review

I finished Northanger Abbey a little while ago.  It is the next on the list of books to finish by Jane Austen.  It was also my completion of my book for the TBR Challenge (which I realized today that I forgot to do a check-in on....I started The Book Thief).

Northanger Abbey
Title: Northanger Abbey
Author: Jane Austen
Genre: Classics
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Why Did I Read? I want to get through all of Jane Austen's books. I have loved Pride and Prejudice and Emma. I liked Sense and Sensibility.  Mansfield Park has been a struggle...need to try it again at some point. 

Summary: This story is about Catherine Morland. She is apart of a large family and has the opportunity to go with some neighbors to Bath.  At Bath, she meets the Tilney and Thorpe families.  The story discusses the drama that occurs between the families, especially as she goes to stay with the Tilneys at Northanger Abbey.  

What Did I Love: When it started to pick up a bit more towards the end. 

What Did I Hate: So I don't usually give out 2s, but this book would make a good study of Victorian England and Gothic novels but that is about it.  It felt a lot like Austen was trying to be a newspaper columnist and explain her opinion on something.  She also seemed to really be mocking the novels idea. I was bored a lot, but it isn't horrible. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Magazines

Yesterday's post I talked about the quotes from General Conference that stood out to me the last few months.  This year, I have been making an effort to read the Ensign each month. I have been wanting to share some quotes from these magazines on here---so in the effort to catch up here are some of those quotes.
Life is full of obstacles, some of which seem insurmountable.  We are to endure them cheerfully and faithfully.  By so doing, we will ultimately return to live with God forever.--Elder Lansing January 2014 Ensign
As I have been dealing with the obstacles that life has thrown at me, I have been trying to do the cheerful thing.  This was a welcome quote to remind me that there is more than just the things in this life.
EnsignMany times we lose sight of our divine purpose and the Lord's promises, and the world's measuring stick can cause us to think we are less than adequate.  As Elder Wirthlin pointed out, however, the measure of our creation is to reach the exaltation and eternal life promised to those who remain faithful and obedient.--Joshua Larsen from January 2014 Ensign
This goes along with the previous quote---just sticking to that eternal perspective is so important.
There is no more solid foundation than faith in the love Heavenly Father has for you,  faith in His plan of happiness, and faith in the willingness and power of Jesus Christ to fulfill all His promises.--Elder Richard G. Scott February 2014 Ensign
It has been an unsure and unsteady time--but Heavenly Father can get us through.

I am still getting through March 2014's issue. Nothing has really spoken to me yet--but that just means you'll have to check back for future inspirational moments.

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Latter-day Saints

In the spirit of catching up, I have wanted to do a Sunday feature on this blog for the past few months.  Yeah, it isn't Sunday but I thought I would share what I wanted this feature to be.  I wanted to share some quotes and ideas of what I have learned spiritually over the course of the week.  These might be scriptures, quotes from the prophets or the Church magazines, and they might just be random thoughts that have run through my head. I thought today with it being L, doing LDS would be a good choice to help me catch up a bit of the thoughts I have had and the quotes that I wanted to share.

Before I get too far, I wanted to talk a little about LDS. LDS stands for Latter-day Saints.  It is a quick acronym people use because we are lazy.  But I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  By latter-day, it shows that we are apart of the same Church that Christ established during his ministry, just we belong to it in this day too.

We believe that God speaks through his prophets to us on this earth right now. As members of the Church, we participate in General Conference which allows the prophets to instruct us in what we need to hear.  We just got done with General Conference on the first weekend in April, and we won't have another session until October.  However, in between we are encouraged to read and ponder the messages received at the last conference and any other conferences previously.  I have become very fond of one particular speaker, Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

This is President Uchtdorf
President Uchtdorf is in the presiding body of the Church called the First Presidency. He is a sweet man from Germany-his accent is great.  And he says things that I usually need to hear.  I have been really studying two of his talks the last few months and I want to share a quote from each (which is going to be hard because there are soo many!).

In the October conference he gave a talk called, "You Can Do it Now!" In it he said:
Stand tall and walk in the light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! You are stronger than you realize. You are more capable than you can imagine. You can do it now! 
I loved this because life can be really hard sometimes.  But I know that I can make it through with the Savior by my side.

The other talk was from October 2011 called, "You Matter to Him".  In this talk he reminded me how much my Heavenly Father loves me.  He said:
My dear brothers and sisters, it may be true that man is nothing in comparison to the greatness of the universe. At times we may even feel insignificant, invisible, alone, or forgotten. But always remember—you matter to Him! 
The power in which he says those words just reaffirms to my soul how much my Heavenly Father does love me.

I am grateful to be a Latter-day Saint because I can receive the guidance and direction I need to help me through life's hardest challenges.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Kimberly

So....K has been alluding me for an idea.  My catch-up ideas were not working for the letter K.  So tonight, I said to my husband--I need a word that starts with K to write about.  And he was like "K is for Kimberly..." in this "duh" why haven't you thought of this tone.  And I was like yes it does....but how do I write some thing about my name.  And he starts with suggestions....and then I stop him and I'm like that doesn't go with my theme of "catching-up" on what I haven't written this year.  And I love him for this---he said, "It will catch people up on who you are that haven't ever been to your blog before--and isn't that the point of this thing." So I now have my idea!!! This one will be a tricky one to write but here goes nothing.

The first suggestion my husband gave me about my name was actually pretty good--explain why my name is Kimberly not Kim.  It's actually become a pretty good way for me to know if people actually know me or not by which name they call me. So, my mother named me Kimberly because she liked the name.  As a kid I thought that was a lame answer because you seem to want to have a meaning to your name like other kids.  But now that I'm older I get that more.  But at school people would call me Kim--teachers/other students/friends etc.  And I didn't really care.  My mother would always tell me to correct people and I didn't like doing that.  She would even tease me when someone would call the house asking for "Kim".  One of my best friends in high school was Kim too and we had fun being Kim squared.

As I got older, I started to care like that I was Kimberly and not Kim. I'm not sure if it was because of maturity, if I finally understood what my mother had been telling me all these years (I named you Kimberly and that is your name!), or if I realized that I actually had a preference. But I had been Kim/Kimberly for so long in one place that it was hard to really fathom correcting that many people. When I went to college I made a commitment to correct people I met no matter what. As a result, everyone there called me Kimberly and knew me by that name.  That commitment was tested pretty well with my husband ironically.  We were on our first date and he was calling me Kim.  I really liked this guy--and I didn't want to offend him with correcting him--but I also didn't want to actually start dating him and have him be calling me the wrong name.  So I remember sitting in his car waiting for the other couples to catch up to go into the house where we were all going to play games. And I just said it--and he was so understanding.  He even has started correcting people for me.

The ironic thing is that some people still never catch on no matter how much I correct them--but that really is a test of someone's commitment to a relationship in my mind.  If they take the time to learn someone's name (and I have noticed even how to spell it), it shows that they really care about building that relationship with you.

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for JoAnn's

So in the spirit of continuing to catch-up, I wanted to share this picture of a happy Saturday a little while back.  Living in small town Utah, any time I wanted yarn or knitting supplies, I either had to order it or wait until I went out to the city (2 hours away). Then a few weeks ago, a JoAnn's opened 30 minutes away! I have gone almost every weekend that they have been opened.  I have doubled my bamboo knitting needle supplies.  I now feel like I can do two projects at the same time, because I have access to the resources.

I cannot express in words very well how exciting this is.  It is a brand-new shiny store.  And knitting has really gotten me through the last little while. It has really also made me want to take up scrap-booking seriously and sewing.  There is so much I can get now!!!

This is the new yarn that I got on the first weekend opening:

My yarn organization is finally done:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Insurgent (Book Review)

So I did a review for Allegiant on the first day---and saved Insurgent for today with I.  I am so glad that I am getting caught up.

Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Dystopian/YA
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Why Did I Read? I really really enjoyed Divergent--and this was what came next :)

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)Summary: I finished this book in December-so again I'm using a Goodreads summary. Which might contain spoilers One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

What Did I Love: You really get to know Tris and Tobias a lot more-I like how the characters are developed more

What Did I Hate: I felt like Divergent was a lot better--this one just seemed to move a bit slow. The character development was great, but the plot development was lower.  It also didn't seem to be really moving much forward--just getting it so Divergent and Alleigant weren't too long.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for How I Met Your Mother

So on March 31st, the series finale of How I Met Your Mother aired.  And it was one of those bittersweet moments.  It was sweet in the fact that they were ending it the way they wanted to and not because they were cancelled by the network.  It was bitter in the fact that you don't want one of your favorite shows to end--but it is.

It has been a very controversial ending, and I immediately thought of the fact that I didn't have an "H" when I saw my opinion needed to go up on this blog.  So here comes the next catch-up! WARNING! If for some reason you haven't seen it/don't want spoilers I will understand if you stop reading now.

Should it have ended with the mom dying?
Eh, not my favorite.  It makes sense as to why she kind of seems like a distant memory the whole series. However, I did really like the mom and it was just too bad.

Should Ted have ended up with Robin?
I have been saying this for most of the series.  I was crushed when they ended the pilot with....your Aunt Robin.  I was really upset when they couldn't figure out how to make it work when they actually did have a real relationship.  And honestly the kids are right...he does seem to spend a lot of time talking about her in the stories.  And it does explain why they stay friends for so long.

HOWEVER--here is what I didn't like about the series finale:

  • I had really gotten use to the Barney and Robin.  I liked them as a couple. They tried, and failed--they could have just left it there.  But then they persevered in the relationship--which makes us commit! They seemed to work and fit.  It was nice to see Barney be more normal and Robin to be happy with someone.  I HATED how they got divorced like 5 min. after the wedding.  I mean really...we spent this entire season going through three days of them getting married at a snail's pace and then it is just gone in a second!
  • Again....we spend the whole season in three days--and then a whole hour in like 20 years; some balance would have been nice
  • The HORRIBLE editing job....which sounding like after reading a Josh Radnor interview...they actually filmed then why did we have to have it like that?!
Things I Have Learned Since Watching
  • The creators did keep writing the whole wasn't like they left and came back to do the last few episodes. They didn't write each one the whole time anyway--but they were involved the whole time
  • CBS has commissioned How I Met Your Dad---I don't know how I feel about this.  If it like this article implies, the same idea just from mom's perspective--we know she dies at the end so what's the point. 
  • They had an alternate ending---and will put it on the DVD....might actually have to get that (I wasn't thinking this before because they are on Netflix)
  • I read one article which told everyone who was mad to go back and watch the will make more sense.  I have now--and yes it actually does.  I am now going to watch the whole series and see if it feels better at the end. We shall see.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for Grip of the Shadow Plague (Fablehaven #3) Book Review

So as I mentioned yesterday, I have been just reading the Fablehaven series and I haven't written any reviews about it yet!  So even though this is the third book, it fits with today's letter :)  I will get all four on here before the end of A to Z! I finished this back in January, at least I keep my Goodreads account somewhat updated :)

Title: Grip of the Shadow Plague (Fablehaven #3)
Author: Brandon Mull
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5

Why Did I Read? Continuing along the here he had me hooked!

Grip of the Shadow Plague (Fablehaven, #3)Summary: (again stolen from Goodreads) Strange things are afoot at Fablehaven. Someone or something has released a plague that transforms beings of light into creatures of darkness. Seth discovers the problem in its infancy, but as the infectious disease spreads, it becomes clear that the preserve cannot hold out for long. 
In dire need of help, the Sorensons question where to turn. The Sphinx has always given sound advice–but is he a traitor? Inside the Quiet Box, Vanessa might have information that could lead to a cure–but can she be trust? Meanwhile, Kendra and members of the Knights of the Dawn must journey to a distant preserve and retrieve another hidden artifact. Will the Society of the Evening Star recover it first? Will the plague eclipse all light at Fablehaven?

What Did I Love: I liked how this one allowed Seth's character to grow a bit more.  Yes I still have the moments of really why is he doing that, and I can't really trust him.  But I liked how he is getting his own powers and starting to really contribute.

What Did I Hate: I didn't really hate anything about this one. I rated it in the moment, and to be honest I can't really remember why it was a 4 over a 5 or a 4.5.  But I do remember thinking that this story didn't grab my interest as much--it was becoming a bit predictable.  Fablehaven is always about ready to be destroyed.

Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for Fablehaven: Book Review

In the effort to catch-up, I need to review this series of books.  I have listened on audio to the first four in this series, and have checked the 5th one out of the library waiting for me to read it.  I finished this in December of last year, and since I have been reading the other books each one in order I am going to steal this summary from Goodreads.

Title: Fablehaven
Author: Brandon Mull
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5

Why Did I Read? I have always wanted to read this, and I like to have an audio book in my car when I drive.  This was the audio book that grabbed me. 

From Wikipedia
Summary: For centuries, mystical creatures of all description were gathered to a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic in a cynical world. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite ... Kendra and her brother Seth have no idea their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws give relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, an arcane evil is unleashed, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save her family, Fablehaven, and perhaps the world, Kendra must find the courage to do what she fears most.

What Did I Love: I absolutely LOVED E.B. Stevens.  He reads the audio books and does a ton of voices.  I found myself laughing out loud at the text--which probably resulted from the way he read it.  Brandon Mull writes very well.  The story was very well done, and I immediately wanted the 2nd book.  It was a simple fantasy world, which I appreciated.  But it wasn't too simple that I didn't feel like I wasn't in the world-which was a perfect balance. 

I also love that this is a perfect book for students--I bet reluctant readers are more likely to pick up this book.

What Did I Hate: Nothing! It got the rare 5 out of 5!!!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

E is for Empowered

One thing that I have been wanting to catch-up on with this blog is my quotes.  I know that sometimes during my 365 project, this was what I used on nights that I couldn't think of a thing to write about.  And honestly....I kind of was thinking that when I realized I didn't have a word for E.  I started thinking that quotes empower us.  That is why I love quotes so much (as evidenced by my Pinterest board).  Today I have been watching the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  As a result, a lot of great quotes have been sticking out to me.  Those of you that aren't familiar with conference, think of it as a great weekend to be taught by smart men and women. Some people this time have been comparing it to TED talks....and I'm like yeah that's totally true! So today, I will share some quotes that I have loved recently. And give you my little commentaries as always :P

The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are: daily scripture study, and prayer, and weekly Family Home Evening. Linda S. Reeves #LDSConf #MormonWomenStand
This one was from today. I LOVED this quote.  As women, we often try to make sure that we get what we need to done--she only gave us three things.  We can do that!

We almost certainly will fail—at least in the short term. But rather than be discouraged, we can be empowered because this understanding removes the pressure of being perfect right now. — Dieter F. Uchtdorf
This is the quote that actually inspired the word empowered. This is a great quote to remember because with it I can remember that I don't have to do EVERYTHING I don't have to be perfect.  I just need to do my best and in so doing I am empowered to become a better person.

my new life matto Want it bad even if i don't get it I'll say it like some people say that's what she said everyday | See more about vinyl lettering, quotes and funny office.
I saw this one recently and I just loved it.  I am always looking for great quotes about trying.  This one is great. Especially for my students.

Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for Dresback

So in the idea of continuing to catch everyone up on my life, I am trying to let everyone know about my recent obsessions.  As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, finding out about my family history is very important.  We believe that families should be connected as it says in the Old Testament (see Malachi 4:6). So one day, I got on which is the LDS version of  It is free and open to everyone.  I can put myself in and my whole family.  I started looking for someone we didn't know anything about. My aunt and grandmother have done a lot to add to what we know about our family.

In my looking around, I found my fourth-great grandparents--Jacob Dresback and his wife Catherine Hoy. (Hence D is for Dresback) They had a daughter named Olive along with my third-great grandmother.  All we knew was that Olive was born in 1840.  We didn't know anything else about her.  So she became my focus.  As I started looking for her, it expanded into a huge Dresback family search (which is sometimes spelled Dresbach).  I found a lot of Olive's brothers and sisters--and their spouses and their children.

Eventually I got a trial period of to figure out what that had.  I love how it is set up with the collaboration.  Both FamilySearch and Ancestry have great advantages. Through Ancestry I started to add details to their lives--where they lived when etc.  This is a great advantage to Ancestry.  FamilySearch is great in that I don't usually have to approve hints--if the person is in the system they just come with their links.

It was a bittersweet day when I finally found Olive.  Through ancestry's find a grave connections, I figured out that she died after she was only a year or so old.  It was great to finally find her--my inspiration for this mission.  But I was sad to find out that she died so quickly.  I had kind of guessed that as I learned more about the family overall, but I had been hoping I was wrong.  She never had the chance to have a full life. But now she has a connection to someone--and I really do want to make a trip to Ohio someday and visit her grave.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

C is for Coursera

One of the things that I have been doing a lot this year is learning. I am a bit of a nerd.  I want to be in college still...going to lectures...learning at the hands of experts....reading books about various things.  HOWEVER! I do NOT want the stress.  I also do NOT want to pay for it.

So....I came across this awesome little website a few years back...Coursera.  I have mentioned this sometimes on here (a paper I wrote, connection from class, and a movie review).  But I thought it fit into my great catch-up theme....because this has really taken the place of my 365 blog challenge last year.  I got really really really ambitious with what I was going to learn about.

In the last few weeks, I have really had to cut back on what I was taking because it was causing the stress that I wanted to avoid.  I have learned that sticking to the schedule as best I can, especially working for the certificates keeps me motivated to follow through.  But the deadlines were getting to be too much--so I dropped a lot of classes.  I can take them again if they are offered again later, and I can focus on the ones that I really really enjoy.

It makes me think about getting my masters...but this really satisfies my desire to learn.  How do you stay being a life-long learner?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for the Book of Mormon

So continuing with my theme of catching up, I need to talk about this because I need to follow up from my post here. I am actually a little nervous to do this blog post for the possibility of a wider A to Z audience. But part of my blogging attitude has been I have to get over what people think of my writing and just go for it. So here we go!

In the post I linked above, I told you about a 40 Days and Nights Challenge to read the Book of Mormon.  As a member of the LDS community, this was exciting to me.  And I definitely tried, but as often happens I quickly got off track.   But I just kept reading, I hadn't read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover straight.  I had done a lot more individualized topic study recently.  This was a nice start for me.  I had the goal to read all four standard works in 2013....which never happened.  But I suppose I have started the process if I start with my Book of Mormon beginning if I can do it in a year.

I finished about a month ago, give or take. And it was a great experience as I tried to make sure I read everyday before I went to work.  As I mention a lot, work has been really hard--and this has helped to keep my perspective.  Work is not my whole life--though it feels like it.  And it really doesn't matter in the big scheme of things.  This is SUPER hard to remember--and what I really felt like I learned this time through the Book of Mormon.  Each time I read the Book of Mormon, I learn something new.  That is the great thing about this wonderful book, and I want to spend the last little bit of my post testifying of its truthfulness.

I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that the prophets in this book saw our time, and knew what we needed to hear during this dispensation.  I know that by reading and studying the Book of Mormon we will come closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the Savior of the World, and by improving our relationship with Him we become better people.  We are here to learn and grow to prepare for the next life, and this book will help us do that. It brings so much peace to each of us, and I am grateful that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

If you want to know more, check this out and other links from this page. And if you'd like to read this book for yourself, request a free copy at this link.

The Book of Mormon
Courtesy of the free copy site :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A is for Allegiant: Book Review

So in my theme of catching up, there will be quite a few book reviews on this A to Z Challenge.  I have been trying to keep up with my reading, but I haven't kept up with blogging about them.  And a lot of these book reviews are books that I finished end of 2013 too, so yeah--when I stopped blogging, I also stopped writing about the books.  Sad day...but I am trying to fix that with this challenge (though I will it is tricky to get motivated to write).

So I actually finally finished Allegiant this past weekend after reading it for months--I started reading it when everything at work changed and it is really hard to find time to read a book.

Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Dystopian/YA Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5

Why Did I Read? Well I read Divergent (see review here) and I read Insurgent (review to come on Day "I"). I really wanted to know how it ends. And I had heard interesting things about the ending. 

Summary: (Note if you haven't read the other two books, this might contain spoilers of those...they have become one long story to me.) We follow Tris and Tobias outside the fence to figure out what is out there and what they are suppose to do.  They are surprised when they learn the truth about their own existence.  Tris feels like she has walked into another world just like hers--will she change it or just let the status quo remain? 

What Did I Love: I loved how everything was explained in this book--that's why I have got all three of them in my head now.  She takes all of the loose ends from the first two books and really ties it all in a bow.  I actually really did like the big ending.  I won't say it here to avoid spoiling it for others--but I accidentally came across the ending to the story right before I finished the book.  And I actually wasn't too surprised, I kind of saw it coming.  I loved the theme of the book that really came out through the end and she had some great quotes and writing at the end. 

What Did I Hate: I really didn't like the perspective changes with the chapter changes.  I get why she did that now that I've read the whole book, I don't think she could have done it any other way.  But it was very disorienting and it took me awhile to get use to it.  Towards the end I would still see the character name at the chapter a few pages and then go back to the chapter heading to make sure I had the first person right.  I wonder if a third person would have made it better....I doubt it but that would have helped the confusion.

What did you think of Alleigant? I haven't seen the new movie yet, what did you think of that?
Allegiant novel cover.jpg
Thank you Wikipedia