Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Review

This last batch was much better than the previous group. Here goes:

The best line of this memoir was "An Amber is like a Heather, only she 's attacking your spiritual worthiness and your dress size at the same time." (Genius!!!) My friend TZ read The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance and didn't really like it, but I couldn't put it down. TZ's not Mormon and I'm guessing the non-stop references to the Church and it's doctrine were a bit too much for her. I, however, found it totally compelling and super funny - probably because I could relate to so much of it. Elna tells of her experiences being a single Mormon woman living in New York City. Caught between two worlds in her quest for a husband Elna nailed a whole lot of what I experienced growing up. It's not for everyone (I think the typical Mormon may find it a bit crass, and if you aren't LDS, it may come off as too preachy) but I loved it.

While so much of I Am Number Four follows that irritating teenage formula (ya know, superpowered teen falls in love with a moral while the bad guys are after him and the fate of the world depends on his success, blah, blah, blah) I actually liked this one. Somehow it didn't feel quite so trite. It's fluff for sure and the ending was way too sci-fi for my taste, but I enjoyed it. It's being made into a movie, due to be released next month.

While I didn't see The Lovely Bones movie, it did inspire me to read the book. It's an intriguing concept - a teenage girl is murdered at the beginning of the book and the rest of the story is her watching from heaven as her family copes and adjusts to their loss. There were parts that had me aching for the family and other parts that had me furious at the killer. The ending was lame but it was still worth my time.

This memoir tells of an adopted woman who meets her birth mother only to discover she was the product of an extra-marital affair. Everyone involved is a bit unstable and watching how they interact with one another in the midst of these dramatic changes is unsettling. There were some parts that kinda bored me, but overall The Mistresses Daughter is an interesting look at adoption, family and stability.

I almost quit The Road about 30 pages in, but somehow the story took hold of me. In a post-apocalyptic world a father and his son wander while trying to survive. The tone and pace of the story were both very bleak - but that is exactly what the author was trying to do. McCarthy's writting is incredibly well done. The Road is a downer for sure but the kind that left me feeling incredibly blessed to have plenty of food and a warm bed at night.

I only read A Christmas Carol because it was a free download on my I-Pod plus I figured if I wanted to consider myself well-read I probably should read it. Dickens is a fabulous writer and I was surprised by how funny it was. There is a reason this is a classic.

A woman in our book club has been making her way through some list of young adult fiction. The Witch of Blackbird Pond came from that list and I agree that it was good read. Set in Connecticut in the years prior to the American Revolution, the reader follows Kit as she adjust from her plush life in the West Indies to the Puritanical strictness of New England. Witch is an insightful look into that period of history.

My favorites this time? Mormon Halloween and I am Number Four - bur really, they were all pretty good.

I've got a trip to the beach planned next month and I already have three books lined up; The Mennoite in a Little Black Dress, The White Queen and Pride & Prejudice. I can't wait!!! Reading a good book by the beach is about as good as life gets!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Live Audience Friday

Yea, I'm pretty much famous. First when I won Last Caller of the Day by telling my story on Mix 100 of how my car ran over an unmanned lawnmower. Then again when I was on the radio as part of Live Audience Friday.

It was Kristy's 40th birthday this past November and she had been wanting to be part of the Live Audience for a long time. So we made reservations for the four of us as part of our gift to her.

Although it looks like I was pretty much dissed in this picture, it really was a fabulous (early) morning with my favorite girls and Dom & Jane.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I'm Baaaaaccck!

With my recent release from Relief Society, a lot of my friends have been asking if I am enjoying all the down time. What??? There is no down time. I've been working my butt off trying to get prepped for my new teaching position.

Even though I have taught Introduction to Sociology before, I've never written a syllabus, or taught it in a two days a week format, or used PowerPoint as the main presentation tool. (I was using an overhead projector!) I've been working a lot of very late nights trying to figure out all the new technology and get everything in place in time for my first class.

Go figure I was a bit nervous about everything (OK, maybe more than a bit). After all, it's been five years since I've been in the classroom. Tuesday morning, the day of my first class I woke up to find this:

I faithfully waited until I was at school to read Big Boy #1's note. Here is part of it:

"You love this, act like it's for fun and it will be fun." What great advice! Once all the technology was up and working OK I tried to just settle into it.

I have to say, it didn't take long at all to feel like I had never really left. It felt soooo good to be back in the classroom, back in my skin, back to the thing that I love and that I know.

I'm baaaacck!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Change is Good - right???

*Caution: This post may not make too much sense to anyone who is not at least somewhat familiar with Mormonese (ya know, that unique vocabulary that we tend to use when talking about church things.) But if you can make it through the first paragraph, consider yourself suitably knowledgeable.

Last Sunday our ward split, creating a totally new ward. As part of that split, I was officially released from my calling as the Relief Society President. It's a job I have been doing for the last three years, serving over 150 women.

The question is, how do you pour your whole soul into loving, serving and caring for these amazing women, then just walk away? So many of these families will be attending a different ward now and things will be, well, different. (This picture was taken at the end of our last meeting.)
When I was first asked to serve as the RS President I had only been in the ward for four short months. I didn't know hardly anyone. Now I not only know them but I love them. I see them as warriors, as angels and as heroes. I was able to get in the trenches with these women and then marvel at what they did. Without a doubt I am a better person because of the opportunity I had to watch these amazing, faithful women in action.

I also came to know my Savior in a totally new way. I was able to taste just a smidgen of the love He has for the women whom I served. I learned about the atonement, about grace, about faith, about sacrifice and about service. I have felt my soul enlarge and stretch and grow. This calling has been one of the hardest things I have ever done, but growth never comes without a price.

I have worked with countless women in this capacity and if I try to list them I am certain to leave someone out. But I can't not specifically mention my presidencies. These three women are the poor souls who had to hold my hand during the early, very steep, learning curve.
*Margo thinks about things is such a cool and unique way. I could sit and learn from her for hours and hours.
*Jill is so organized and is such a practical, yet warm woman. She is insightful, thoughtful and wise.
*Katherine kept me organized and in check. She worked with me the entire three years and always seemed to be the voice of reason when I started getting a little too crazy.
But things don't stay the same for very long and eventually I had to replace both Margo and Jill. (Poor Katherine couldn't get away!)
*Lovely, soft, warm Susan joined me about halfway. Susan was my greatest cheerleader, always kind and so willing to love and watch over the women.
*Carolyn is a fabulous balance between gospel centered and feet on the ground practical. She took so much off my plate, all the while asking what more she could do.

And here is my Bishop. He was the one who would meet me at the hospital when something terrible happened. I have to admit that every time I saw his number come up on caller ID my heart would skip a beat - worried about what awful thing he would tell me this time. But I also I remember the times we would meet together with someone who had been struggling. I saw this man love, counsel and care for so many people throughout the time we served together. I have worked with him, worried with him and cried with him. Bishop always made me feel listened to. He cared about what I thought, what my opinions were and how my family was holding up. He is such a good man.

Diamond was my rock. He held together our family while I was off trying to hold up someone else. He let me cry, even in the middle of the night, and would take me away when I was desperate for respite. He championed me at every turn and told me over and over that I was doing a great job - whether it was true or not. What a true blessing this man has been to me.

But now it's Diamond's turn. Last week he was called as first counselor in the new bishopric in our newly formed ward. He's the one having the lengthy meetings now. He's been out almost every night this week to meet with members of our ward and he's the one who has the weight of responsibility.

While there is a part of me that aches at the thought of being released, it's time. Frankly, I'm just so thrilled to be able to take my turn at home. It's a good thing. Right?