Tuesday, January 29, 2008

i thought i was smart . . .

Sometimes I think I have an average amount of intelligence, and other times, not so much. I attended our Bookclub meeting last night. The book that was chosen was "100 Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I have seen it on many must-read lists but didn't even know anything about it beyond the title. So often with our bookclub, I am glad to read something outside of what I would choose for myself. We had 5 weeks to read this book. Three weeks in, I was only on page 100 (subtitled at this point to "100 Pages of Weird"). I usually read in bed at night to wind down. I tried, I really did, to pick up this book each night, but instead I found the Reader's Digest in my hand. When I did pick it up and open to my bookmark, I had to question myself . . . is this really where I am? I don't remember what's going on. Many characters had the same name, the author meandered aimlessly through story lines -- "stream of consciousness" it's called. One friend likened it to an old grandparent telling stories and dozing a bit in between, then waking up and 'Oh yeah and another thing happened.'

One Hundred Years of Solitude is a book that took the world by storm. It's a furious, passionate, seething novel filled with hallucinogenic scenery. With his groundbreaking book, Gabriel García Márquez not only established himself as a writer with singular vision, he also established Latin American literature and "magical realism" as forces to be reckoned with. García Márquez won the 1982 Nobel Prize for literature.
Nobel Prize? What the Heck!! Well, I do agree with one word anyway -- "hallucinogenic".

Another review uses these exact words: Despite the proliferation of murders, hauntings, vendettas and wars, and the absence of any obvious overall plot line, . . .

So how does a book like this get on a must-read list? Beats me.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

dog gone

The doorbell rang this morning. I paused before I answered it, as I always do. I usually wait for Kipp to get to the door with me so I can scoop up the little silly thing in my arms before I open the door. It only took me a brief moment to realize I didn't hear his jingly dog tags coming my way, nor would I ever again. Emotions hit me and I had to quickly decide if I could still answer the door.
Kipp has been sick for a couple of months and we had to make the decision to take him to the vet yesterday and put him out of his misery.
He's been underfoot for so many years. I keep expecting to hear him run to the door as I come in. The house is far too quiet. Who would have thought a funny little dog could get so attached to our hearts?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

on the road

I got tagged for this on another blog - supposed to list everywhere we stayed overnight in 2007:

West Yellowstone, Montana
Beaver, Utah (We didn't mean to stop here, just got caught in a middle of the night snowstorm)
Thousand Oaks, California
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Cozomel, Mexico
Cayman Islands
Gallup, New Mexico
Denver, Colorado
St. George, Utah
(We especially liked the Gallup, New Mexico Travelodge - whoo-hoo . . Fancy!!)

I tag Rachel, Jennifer and Meghan

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I'm teaching an Old Testament seminary class this year. Teaching a daily class leaves little time for grandiose planning or research. Just staying on top of the teaching schedule takes about all I've got. There is an average of 17 forty minute lessons a month, some covering scriptural topics I am completely unfamiliar with. Lauri and Curtis have both been seminary teachers in the past and have helped me with great classroom activities (a huge help - really). Having said that, on occasion it gets to be 10:30 at night and it's been a very busy/hectic/ridiculous day and I've got nothing for class the next morning. On those days, the poor students in the class get a lesson read straight out of the manual. Obviously, the manuals are an inspired teaching tool, but by design they are written in a fairly general style- made to be developed into lessons specific to the age, location, needs of different classes all over the world. When I go into the classroom unprepared, we all (including me) walk away almost bored.

Knowing that the manual is meant for every kind of teacher, I was a bit taken back when I ran into this little instruction in a lesson plan last month: "Draw or show a chariot like the one in the following picture. "
REALLY now - a horse reared up on its hind legs, pulling an Egyptian chariot and rider in the very act of shooting a bow and arrow? Goodness . . . how many run-of-the-mill adults could draw that???! The alternate suggestion was to show the illustration to the class. The illustration was 2" in size. Not a good size for a visual aid in a classroom.

As it ended up, I asked one of the more artistically inclined boys to draw it on the white board and he entertained us with his artistic flair for quite a while while we continued on with the lesson.

Another surprise I found this week -- a lesson on David and Goliath. It was suggested to make a life size Goliath -- obviously a good lesson idea. It made for a great visual and a fun activity. The budget to run a seminary program is ridiculously small, purchasing even the simplest supplies for such an activity just about wipes out the budget for the semester. So the alternates are: dumpster diving for large cardboard (can't do it-- that requires time, which I don't have), figuring out how to stand up a 9 1/2 foot tall human figure drawn on butcher paper (that would require some kind of framing system, again-- requires time. There are no walls that are tall enough in or around our building) , or overspending the budget (I've done that on many occasions-and apparently will do it once again). The students drew it on foam core board and it held up to the pummeling during the activity.
What surprised me was the instructions for making a sling. Here are the written instructions:
Consider making a sling. Use any sturdy fabric or soft leather for the pouch (an oval about 8x13 centimeters, or 3x5 inches) and something like shoelaces for the strings (any length from 46-60 centimeters, or 18-24 inches). Tie a knot in the end of one string and a loop in the other. The loop goes over the index or the third finger and the knot is held between the thumb and the index finger.

Got that? I was picturing an elasticized, Dennis-the-Menace type rock-flinging slingshot, so I couldn't get my brain around these instructions. Apparently this is the kind that you lasso over the top of your head a few times and let it go at just the right moment at just the right speed and velocity to injure your opponent.
An added bonus of humor in the manual: Let the students use the sling. Do not use stones. Be mindful of student safety and use something that will not harm people or your building--marshmallows work well.
(Would any teacher even consider giving 15 year old boys a handful of rocks and a sling shot?? I think not.)

It ended up being a fun activity. We stood our Goliath up outside, and using a sling, tried to whack him in the forehead with a bean bag. Most of the flinging going on was straight down into the lawn, or into the side of another student's head or up on the roof of the building. We now have more appreciation for David's aiming abilities.

What was more poignant, though, was the discussion afterwards -- aside from just being a cool story - why is it important that we know it or study it?

We started our discussion about "mean girls" at school being like a Goliath, challenging anyone that disagrees with them. (every high school has a few), then we switched the topic to discussing other types of battles in their lives - temptations that seem insurmountable.

We read this incredible quote by President Hinckley:

“There are Goliaths all around you, hulking giants
with evil intent to destroy you. These are not nine-foot tall
men, but they are men and institutions that control
attractive but evil things that may challenge and
weaken and destroy you. Included in these are beer
and other liquors and tobacco. Those who market these
products would like to enslave you into their use. There
are drugs of various kinds. . . . There is pornography,
seductive and interesting and inviting. It has become a
giant industry, producing magazines, films, and other
materials designed to take your money and lead you
toward activities that would destroy you.
“The giants who are behind these efforts are
formidable and skillful. They have gained vast
experience in the war they are carrying on. They
would like to ensnare you.
“It is almost impossible to entirely avoid exposure to
their products. You see these materials on all sides. But
you need not fear if you have the slingshot of truth in
your hands. You have been counseled and taught and
advised. You have the stones of virtue and honor and
integrity to use against these enemies who would like
to conquer you. . . . You can triumph over them by
disciplining yourselves to avoid them. . . .
“Victory will be yours. There is not a [person] within
the sound of my voice who needs to succumb to any of
these forces. . . . You have His power within you to
sustain you”

It was an interesting discussion about the industries out in the world being like Goliath. They are huge, they are rich, they have unlimited resources to influence the population. But teenagers are so darn smart. They know what's out there in the world and they know what they're up against. I love it when they "get" it.

Hopefully, days like this make up for an occasional boring lesson.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

forced family fun

This is an extraordinarily unusual picture. It is a family work day and our daughter is smiling!!!
I thought we were having a hard working day, until I reviewed the photos on my camera. Apparently we had a fashion photo shoot: There was singing in the shower: Sitting down on the job:
And, of course, texting:
Roxanne has been looking for a job at the mall. I don't know why. She is so good at manual labor.
This was a great project for Dave and I and an unfortunate project for the kids. We talked to them a few months ago about vacationing over the school break. There wasn't much enthusiasm. They already had activities in mind with their friends, no one wanted to miss New Years Eve (which was nothing to have been worried about - all of us had an extremely uneventful New Years Eve). After exhausting many trip ideas, we suggested that we remodel the kitchen over the break. That idea was a go for everyone. We have been planning on a remodel for a couple of years. Many things have kept this from happening, but $ is now in place and all we need is a little time and some slave labor - perfect for teenagers out of school.
As it ended up, the company that is going to do the work for us couldn't meet our schedule and it won't happen until February. So -- as a back up plan, we decided to upgrade our bathrooms. Both bathrooms needed a new shower and tub. So we dug into our bathroom first. As with most construction projects, there are many unforeseen complications and set-backs. We spent the rest of the week finishing our shower (which is incredible) then ran out of time - Dave had to go back to work.
S0 -- the kids got no vacation trip, no new kitchen and their bathroom is still in need of repair.
However, on the flip side - Dave and I are ecstatic about our new shower. Apparently, that's just the kind of parents we are.

out of control wish lists

More wish lists showed up on the fridge over the holidays. They are usually expected, but one in particular couldn't be avoided: "DRUM SET" in bold, earthquake style lettering.
I guess the list worked. I will try this method next year.
Rachel went off to Mexico - involved in a humanitarian project. She helped package and distribute food and coats and blankets and toys. She spent Christmas Eve among the homeless and near homeless. She missed Christmas eve and Christmas morning here at home. When she got home mid-day on Christmas, she shared with us her incredible experiences. There were many families giving up their holiday to serve those less fortunate.

Therefore, I was a bit embarassed about our haul on Christmas morning.
Dave's dad spent most of the month with us. He doesn't much like living alone, but does get along pretty well. He spends most of his summers in his enormous garden and then gives most of the produce away to friends and neighbors. He realizes if he doesn't stay active, he won't stay mobile and self sufficient so he still works very hard. During the winter, he spends time at each of his son's homes. It's nice to have him here and nice for the kids to get to know him better. He has lived an incredible life.
Melanie left him a "welcome to my room" message when he came and he left this sweet letter for her when he left.