Thursday, January 31, 2008
After four weeks of the new year my resolutions are still going well. I've been making an effort to have some scripture study time after Little Dude starts his nap each day. I haven't been really consistent so far, but I think it's a time that works well for me and I've been feeling more in tune than I have for quite a while. I've also been going to the gym pretty consistently three times a week, except for that week when I was sick. I think that each month I'm going to try and focus on adding one more healthy habit to my life. I'm not sure what to do in February. I'm not quite ready to cut back on sweets, especially my new favorite addiction. Maybe I will work on getting more sleep. I have a bad habit of staying up until midnight and that doesn't work well with my early mornings.
Also, I just received a new calling this last week. I felt a strong prompting to accept the calling, but I'm scared to death about it too. I'm going to be helping a boy in the Primary who needs one-on-one attention. I don't want to say too much about him out of respect for his family; I'm still a little stunned that they felt like I would be a good person for this calling and I feel very overwhelmed. I got a chance to get started last Sunday and I think it's going to be a challenge. At the same time, I feel a potential for growth in some way so we'll see.
That pretty much sums up January. So far this year is off to a fairly positive start. Hopefully it will keep going that way.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Then I came home and got on the internet and found out that President Hinckley had passed away. I guess my thoughts of mortality and death were appropriate after all. I can remember clearly finding out that President Benson had passed away. I was working at Taco Bell near my house and had stopped off after my shift to see my mom at the laundromat where she was washing my family's clothes. She told me that the prophet had died and I remember feeling really lost because I didn't remember any earlier transition. For some reason I have little memory of the tenure of President Hunter. I also clearly remember the General Conference when President Hinckley was sustained; I raised my hand to support him even though I didn't know much about him or what he would be like as a leader. He has been an amazing leader and an inspiration to me. His signature is on my mission call and I have had the opportunity to hear him speak in person several times. I know I will miss him, but I am happy that he was able to live such a full and positive life. I only hope I can do the same.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Second of all, we have set up an email account for S-Boogie. At first I was a little hesitant about doing it, but she loves dictating emails for us to send on her behalf, and she can actually type a few words herself. It's a great tool for keeping in touch with distant family members. Plus she sends me some very sweet notes sometimes. Tonight I received this in my inbox:
Today is fun and I love my mama and everybody and all my friends love me and I love you and you love me and it was fun today to be with you. And I had fun in my class today and everybody was fun with me but I was sad a little bit times in my class and then I started not feeling sad anymore. And tomorrow I will have fun with you. And I love Mommy and Mommy loves me. And let's have fun together tomorrow, okay? Okay, we can have fun together tomorrow.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Back to the shoes. Usually I buy my shoes at thrift stores. I actually used to buy them at Payless, but most of their styles scare me. I don't like heels, I don't like suede, I don't like strappy things (they make my feet look like sausages). For some reason in my head I don't think I should pay more than ten dollars for a pair of shoes. I'm beginning to realize that this is a bad idea. Especially since even Target doesn't sell shoes for less than twenty dollars. Plus I've been having a problem getting shoes that fit well. Like I said, many styles tend to give me sausage foot. I also have the problem of ending up with floppy shoes after I wear them a few times. Especially with tights or thin socks, my heels start popping out of my shoes and I feel like a moron shuffling along trying to keep from losing a shoe at church.
Today I finally looked up how to buy shoes online and measured my feet. Guess what I found out? I have wide feet. Very wide feet. According to one chart, I could possibly require extra-wide shoes. No wonder I love my Birkenstocks so much. Unfortunately I can't wear Birks while I teach. Also, I usually try on 8 1/2s or 9s, but I apparently should be somewhere between 7 1/2 or 8. The main reason why I am having a shoe crisis is that I now spend many hours a week standing up teaching. My feet hurt. Does anyone out there in blog land have some suggestions of where I could go to buy some stylish, comfortable, reasonably priced shoes that won't fall off my feet while I'm walking around the room?
By the way, this is just more evidence that I really am a Hobbit. I have enormous feet, I love to eat, and I'm short and hairy. Just don't ask me to guard the Ring; I'd rather not depart on an epic quest right now.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
I really don't get why people are freaking out because, as an actor, he pretended to be a homosexual man in a movie. Um, that's what actors do. Why don't we condemn everyone who plays child molesters, mass murderers, adulterers, torturers, and so on? How many people were picketing Marlon Brando's funeral? Also, has anyone who thinks Brokeback Mountain promotes a "gay agenda" actually seen the movie? If you can call living a life of quiet desperation, sleeping with prostitutes, breaking up your family, and getting beaten to death some kind of gay idyll, then I think you're pretty strange. While it's true that the movie portrays its characters sympathetically I had no desire to switch my orientation and move to Wyoming (sorry Sam). This is yet another reason why I'm glad I don't listen to Fox News.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
I remember being about five or six and deciding that I wanted a Corolla. It had to be almond-colored. I don't think I really even knew what a Corolla was, but somewhere I had heard the phrase "almond-colored Corolla" and decided that it sounded fascinating. There were a lot of phrases I fell in love with as a kid, even though I didn't really know what they meant. For a number of years my sister and I were obsessed with Weight Watchers, even though we had no clue what it involved. I just loved the alliteration of the phrase.
When I was about 11, the Geo Storm appeared on the scene. I thought they were so cool, although I have no idea why. But I wanted one. It had to be turquoise. Of course this was also the time when bike shorts with lace, hypercolor shirts, and giant bangs were cool.
During high school I decided that I wanted a Jeep. I wasn't sure if I wanted a Cherokee or a Wrangler, but I liked them both. This was the time during my life that I became obsessed with Alaska. I had a plan to buy a Jeep and spend the summer after high school driving the Alaska Highway. I used to be a lot more adventurous and outdoorsy than I am now. I'm not sure what happened, but I haven't been camping since high school.
I was trying to find a good picture of the specific car I was in love with, but I couldn't. There was a particular two-door model with cute bubbly headlights that was all over Spain during my mission. I really wanted one. I wanted to move back to Spain and live in a fun apartment and spend my days driving like a maniac with crazy Euro-pop blasting from my sporty little European car. Sigh.
I think that at least half the people in Seattle drive Subarus. I wasn't even aware of them until we moved here, and for a while I went through a period of intense Subaru jealousy. They are roomier than our car, but still fun. And they drive well in ice and snow. I just need to get one and cover it with some fun bumper stickers like "Republicans for Voldemort" and "Who Would Jesus Bomb?". Then I'll fit right in.
Right now I have a bit of minivan jealousy (just a bit), but mostly I long for something with remote entry. Trying to get two kids in the car while having to unlock every door by hand is not very fun anymore. We'll probably be getting a different car in the next year or two, and that is pretty much my only requirement as of right now. Hopefully by the time we're actually car shopping I can define my requirements a little more than that.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Several friends have posted this new meme, which I think is kind of cool. We travelled a lot last year, sometimes for happy events and sometimes for not so happy reasons. But here's a list of the places I stayed overnight in during 2007. I only hope 2008 is not quite so hectic.
El Cerrito, CA
Baker City, OR
Orem, UT (two trips in a row)
Salt Lake City, UT
Spanish Fork, UT
Orem, UT (again--hi Lika!)
Cannon Beach, OR
Whidbey Island, WA
Baker City, OR
Spanish Fork, UT
Las Vegas, NV
I think Orem is the clear winner this time around. I have no idea about our plans for 2008. We will probably not be travelling anywhere until this summer, and that will also involve moving. So things could be interesting. I kind of hope for a night or two away somewhere on an island for my birthday, but I'm not holding my breath. If we have a choice between an island getaway and moving money, I'm willing to sacrifice romance for that.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
I've always enjoyed reading the news, but it's really getting me down lately. It's not only that. We've had several family members and friends going through some serious trials too. I think that just adds on to everything else. It's kind of strange because last year was a very bad time for me, and I felt like it wasn't for many other people I knew. Now I feel like the only one with blessings.
My mom just called last night to let me know that my uncle died in an avalanche yesterday. Not only that, but there were two other guys with him. All of them have families and they are all from the same small town and ward. My heart aches. Within less than three years my mom has lost a sister, her mother, and now a brother-in-law. This post doesn't have much point, really. I still have a testimony and I still know that "joy comes in the morning". But sometimes the night seems really long.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
With some Christmas money (well, gift card) we finally got a laundry sorter. I'm in love with the fact that my laundry room is now organized and we don't have piles of dirty clothes and random baskets hanging around.
The other day at Ikea we picked up these bibs and they are perfect for Little Dude. I love the fact that they stay on and they cover up his entire shirt and sleeves. So nice! By the way, if you live close to Ikea and don't have any of their kids' dishes, you really should pick some up. They are cheap and durable.
I recently discovered Cinnamon Wheat Thins and they are my new snack of choice. Not too sweet, but just enough to feel like a treat.
We also checked out Baby Signing Time from the library and I really like it. I was a little skeptical because we have the first three volumes of regular Signing Time and they have most of the same signs. But I like the music on these and the kids on them are all little, plus it's signs that are most useful to little guys. Little Dude now consistently signs hat, shoes, and bus when we go outside.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Tomorrow we get back into our usual routines. A month of vacation sounded like a good idea, and it really was for the most part. But that doesn't mean that we're not all a little bit happy to get back to regular life. I'm still not sure yet if I'm going to be teaching one class, two classes, or none at all. It's looking like two classes but nothing is certain yet. Either way, I'm still feeling a little sad about the end of the holidays. If you are too, try this recipe for Spanish hot chocolate. It's basically like drinking hot chocolate pudding. Make sure you have some kind of pastry to dip in it:
For each serving, mix together 1 cup milk, 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch, and 2 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate. Whisk constantly over medium heat until chocolate melts and mixture thickens and begins to bubble. It will thicken more after standing for about five minutes, and that will also help keep your tongue from burning up. I made a giant batch by using eight cups of milk and an entire bar of bittersweet chocolate from Trader Joe's (pound plus!). It's also best if you use whole milk. Just don't think about the calories.
Friday, January 04, 2008
According to my blog, I read 96 books last year. I can think of at least 5 more that I read in January and February, so I probably read somewhere between 100 and 110 books in 2007. There were also some that I started and didn't finish; I've learned not to be afraid of doing that if I don't like something.
I read 46 fiction and 50 nonfiction books.
I read 58 books by women and 38 books by men. I know that I have a tendency to gravitate more towards female authors. I think this has more to do with subject matter--I like to read about women. It's more familiar and comfortable to me.
Almost all of the books I read were published during the later half of the twentieth century. They are also almost all by writers who write in English. I think next year I should try to read more books in Spanish (I didn't read any this year!) and more classics that I haven't read in a while or that I haven't ever read.
A few of the books that stand out to me from this year are:
Never Let You Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Finding Daddy by Louise Plummer
Strange Piece of Paradise by Terri Jentz
A Girl Named Zippy and She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel
Falling Through the Earth by Danielle Trussoni
Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
I also watched 31 movies, but I didn't start writing those down until May so the number is probably closest to 40. At least I watch a lot of movies in foreign languages. The standouts for me were:
The Motorcycle Diaries
The Lives of Others
Todo sobre mi madre
Maria Full of Grace
States of Grace
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
1. Physical Fitness: Yes, I know this is an ongoing project. But I really want it to work out. I see people around here who are so tanned and fit and can jog effortlessly instead of puffing around in too-tight jeans like I do. So I would really like to lose some weight--maybe 20 pounds or so this year. Even more than that, I want to feel comfortable and healthy. My Christmas gift was a gym membership, so hopefully that will help me on my way.
2. Spirituality: Another ongoing project. But I haven't been feeling close to God in the way I used to for some time now and I want to fix that. I'm trying to find some time in my schedule for study, prayer, and pondering. I want to make that a regular part of my life from now on.
Well, that's about all that I can think of. There are plenty of other things, like being kinder to my children and husband, fulfilling my callings better, learning more languages, etc. But I think I want to put my focus on these two areas of my life and see what happens. Check back in a year and find out.
This is a very good book, although I didn't feel as strongly about it as the Goose Girl series. If you liked those books then you will certainly like this one; the story is fairly similar. The voice of the main character is very strong and I liked her a lot, plus the diary format is interesting. I did figure out the major twist in the plot fairly early on, but it was still a good read.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
I mostly liked this book, but it probably won't go on my list of favorites. The writing was generally pretty good and the characters and story were compelling, but sometimes I felt too much like the voice wasn't very authentic. It felt in places like the author was trying to cram in all the information about nineteenth century China that she could, and while I appreciated that, it tended to distract from the story too much.
Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
I liked this book quite a lot and think it would make a good read for a book group. It's a great introduction to women's history and I think it serves as a non-threatening explanation of feminist theory that could help a lot of people I know who are scared of that term. If you've studied feminism in depth you probably will find this book a bit boring; although Ulrich is a professor and scholar, she is writing for a popular audience at an introductory level. When looked at from that angle, I think this book is great.
Women's Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind
I've had this book on my shelf for a while, but I never got around to reading it. I found many parts of quite interesting and thought a lot about how they apply to me. On the other hand, many of the examples and conclusions seem dated now, twenty years after publication. It would be interesting to conduct a similar survey of women who have grown up with the changes in education brought about by the women's movement and see how they are different. I felt like some things in the book were exactly like my experience, but others seemed foreign to me.
Finding Daddy by Louise Plummer
Several years ago Mr. Fob and I went to a reading by Louise at BYU. She read an excerpt from this book, which was still unfinished at the time. I was a little disturbed by the dark subject matter, but she thought it was fun to write a thriller. I've been looking forward to this book for a while, and it did not disappoint. My only complaint with the book was that it was too short--I wanted to know more about the characters' lives after the book ended.
Enrique's Journey by Sonia NazarioThis book is adapted from a series of articles in the LA Times and it's quite engaging. I learned a lot more about immigration than I knew before; I didn't know the extent to which immigration from other countries was affecting Mexico nor how many women with small children were leaving them behind to come to the United States. The New York Times has also been doing a series about immigration that has a lot of interesting new information as well. When I finished the book I wanted to know more about the people and families involved, but their future is still unknown.
The Island of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey
I really wanted to like this book. The subject matter was interesting and covered a lot of things that I like (true crime, history, libraries, maps). But I fell asleep twice while reading it. It was long and felt too often like the author was trying too hard to piece together things that weren't meant to fit. There were a lot of awkwardly phrased sentences as well and just plain tangents that left me feeling sleepy.
I Thought My Father Was God: And Other True Tales from NPR's National Story Project
This book was fascinating; it was a little like reading PostSecret and a bit like testimony meeting and a bit just plain weird. I really enjoyed it and found myself staying up late to finish it. Many of the stories felt a little strange and unpolished, but they were all very real and "true" as well. My only complaint was the title--I don't really like it, and it's not even the title of a story. When I finally got to the line itself within the book I felt disappointed. So--I don't like the title, but I loved the book. It was a great way to finish the year.
An Inconvenient Truth
After waiting for a very long time for our copy from the library I was eager to see this movie. Generally, I liked it. Most of the information in it was not new to me, but I thought the presentation was thoughtfully done and well put together. There were a few parts that seemed to be more about "why Al Gore is cool" instead of global warming, which I found weird. Also, it's good to watch the supplemental stuff on the DVD because there's a whole section of updates on some of the information from the DVD.
I'm now beginning to feel bad for ignoring Almodovar for so long, because he really is an excellent director. He manages to turn the tragic and ludicrous into something sweet and touching. This is another fabulous movie, not only because of the acting and the story, but the cinematography as well.
To be honest, I've never felt very attracted to Frida Khalo's work. I think it is interesting and certainly worthy of the fame it has gotten, but it's just not my style. However, I really liked this movie, especially the incorporation of her art in very interesting ways. Post-modernism is certainly the best way to go with an artist like Frida and I think this movie works on many levels. Just be warned: like one review pointed out, the movie depicts "hedonistic artists exploring their sexuality" numerous times.
The previews on this DVD were for the third Left Behind movie (it looked terrible), Rent, and DVDs of shows from the Seventies like Good Times and Sanford and Son. Apparently the marketers wanted to cover all their bases: religion, music, and black people. I enjoyed watching this movie and making some comparisons in my mind between Black cinema and Mormon cinema. The production values in this movie were higher than many Mormon movies I've seen, but I think if Mormons keep making movies this is where they could be in fifteen or twenty years. Anyways, I actually liked this movie a lot. The acting was decent, the story was interesting (and a lot of the details were new to me), and the music was great.
The Simpson's Movie
The main thing I thought when this movie finished was "it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be." It's really not. If you like The Simpsons you'll probably like this; if you don't, you won't.
This movie was very predictable in the plot and the characterization, and the direction wasn't spectacular. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it a lot and it was a good, fluffy, fun movie.
Our last movie of 2007; after watching this and Lost in Translation I'm officially a Sofia Coppola fan. This movie is not like your usual historical costume drama, so I think that if you don't expect that you won't be disappointed.