Friday, January 29, 2010


I sure learn a lot when I teach a class about something I didn't know anything before I started. Thursday I taught a little class on Monet and Impressionism. I have looked at all kinds of websites and checked out a bunch of books and now my dreams are filled with reflection of light and waterlilies! I really have not ever had a chance to study the great artists before. I always pursued singing and sports over drawing and painting. The more I learn the more fascinating it all is to me.

These are a few of the finished products. We used sponges and taped off the bridge, that is why it is so white. It would be fun to try this again with what we learned from this first time attempt. The kids of course painted as fast as they could and then ran off to play.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck

My 12 yr. old son read this book the other day when he ran out of things to read. He said it was so sad and he cried. So I finally got around to reading it. Each time I took a break from reading to get a snack he reminded me how sad it was. Okay, It was Sad! I cried too but there was also this really important happy part about the book...forgiveness and love. So just because it is sad don't pass on this book...just like life work through the sad parts and get to the happiness just on the other side of the cornfield! AND never treat homemade gifts lightly.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Agent In Old Lace by Tristi Pinkston

This was a really good book! I wasn't sure at first because it was LDS Fiction but I was happily surprised at how fun it was to read. In fact I couldn't put it down because it was quite suspenseful and a bit scary. It also had a little romance in there too.
The story starts out with a kidnapping, which alone was really scary and makes you take a look at your own life. Today I even looked around suspiciously at people in the Wal-mart parking lot wondering if they were following me or going to stuff me in their car at gunpoint. I also thought through some made up scenarios in my mind on getting away from a bad person. I wondered if I would be able to keep a cool head and not just panic or freeze out of fright. In the book the lady that was kidnapped, Shannon, does keep her cool and she is scared but still is able to escape. She has a lot of trust in God and prays that she will be able to get through some tough parts and be inspired to know what to do. She remembers things that she has read or learned about what to do in case of the type of danger so she is prepared. Most of the things didn't work but she doesn't give up and eventually something works.
I really like Shannon because she isn't like the oh so popular Belle in the Vampire books which everyone can't seem to get over lately, who is so helpless and silly relying on someone else to always save her. Unlike her Shannon in Agent In Old Lace is self confident and smart. She does what she has to do and keeps her head. Yes she does have a handsome guy that saves her a few times but it doesn't cripple her or the story. He even teaches her some self defense moves so she can even feel more empowered just in case she needs to fight off a sociopath of course.
The story moves right along, it is a bit predictable yet it is written well enough so you get caught up in the story and you don't spend time second guessing the mysteries too much. When I was close to the end I gave a great sigh of a relief when a part came together yet it wasn't the end yet...there was a few more chapters clearing up a few left over details that were intertwined throughout the story from the beginning. It was a like a little bonus.
As for the author doing her homework on the Utah gun laws, well I'll have to give her credit for coming a long way to know what a clip and a magazine were but I am pretty sure you don't need a permit for a shotgun or even to use a firearm on your own property, especially in self-defense. I could be wrong but anyway, minor detail. The FBI in the story sure aren't very professional sometimes also.
Like I said, this was a fun, easy and imaginative book to read. I am looking forward to reading more books by Tristi Pinkston. She has a few historical fiction books out. They look really interesting and I will let you know when I read them!

Whole Book, Healing Book

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

Wow, this was a good book about the Civil War. It was told by a small boy's perspective but it was far from simple. I learned a bunch from reading this about the war and about Pres. Lincoln and what the people thought of the leadership of Generals making good and bad decisions. So many people died! It is a good crash course in American History-Civil War era. The book was written from old letters and researched very well, it is a bit of family lore and historical fiction all together. It covers what communities and families went through as their sons and husbands were sent off to fight. Sometimes they fought against each other, one brother on the Confederate side and a brother on the Union. The political and economic mess was really intense. Five years is a long time to fight a war. Unlike today the news sometimes takes a long time to get to families and into the papers. Most of the people waited and waited for letters or word from someone, anyone, telling how their loved was were.
The young boy in the story is really very intelligent. He is too young to go to war but he grows up really fast as he takes on the farm work left by his brothers. His dad gets sick and he has to take on even more. He has learned to read and takes an interest in following the war through the newspapers. He tracks the war on a map and can explain things to his mom and family.
The book was a bit hard to get into because of the authentic dialect from down Illinois back in the 1860's but it was worth getting over that and reading to the end.


Monday, January 11, 2010

The Promise by Chaim Potok

Well, this 2nd book is nothing like the first book (The Chosen). I did enjoyed it but not as much as the first. So if we don't compare them then I would say it was a good book, not great but educational and interesting. The Promise helps you understand Jewish culture more and psychology. Yep, therapy and the mind...all in a story about Jewish boys growing up in the USA (Brooklyn) right after WWII. The characters are older and going to college now. They have to make choices that effect their lives but also their families and surprisingly their communities. They take a look at their own standing in the religion they grew up in to make some hard choices about the future! I think this is a good book but not exactly on my classics list like the first one.


Friday, January 08, 2010

The Dred Scott Decision by Bonnie Lukes

I picked this book up at the library after reading about the ridiculous way British parliament went about abolishing the slave trade in Britain. Well, seems the court systems in America at the time was just as ridiculous. It took 11 years for Dred Scott to finally get his freedom and it wasn't from a court decision but because he changed owners and was set free.
This book was from the Famous Trials series. The authors take a case and go over the history, include newspaper clipping, time lines and pictures to help it make more sense. Then as you walk through the case step by step. After all of that I conclude that it is a fact that America has a really shoddy history when it comes to common sense and equal rights. Sure it wasn't anything new but to be reminded of stupidity always makes me mad all over again.
The Supreme court was full of wicked greedy men and the lawyers were biased because of being from the South. So many people suffered and yet everyone drug their feet. Sad, very sad. Happily the Civil War was full of courageous people willing to step forward in the name of Freedom for everyone, not only the whites but all colors. Sadly the Civil War was full of death. Happily we can look at history and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Whole Book

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas

If you liked the movie then this book is the rest of the story! The movie really down plays Wilberforce's relationship with God and the influence it had on the decisions he made in life. It also leaves tons of interesting things out but the book helps fill in the gaps. One thing I didn't like was how all the other people that helped Wilberforce like the Champlain group, they were kind of skimmed over. I bet they each have an inspiring story to tell all by themselves. Abolishing the slave trade in Britain was a group effort. Wilberforce was a key player but he wouldn't have got far without his connections and the hard work of so many others.

The Book takes you all the way from Wilberforce's childhood, schooling, friends and then helps you understand why he didn't just give up on his life long pursuit of abolishing the slave trade in Britain despite a lot of defeat and disapointment. He literally changed the world by his actions, letters and speeches. He rallied countless people to good causes and changed the way society thought not just changing a law here or there but actually changed a way of thinking and the old wicked traditions around him. He didn't only go after slave trade but also prison reform, animal rights, and really gross things like hangings, burnings and public dissections.
His faith was strong and unshakable. He truly wanted to walk in Jesus footsteps and found that he could do this best by serving in politics at a time when parliament was dirty and self promoting. He changed this too!
This book wasn't just interesting historically it was also makes you really look at your own life and realize maybe you could be a change for good in your own community. He never lost sight of the goal and even to the last he hoped that he had done enough to make it to heaven.

Whole Book, healing book