Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wrapping Up 2011

2011 was a big year for me with lots of changes! [although nothing too exciting tonight, hence this post] Here's the recap:

It's been a crazy year full of many firsts, and while I can't say I've loved every minute of it, it's been a great year! Thanks 2011!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time

Our first married Christmas was full of family, friends, competitive games of Catch Phrase, Ice Skating, catching up with old friends, and a great time! [warning: long post!]

Our tiny tree & Disney ornament that was too big for it!

Because we would be traveling all over for Christmas, we had ours the night before we left town. I got Cass some tools and a GRE prep book; he got me a subscription to a writer's journal. 

Our first weekend of vacation landed us in Flowell, UT for the Swallow Family Christmas Party. Cass had to work that morning, so we left a little bit late, but we made it in time to eat a little before the basketball games. Some of the cousins play for Millard, so we watched them play. Varsity even won their first game of the season! That night we had a little visit from Santa and handed out presents. We ended up staying up playing with cousins til almost two in the morning! Church was the next day and there was a great speaker. We hung out the rest of the afternoon, until Cass headed south with two St George cousins (he had to work Monday and Tuesday) and I headed north with Grandma Carma.
Cass & Dylan playing at the Swallow Party.

The kids had school Monday and Tuesday, so I just hung out with Mom and (sort of) helped her get ready for Christmas. Tuesday night was the big wrestling duals. Ammon wasn't feeling well, so he opted to wrestle JV at his weight rather than wrestle up for varsity. He won the match but it was clear he wasn't feeling well. Regardless, Ammon and the team won! Wahoo! 

Ammon wrestling!
Wednesday I had a Paparazzi Party. Not too many people showed up, but it was still nice. Veronica, an old dance friend, came by and it was great to see her. Dana and Natalie also came over and we got to visit, which was likewise lovely. Jenn also came by and we made sugar cookies with Jordyn and Matthew. We were going for non-messy, but that didn't really work! 
The kiddos decorating!

Jordyn made a Grandma Angel
 Thursday we helped Cass's friend move and spent the evening with Morrell and Dylan before they headed up to Seattle for football and Christmas. Friday we headed back to my mom's and had a late lunch with all my old high school buddies. It was great to see everyone, and their babies! 
The old group!
 Saturday was Christmas Eve, and it played out perfectly and according to tradition. Girls cooked during the day, then got all cute. Grandpa, Scott, and the cousins came over for dinner.
Jordyn jumped into our picture!
Jenn & Adam

Dad, Jordyn, Mom

Grandkids and Grandpa!
After they left, we got our new Christmas Jammies, read The Night Before Christmas, and headed to bed, where we were all too excited to sleep! 

Sunday morning we woke up bright and early. I told Jordyn she couldn't wake us up before six. And so promptly at six the door swung open. Santa came!! Dad handed out the presents (via Jord) and everyone was happy with what they got. I was especially  happy with my brand new ah-may-zhing pot and pans set. They're lovely!!! I also got two books, from Jenn, which I have wanted for a long time and am so excited to read! (after I finish my library books!) I also rock at picking out gifts -- Matt loved his books from Cass. 

After a cinnamon roll and chocolate milk breakfast and a rest, the lover and I readied ourselves for the day and headed northbound. We pitstopped at Spacious Acres to give Grandma and Grandpa McCoy their Christmas present, and ended up receiving cute towels and an ornament as well! 

We made it in time for church with Chris and Pyper, who was so excited to see us! She couldn't wait to see what Santa brought us, so we did that the minute we got back home. Pyper was so cute and excited. When we gave Chris her present, Pyper was all, "Do you need help unwrapping?" It was cute. Unfortunately, I got sick that afternoon and slept the rest of the day. 

Monday we went ice skating and it was a blast! Pyper even had fun!
Cass & Pyper
Cass, Pyper, me

 Tuesday we also rise bright and early, so we could make it to Cedar for Cass to pick up the on-call phone. I stayed awake the whole drive, so, needless to say, I was a little crazy, but we made it home safe and sound. We had a great vacation and loved to see everyone! Merry (late) Christmas!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

If I had a twitter. . . aka #ihatemoving

  • Woke up this morning, Hubby had unpacked the kitchen! Yay! 
  • It sounds weird to call him hubby. 
  • Moving is sooo  much easier when you don't have work/school. 
  • Dirty colored walls and showers are hard to clean #ihatemoving
  • Ahh! I broke the wall!! #ihatemoving
  • Old apartment = clean and empty! Now to tackle the new. . .   

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! We sure did & posts are coming soon! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mr Finnegan's Giving Chest

Friday was the last day of school before Christmas Break for the middle schoolers, so it was a pretty laid-back day. In one of the sixth grade classes they were listening to this book: Mr Finnegan's Giving Chest with Mr Finnegan based on Dick van Dyke, who also read the story. I loooove Dick van Dyke, and it was a great Christmas story! I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't been at school I totally would have cried. It was super cute and true-meaning-of-Chirstmas-y! Read it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Letter to Gavin DeGraw

Dearest Darlingest Gavin,
You know, I love your latest single: Not Over You. And you really do have a beautiful voice. But every single time I hear it, I get confused. At first I think you're singing that you can only see my beauty in your dreams because in real life I'm ugly. I'm only beautiful in your dreams. And that's kind of rude, ya know? And then, after a rather long pause, you continue to sing, saying "face, anymore." Because, it turns out, all you have is my picture and you're still not over me. It's just a really confusing pause and I really wonder who gave you the go-ahead for this song. Did that not come up between you and the music equivalent of an editor? Because it drives me crazy! 

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress was definitely not the book I thought it would be. Rhoda Janzen is no Elna Baker or Chelsea Handler, which is what I was expecting. Everything I had heard, and even the cover and title, was misleading. It was not the tale of a sheltered Mennonite trying to navigate life with the gentiles. It was a tale of going home in your 40s after a bitter divorce. 
Really, it just hadn't been pitched well to me. I was expecting something different than I got, which led me to not really enjoy this book as much as I would have otherwise. I really hate it when something get so worked up you can't enjoy it in its own right. Case in point. Read on! (but read this before you read Elna or Chelsea! They're funnier.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Willoughbys

In a cute throwback to books I'm sure Lowry read as a child, The Willoughbys tells the story of four children who want to be orphans. And it turns out, their parents don't  like them very much either. It's really a cute little story; I enjoyed it and I think kids really would too! Read on!

I know it's cliche, but . . .

. . . sometimes my job is really rewarding! Teaching dance is, obviously, generally more rewarding than helping struggling students with their school work. But every once in a while, it just clicks and being an aide is pretty fulfilling. All week long I have been trying to motivate a young man, who we shall call Reginald, to take this test that's really hard for him. Reginald would rant about hating school, hating tests, hating just about everything, wanting to completely give up and drop out of school. It's also difficult because at CMS they have "Core" class for two periods in a row which covers all things "English" --reading, language arts, grammar, etc. I only go to one of those two classes, and the work usually overlaps from one class to the next. 
But Friday was Egypt day for the sixth graders, and all they were doing was playing Bingo. So I left and headed to Reggie's first English class period. All I did was sit down next to him. He wasn't really paying attention, of course, but I was able to get him to copy down some notes that he had neglected to take earlier. Right before their break they were assigned an essay which they would be working on for the next period. I asked Reggie to think of his topic. They could pick "My Worst" or "How to". He was back before the break was even over and had a great idea. We went into the back room and Reggie made some great progress with brainstorming. Then he changed his mind on his topic, but was verbalizing a lot of great ideas for it. We did a super quick outline and then he worked for the rest of the period. He got so much done and we didn't have to fight about it at all! I was so proud of him! He said he'd even work on it over the weekend, as they were assigned, so we'll see how he does!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Prince Across the Water

Also in the Stuart Series is Prince Across the Water. It takes place in Scotland, of course, and tells the tale of a young boy who sneaks off and joins their equivalent of an army to fight for the "Bonnie Prince Charlie" in order to restore his father, James Stuart III "The Old Pretender" to the joint English and Scottish throne. He had been replaced by his sister, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange. 
Unfortunately, I hadn't read anything about this throne/succession problem before, and Yolen didn't really explain it well enough for me. So heaven knows a (pre)teen would have no clue what the Scots were fighting for in the first place. Same as Queen's Own Fool, I enjoyed the book, albeit less than others, but would not recommend it to non-nerdy youth. And how many youth are historical fiction nerdy? So while it did make me want to read about the royal Stuart family and the Orange succession, I didn't really find Prince Across the Water to be a complete success. However, the story of the prince was background to the story of the young boy, so from that perspective, it was pretty good. So, mixed feelings. I don't regret reading it, but I'm not certain I would recommend it.

Queen's Own Fool

As ya'll know, I'm a fool for historical fiction, and I'm kind of on a YA FIC kick.
Also, I love Jane Yolen. 
The Devil's Arithmetic? My favorite Passover book.
Briar Rose? So creative! I love the mix of fairy tale with the Holocaust.
I used to read a lot of Holocaust novels.
Turns out, I've actually read this book before. I still enjoyed it though.
I wouldn't really recommend it to a kid who struggles with reading, but it's a great  book for a nerd like me. Mary Queen of Scots? She's a total powerhouse. I've read non-fiction about her! So yeah, Queen's Own Fool was great. Not my favorite Yolen, but still a good read!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Revolution is not a Dinner Party

Ya know, this was a pretty interesting read about Mao & the Chinese Revolution from the perspective of an upper-class young girl. Not the best book ever, but worth a quick read. Again, it's YA Fiction, so keep that in mind. But I liked it well enough. Read on, Revolutionaries!

Flashback Friday: The Pulse

One time, we met Mia Michaels, Wade Robson, and some other cool dancy-dudes.
And took dance classes from them.
It was November of 2007 at The Pulse Dance Convention.
And it was totally awesome. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Gregory Maguire writes weird books. I'm not sure why I continue to read them. Lost is no exception, which I unwittingly keep looking for. So yeah. Weird. A little too vague at parts. It's like he's trying to be deep, but he isn't. Or else I'm a bigger idiot than I thought. . . And that is all. Read on kiddos!

Cleopatra Confesses

The sixth graders at CMS have been doing an Egypt unit for the past few weeks, which inspired me to read about Egypt, ie: Cleopatra Confesses  by Carolyn Meyer. I've read about Cleopatra before, but not as the main character, and not in her youth. This starts with Cleopatra at age 11 and continues throughout her life. I'd rate this novel about in the middle. It was interesting and historical, but there were definitely some dry parts. For a young adult novel, I didn't find it quite interesting enough. I'm not sure teenagers would really enjoy it and might give up halfway through. So, eh, meh. If you're into Cleopatra, it might be worth a go. Otherwise, I'm not sure. Read on, stalkers!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


My Margaret Peterson Haddix addiction must soon come to end, I fear, for there are only so many novels left! But Turnabout was definitely an enjoyable read with a nice sci-fi angle. Scientists approach the nearly-dead at a nursing home and ask them if they'd like to live forever, without quite expressing all the nitty-gritty details. Yet they take these elderly folks, fake their deaths, and give them an injection to reverse their aging. There is supposed to be a second injection, a "cure", to be injected when they want to stop un-aging. But everyone who takes it dies. 

I enjoyed this book as well. I stayed up one night reading it while Cass played a game on my iPod. We're super cool like that. But it's great! Read on!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Escape from Memory

I may have an addiction. Her name is Margaret Peterson Haddix. In this novel we meet a girl named Kira, who, at a sleepover, is hypnotized and regains some strange memories. Memories of a foreign language, a war, and strange women she called "Mama." Kira asks her mother about these memories, and her mom clams up. So what's Kira to do but snoop? All she finds is a key to a safety deposit box, which she couldn't access without her mom anyway. And then she comes home from school and her mom is missing. Unusual, but not suspicious. Until Kira sees the key to the car on the ground, with a note from her mom: "Take the car, go to Lynne's." But Kira doesn't. A strange women shows up at her house, claiming to be her Aunt Memory and saying her mother is a kidnapper and has also been kidnapped. Kira must go with this stranger to save her kidnapper/mother, as well as her home country from war. 

I really enjoyed Escape from Memory. It was a great mystery and had a nice ending. And it was nice and short; I read it while doing laundry. Read on!

Here We Go Again!

You know, I've been meaning to post about our new apartment and have just been to lazy to clean up to take pictures. And then I get this news: we're moving again. So I'm just going to forgo that post, if you don't mind. It's just another apartment, anyway. 

So what happened is this: Katie, one of the other CC's, the one over Cedar Hall, got a job/accepted to grad school at ASU. When she applied she was thinking Fall, but they offered her to start immediately, or, rather, January. So in January, Cassidy will be taking over for Katie. Which is great, because it solves the whole no-building/no-job dilemma that we were worried about happening, but I'm really not wanting to move again!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Better Late Than Never: My Thanksgiving Post

As soon as we got back to Cedar from our Thanksgiving trip, I got a lovely little cold which hasn't been terrible, but was enough to keep my from posting about, well, anything. But we did have a great Thanksgiving and were able to visit both sides of the family, so that was really nice. We drove up to my parents' house Tuesday night. Wednesday morning we sold my car, and then spent the day with my family. My sisters did some arts-n-crafts:

While Cass mostly did this:

Thursday we headed up to Cass's grandparents for an extended-family Thanksgiving dinner. There were about 40 people there, which was pretty different from my Thanksgivings of the past. I'm used to under 20, and half of them my siblings! 

Cass is the oldest cousin, so we spent most of our time playing in the backyard with the kiddos. I meant to get some pictures of the kids spinning Cass on the dizzy-swing but didn't get any done. My bad. Those kids sure have a lot of energy though! 

Friday we just chilled up at Cass's mom's, which was a nice little break. Saturday we headed back down to Salt Lake for McCoy family pictures. Turns out I'm still pictured-out from the wedding! After pictures we went back to the grandparents and Cass and I ended up back out in the backyard with the kids! That night we went out to dinner with Morrell and Grandma Carma and had some great Chinese food!

We spent Sunday back in Mapleton with my parents and siblings and I even got a nap in before we drove back to Cedar. 

It was a great vacation and I loved seeing everyone. I'm so grateful for the many blessings I have been afforded, especially my family! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011


In the last Missing book, Katherine and Jonah are sent to 1611, alone. Time is unraveling. And it's up to them to save everything.

This book was my least favorite of the series. I did enjoy it, but it got a little too time travel-trouble-y for me. It was exciting but it got a little confusing at the end.


In the third Missing book, Jonah and Katherine are sent back in time with a new girl. Andrea is the first European child born in the Americas, Virginia Dare. Only this time there are complications. And time is in danger!! [I'm so vague today!]


The second book in the missing series, Sent is very much my favorite. It mixes science fiction, historical fiction, and time travel! Plus they travel to just about my favorite time in English history!!

At the end of Found, Jonah and his sister Katherine grab on to their friend Chip and are hurtled back in time to the 1400s. Chip and Alex, who was sent before Chip, are the missing Princes in the Tower. And it's up to these kids to fix time and save the day.


As ya'll know, I love Margaret Peterson Haddix, so when I saw the kids at school reading a new series by her, I clearly had to give it a go. Found is the first book in the Missing Series. It's crazy exciting and I don't want to give too much away, so I'll just say that I highly recommend it. Especially so you can read the next book: Sent.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

CVHS Craft Fair

Every year the CVHS Talons have a craft fair as a fundraiser and have dancers from around town come for entertainment. My first visit was in 2006 and was my first date with Cass. Sort of. As long as a bet doesn't make it not a date, for he and I made a bet. He thought I couldn't go a week without tv. Turns out I'm pretty stubborn, so I won the bet. So he had to take me out on a date. [I'm not actually sure if this was my idea or his, or what would happen if I lost the bet. Okay, so I just asked Cass what would have happened if I lost. His response: "You would have paid for dinner. Or that's what I told you." -- "So really you just wanted to take me out to dinner?" -- "And get you to stop watching tv" -- "So I would spend time with you?" and he smiled sheepishly. Oh my husband :)]  Since won, I got to choose the date. There was only like three places to eat in Cedar back then, so I chose Wingers. I also had to dance at the craft fair with Waukeenyans that night, but I wasn't taking any chances. This date would not be postponed! We had a lovely dinner at Wingers, well, I did. He ordered something gross. He's since learned the error of his ways. We then sojourned to the craft fair where he paid to watch me dance. Afterwards we went back to my apartment and watched Gilmore Girls. I thought I would punish him for making me go with out :P However, I quickly fell asleep, mostly due to a lack-of-caffeine migraine because I'm a good date and only got water at dinner. And Cassidy left, lonely and dejected. Poor guy. I make a pretty bad date!

This year I was a much better date for the craft fair -- at any rate, I didn't fall asleep or subject him to Gilmore Girls! Again, we went to Wingers; I just love their sticky fingers! And fries!! mmmm :) The girls I teach were dancing at the craft fair, so we had to get their half an hour before they went on and then be there for the dances. I was busy with the girls for the first half hour, so lucky Cass got to walk around and look at all the cute crafty booths. Then my girls danced; Cass got to record them for me while I stood on the side, shepherding them on and off the make-shift stage. (You can watch their dances on my "choreography" page) After the fair we came home and played Risk. Don't worry, I totally won. And, thanks to the diet coke I'd had that afternoon, I was still good to go, so we watched 10 Things I Hate About You, which we both enjoyed, so it was a win-win situation! Overall, I had a great night! Date nights are always great and my girls did a great job at the craft fair!

The Son of Neptune

In Riordan's thrilling sequel to "Lost Hero" the reader is reunited with a familiar hero, Percy Jackson, as well as the familiar Greek and Roman myths Riordan loves utilize and retell. Only this time, Percy has no clue who he is. His memory has been completely erased and he is stranded on the west coast fighting gorgons.

Percy is found, however, and taken to Camp Jupiter by Hazel and Frank, children of Roman Gods. Everyone at Camp Jupiter is a descendent of a Roman God and a member of this new Roman Legion. Percy is simultaneously called a son of Neptune and a Greek, which is a little confusing. So Percy almost fits in, almost belongs, but it's not quite right. And he keeps having weird dreams, memories almost.

After a thrilling "game" of war at camp, with Frank proving himself and being claimed a son of Mars the war god, it is decided to send Frank and Percy on a quest. Mostly because Mars says so.

The quest is in Alaska. Even getting there is an adventure. So read on for a fantastic tale of Roman demigods battling monsters. It's a fantastic read and they might even save the day!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quick Update!

Hey folks! We're all settled in the new place and finally got the internet set up! So no worries, I am, in fact, alive, and sooner or later I'll get back to posting about the books I read. Which, ya know, is mostly for my pleasure :) And then maybe I'll write about my life!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Good News!

[she's dead! the witch of the west is dead!
the wickedest witch there ever was-
the enemy of all of us here in Oz-
is dead! Good News!!]

On an unrelated note to Wicked, but most definitely good news --they found us a place to live and Cass gets to keep his job! It's a little further away from campus and while I thought it would be in the same ward it's not going to be. But everything is going to work out just fine! Thanks for all your kind thoughts and prayers!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Potentially Homeless

Well folks, Juniper's days are coming to an end. It's been a long time coming but it's now inevitable. There are multiple leaks in the plumbing causing thousands of gallons of water under the building as well as rendering the heating almost useless. Housing had a big meeting today for all of Juniper residents and broke the news. There were cheers. There were tears. Most of the residents are freshman and the news completely overwhelmed them. Housing is working on finding options for the students that are pretty generous. But they're still freaking out that they're homeless. And for the moment, we don't really know what's going to happen to us. So we are potentially homeless too!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bridge to Neverland


What if Peter Pan was real? What if starstuff was real? And what if you found a secret note from a starcatcher that led you on a crazy adventure to find and save starstuff? Well, then you would be the main character of Bridge to Never Land. 

But really. Let's be honest here, m'kay? This book was not a page turner; it took me waaaay longer to read this book. It was an okay book, but just not up to par. Not really what I expected. Plus it was super current. iPhones, iPads, etc, are mentioned far to frequently. However, I could tell that Barry & Pearson had done their research on Disney World. They even used the term "cast member"!! 

Anyway, this is super random. But the point is: maybe don't waste your time with this one. Save it for the kiddies.

Peter and the Sword of Mercy

In our final Peter chapter, which takes place directly prior to the Peter Pan story most common with Wendy, John, and Michael, Molly Aster is now grown up. She has married her friend, George Darling, and they have three children: Wendy, John, and Michael. George, as you know, is a very practical man, and has encouraged Molly, now Mary, to put all this nonsense and magic talk behind her. 

But then strange things start to happen. John, and original lost boy who chose to grow up with Molly, came to visit. And then he disappears, a victim of the underground kidnappings. Mary/Molly starts investigating, and she too disappears. It seems to be up to Wendy to save the day . . . 

And so our novel unfolds and the baton is handed off. I really did like this adventure and totally recommend it! Read On! 

Peter and the Secret of Rundoon

"I'll be careful," said Peter, grinning. "Aren't I always careful?'
"No," said James 

In the third adventure of Peter's, we are taken to Rundoon as the starstuff is once in danger of evil people obtaining it. The dark is rising, and it is up to our heroes, once again, to save the day. In this adventure we meet the lost boys: Curly, Tootles, Nibs, and the twins. They had been sent to Rundoon to work for the King, but Peter invites them to escape and join him.

The shadow-man, the dark, is returning. It's kind of neat, actually, because he tries to use Peter's shadow, but can't get full control over Peter. At one point, Peter's shadow is separated from himself, which explains that right there. 

So I don't really have much else to say about this book. I liked it though! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Peter and the Shadow Thieves

In this thrilling adventure of Peter's, a mysterious dark force who can control shadows is after the starstuff, and it is up to Molly and Peter to save the starstuff, Molly's parents, and themselves.

Some fun things:
-Peter and Tink meet a man by the name of Barrie in the streets of London
-Molly Aster is friends with a boy named George Darling
-A main part of this story happens at the Tower of London. Molly tells us that her father has taken her there before, but left her outside with a guard, "if I asked why, Father would make some joke about not wanting me to get my head chopped off"

I did enjoy this book. Barry and Pearson keep it as exciting and page turning as the first as they give us more of Peter's history. As this one is based on shadows I thought it would give us some insight into Peter and his shadow . . . but you'll have to wait for the next one: Peter and the Secret of Rundoon!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Double Identity

In Margaret Peterson Haddix's Young Adult Mystery Double Identity, we read of Bethany, a young girl who is suspiciously left at a stranger's house. A stranger who is her aunt. All over town people are "recognizing" Bethany, looking like they've seen a ghost. Yet noone will tell Bethany anything. Bethany strives to figure out not only who she is, but all the mysteries of her family. It turns out *SPOILER!* that Bethany had a sister, a sister who died years before Bethany was born. A sister who grew up in the town where Bethany has been stranded. A sister Bethany resembles almost perfectly . . . because she is her clone. 

Near the end of the book, Bethany starts to think about what it means to be her instead of a clone of her sister. Thinks of how she can be unique. And for a children's book, MPH has this covered. I would like to see this concept tackled at a deeper level though, where they already know they're a clone and are striving to make themselves their own (which isn't really what Double Identity is about. It's more solving the mystery of her origins) as opposed to a copy. But overall I did enjoy and do recommend this book. Read on!

Vermillion Castle

Since my parents bailed on Saturday, Cass and I found our own hike to go on. Right nearby Parowan, Vermillion Castle is a "moderate hike" with steep, narrow switch backs, but great scenery and a few Hoodoos along the way and at the top. Here is our journey in pictures!

At the trail head

Scaring off mountain lions!
First Hoodoos, about half way up!

Cassidy's Metaphor

Climbing up the big rock!
Me climbing the big rock

King of the Rock!

View at the top -- Can you see why it's called Vermillion Castle?

The other side
With the Hoodoos at the top!

We had a great hike! It wore us out but we can't wait to go again; it's beautiful at the top and totally worth it!