Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Don't You Know There's a War On?

Don't You Know There's a War On?

Avi is a pretty renowned writer, ya know? So I had some pretty high expectations for this novel. It didn't really live up to them. Or maybe I'm too far removed at this point. I haven't read Avi in a long time; I'm much older and my reading skills are much higher. But I didn't really like it. 

Don't You Know There's A War On? is about a young boy whose father is at war, same as most of the other students in his class. This novel shows how the war changed the lives of everyone, including children. And I really think that was the purpose. So maybe I just need to read this book with the recommended demographic to understand it better.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What is the expectation of privacy in a committed relationship?

So, you know me. I'm watching Secret Life last week. And the topic de jour was privacy. Turns out teenagers love snooping through each others' phones. And it got me thinking. What is the expectation of privacy in a committed relationship? Do you need to snoop? Are you allowed to? Do they tell you everything anyway? Should they? 

I think it all comes down to trust. If you trust your partner to not do anything horrible, then you don't need to check their phone/emails/etc for proof of it. And if you don't trust this person, what are you doing in a relationship with them? 

Trust is a mutual quality in a relationship, and if your partner trusts you, wouldn't they tell you about a compromising text and the situations surrounding it? 

People really just need to talk to each other! But I'm not sure I'm making any sense, so anyway. What do you think? What is the expectation of privacy in a committed relationship? What is your expectation of privacy? 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

That Was Then, This Is Now

That Was Then, This Is Now

"Things used to be simple and now they weren't"

"I wish I was a kid again, when I had all the answers"

When I first picked up this book I had high hopes, but I also knew that they could be shattered quickly. Hinton did amazing with The Outsiders - it's one of my favorite books - but I was not as fond of Tex. So I just didn't know. (Also, I didn't realize how many books Hinton has written!)

That Was Then, This Is Now is a coming of age book that could be said to be a companion to The Outsiders.  It takes place in the same town. Ponyboy Curtis and some of the Shepherds make appearances, even playing a small role in the story line.  The story is about Bryon and  Mark, best friends who are closer to brothers. Mark has been living with Bryon and his mother for years.But of course, as they get older, things start to change and it starts to lead the boys in different ways. And this book tells their story.

I did rather enjoy this novel.  It is not The Outsiders. It did not make me cry. It did speak to me though. I did like it. And I do recommend it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

So I Wish I Could Dance!

So somehow I missed that So You Think You Can Dance was on Hulu until about mid-July, but I've been watching it -- or at least the dances -- when I can. I mean, I enjoy the show, but I don't always enjoy the commentary. So sometimes [a lot] I skip it. Although I did enjoy some of the guest judges: Kristen Chenowith, Neil Patrick Harris, the red-head from Modern Family.  They're cute and snarky. Or I love broadway. Possibly both. :) 

I have always loved dance, but I just couldn't let it be my entire life.  Yet I still love dance and need it in my life. So sometimes it's inspiring [and sometimes it's discouraging] to watch others dance. But this fall -- in one week! -- I start teaching dance classes! I'm excited to make it a part of my life in a positive way, so here is some inspiration for you from So You Think You Can Dance!

1. I love group numbers!  

mmm . .  . Tyce Dioro

Just like Chicago!

And a nice moody contemporary piece

2. I hate Hip Hop but I *love* Contemporary Hip Hop

NappyTabs does it for me everytime

And who couldn't love this?
(And it's a beautiful cover!)


3. And who doesn't love a good-old-fashioned SYTYCD Contemporary love story?

4. A little commentary. Melanie won SYTYCD. And no doubt she is a gifted dancer, she's in many of these pieces. But sometimes she just drives me crazy! Like, I hate her! Why is this?? Maybe it's her hair . . . [wait . . . Mom? Jenn? Maybe does she remind me of someone we don't like?] But here she is, one last time

Monday, August 22, 2011

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

After watching The Office the other night, where Michael came up with the "unique" idea of giving out golden tickets to customers, I was inspired to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. 

And it was super great. I'd tell you the storyline, but you already know it, I'm sure. I love Charlie. It's cute and I really like the moral. The good kid wins, you know? But really. Love. Can't wait to read it to my kids! Poor kids. I'm going to read to them alllll the time :) 

Also, the songs from the second movie are totally found in the book. Mostly because that movie was much closer to the storyline of the book than the first one.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Does Revelation from God Exist Today?

                Many people have a problem with our church’s belief, and practice, of modern day revelation through a prophet of God.  The problems are about its existence, doubt that God speaks to prophets, confusion of when and if the prophets speak from God. Yet revelation is part of the very foundation of our church. Our church’s founder, Joseph Smith, had a great many things revealed to him throughout his lifetime, and this revelation has followed the prophets through today. This is explained in Article of Faith 9, which states “we believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” Our church would not exist without modern revelation, yet many today do not believe it is still happening or have problems with its legitimacy.
                 Many of the revelations given to us, through God’s prophets, are simply not as earth-shattering as in the past, but they are still present.  When many think of revelation, they think of the large revelations made early in the church. But we already know of the blessings of the temple.  We already have the Book of Mormon. And we do not need to flee across the country to escape persecution. We do not need, or receive, the earth-shattering revelation of days past, but that does not mean it doesn’t exist.  If we are to believe that God does not give us modern day revelation, which is to believe that he has never given revelation, for all revelation is modern to those it is given.  To say God does not speak now means that he has never spoken. That is simply not true. How could anything in The Bible or The Book of Mormon be true if God does not speak? How could this church be true if God does not speak? And really, why would He not speak to us? He is our father and He loves us. It stands to reason that he speaks to us today, through both the Holy Ghost and his prophets. He has given us revelation as a gift to help us learn and grow.
                Our leaders today rarely make the claim of speaking with God’s authority; it comes off as council or strong advice, but this does not mean it is not revelation from God.  President Ezra Taft Benson has told us that “the prophet does not have to say ‘Thus sayeth the Lord’ to give us scripture.”  The prophet, by simply speaking as the prophet, is speaking the word of the Lord.  His word is revelation and law, same as any scripture.  Brigham Young speaks of this same truth, stating “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of the men that they may not call scripture.”  And so, as you see, our prophets are receiving revelation for us, they just do not need to present it as such.  When you think of the most current revelation from our prophets, what do you think of? Can you think of a time when the prophet has said “Thus sayeth the Lord?” I cannot. But what about the Proclamation to the Family? Or the Proclamation to the World? Are they not examples of modern day revelation? I think they’re revelation, as well as recent conference talks. We have another General Conference coming up soon.  I encourage you to listen for revelation from the prophet and general authorities.
                The same thing goes for when we ask for and receive personal revelation. It, too, does not have to be earth-shattering.  It is important to remember that the spirit reveals to us with the still small voice, it does not always even speak with words. President Ezra Taft Benson tells us: “The scriptures record remarkable accounts of men whose lives changed dramatically, in an instant, as it were: Alma the Younger, Paul on the road to Damascus, Enos praying far into the night, King Lamoni. Such astonishing examples of the power to change even those steeped in sin can give confidence that the Atonement can reach even those deepest in despair. But we must be cautious as we discuss these remarkable examples.  Though they are real and powerful, they are the exception more than the rule.  For every Paul, for every Enos, and for every king Lamoni, there are hundreds and thousands of people who find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible.  Day by day they move closer to the Lord, little realizing that they are building a godlike life.  They live quiet lives of goodness, service and commitment. They are like the Lamanites, who the Lord said, ‘were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost and they knew it not’.” I would reckon that many of you have had experiences like these.  It often has felt to me in my life more a confirmation by the Holy Ghost than a revelation.  But this is simply another way that God reveals things unto us, and we rarely recognize it as such. I hope that all of you will realize that just because you haven’t had an earth shattering revelation or conversion story does not mean your testimony is not as true and as valid.  It has been confirmed by the Holy Ghost just as surely as if an angel came to you at your bedpost.
                Many also feel that a problem with modern day revelation is that it is not new; we are continually receiving the same council.  However, we will continue to receive this same council until we heed it.  We must be worthy to receive, and understand, the new revelation.  Why would God give us new information if we will not listen, as our track record says? Elder J. Golden Kimball agrees with me in this, saying that members will hear the same talks at conference so long as they are living the same sins.
                Occasionally when new council is given, especially in the earlier days of the church but today as well, it can seem, or actually be, contrary to laws we have been living before.  This was likewise the case when Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses. Another example of this is with Official Declaration 2, which opened the priesthood to all worthy men that they may be extended “all of the privileges and blessings which the gospel affords.”  Some folks had problems with Official Declaration 2, especially given prior statements from prophets and general authorities which were laced with prejudice. Yet those days were to come to an end.  Bruce R McConkie counseled the saints to “forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to present revelation.  We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that has now come into the world. . . . We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept.  We have now added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past.  They don’t matter any more . . . it doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said” prior to current revelation. This likewise applies to us now. Should President Monson receive and release revelation that is contrary, or even seems contrary, to what we think or what we have previously heard, we are to know that he is speaking as God’s mouthpiece.  If we have followed the Lord’s commands and gained a testimony of the current prophet, if we have sustained him, then we know that he speaks from the Lord, and we should not doubt.  That being said, it is okay to doubt and to pray for reassurance or our own testimony, if we need it. But we should also remember that “the Lord will never permit . . . any . . . man who stands as President of this church to lead you astray.  It is not in the programme.  It is not in the mind of God,” as Wilford Woodruff stated. We can trust our prophets, and we can trust their revelations.
                God still gives us revelation today, and it is a gift from Him. He has spoken to his people since the beginning of the earth and will continue to speak for the duration of this existence.  He speaks through his prophets and through the Holy Ghost. He can give earth-shattering revelation or speak with the still small voice of the spirit. But He does speak, and when the prophets speak, it is through him.

Saturday, August 20, 2011



Thirsty by MT Anderson

"And I realize that the decision to be human is not one single instant, but is a thousand choices made every day. It is choices we make every second and requires constant vigilance. We have to fight to remain human"

When I saw this book I thought it was made to make fun of Twilight, actually written in '97. Were any Twilight fans even *born* then?? 

Thirst is a satire, but not on the vampire pop culture cult. (is that redundant?)It's not even a vampire book. It's about being a teenager and being human. Sometimes it takes turning into a vampire to realize what it takes to be a human.

Reading it without the lens of knowledge of intent of Anderson, I don't think I would have enjoyed this book. It seems that many folks did not enjoy Thirsty because they thought it was a vampire book. Silly people. Don't you know who Anderson is and his writing style?

But I did enjoy this book. 
Did I love it? No. 
Was it worth reading? Yes.
Will I read it again? Maybe.
Do I recommend it for you? I don't know. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mao's Last Dancer

Mao's Last Dancer 

Since it was my birthday yesterday, Cass decided we could splurge and redbox a movie. We chose Mao's Last Dancer, figuring as it was about China and Dance, it would appeal to both of us. And it did! I really enjoyed the movie. The dancing was beautiful, and at the end we realized it was based on a true story, so that's really cool! It isn't action-packed or overly emotional, but I thought it was a nice little international indie (is it indie? What is indie?) flick. It's about this boy, Li, who is taken out of his school and away from his family to go to Beijing to serve Chairman Mao by learning to be a beautiful ballerina. Li is good; he is flexible and graceful and has the emotional connection to the dance. Yet the teachers are not overly fond of Li and he is constantly being called 'pig head.' So he works harder. He sneaks out of the dorms at night to practice. And when an American company comes to Beijing, they love Li.  They choose him to come study with them, an exchange student of sorts, for the summer. And Li realizes that he loves the freedom of America much better than the strict regime of communist China. Watch the movie to see where Li ends up! (Oh I sound cheesy!)

Over all, I give it a thumbs up! (mostly for the beautiful dancing. *loves*) So watch!


Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

We have all heard of Nefertiti, Queen of Egypt.  Moran tells her story from the unique perspective of her younger half-sister, Mutny. Nefertiti married Pharaoh Akhenaten, and together they appeared to be quite heretic due to Akhenaten's choice to worship the sun, Aten, as the only Egyptian God. 
They story starts as Akhenaten is still Amenhotep, after the Sun God Amen and his father, and his older brother, and heir, is still alive. It is implied that Amenhotep/Akhenaten kills his sick brother to hasten his own path to the throne. 

Nefertiti and Mutny are still at their parents' home, and the story shows the path of Nefertiti to marry Akhenaten and for her to become Chief Wife and Queen over Akhenaten's first wife. This is important because Nefertiti's father and Akehnaten's mother want Nefertiti to reign in Akhenaten's heretic ways, which is imperative to the storyline, as well as the happiness and support of the Egyptians to Akhenaten. 

Mutny, our narrator, as the younger sister, is thrown into Nefertiti's life as a constant support. Nefertiti walks all over her and demands her presence, to the point where Mutny has no life of her own. 

I strongly recommend this book. I really enjoyed it. Moran explained the importance of the Gods in Egyptian life, as well as the relevance of the change from Amen to Aten. The relationship between the sisters is very real, and the writing is great. I feel like I really got to know Mutny while learning a little bit about Egyptian history. Moran's Nefertiti should definitely go on your list.

[Aside: Nefertiti reminds me a lot of Anne Boleyn. And now that I say that, Akhenaten and
Henry VIII do have quite a few similarities themselves!]

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Rest of Her Life

Rest of Her Life, The

This is my second Laura Moriarty book (turns out it's her second book as well) and I enjoyed it nearly as much as I did the first.  

The story is told form the point-of-view of Leigh, the mother of Kara. Kara was driving, on the phone, with a friend and a dog in the car. And she hit a fellow student, one who was in the crosswalk, headed home. And she died. 

The novel tells the story of this family as they cope, as they try to heal, individually and as a family. Leigh struggles in her relationship with Kara; they were never close and the gap becomes larger because of the accident. At first she doesn't know how to look at her daughter, she sees her as guilty and cannot seem to reconcile her feelings. This novel is all about their relationship, the mother-daughter dynamic and how it changes. 

I did enjoy this book and I would recommend it. I personally did not resonate with Leigh the way Moriarty intended, but I think that is because I am not a mother of a teenager. I am not the intended demographic, so I did not, could not, identify as well. Yet I did like the book. And I think you should read it. Especially you, Mom! :) 

Aside: There was one part, near the end, and I'm like, "Oh! This is it! This is the surprise! This is the twist!!" And then I remembered Jodi Picoult just reviewed the book, she didn't write it. So watch out for that part!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Break-Up

Listen, Izzy, we've had a really good run. When we first hooked up, I was enthralled. I couldn't get enough. I wanted to know everything about you. I feel like we spent all our time together. 

But then things started to get tough.  I was busy but you still wanted to spend more and more time with me. I lost sleep for you. I missed classes for you. I quit my job for you. I gave you my all. 

And it still wasn't enough. 

But now we're done. I don't think I'll miss you. Just please, leave me alone. And maybe one day I'll come back. You are sensational. It's not you, it's me. I just need some space, okay?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Me? Homemaker?

Turns out there is more than one way to make a home! See??

I made this:

AND this! 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Things I Shouldn't Do

[a list of things I learned the week before my wedding]

Watch SVU alone in bed when my phone is on the floor

Read teenager books that reinforce all stereotypes and make me feel like I missed out on my teenage experience. (
fall girl. Not worth your time)

Inhale sushi followed by copious amounts of water. Can one be over-hydrated?

Try to polka dot Jordyn's toes

Buy clothes online

Send all my books to Cedar ahead of me

Get the nook app. Even for free books they wanted my credit card info! The kindle app didn't but maybe because I have an amazon account already?

**Go cold turkey on caffeine!**

[you'd think I would learn . . .] 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Welcome to my home! 

First, we have the living room:

Next we have the kitchen: 

The bathroom: 

The Library: 

  (No, we do not have too many books!)

And last, the bedroom! 


Monday, August 1, 2011

Blind Obedience & Levi Savage

After watching 17 Miracles last night, I've been thinking a lot about what I would do if I were in Levi Savage's shoes. He knew that the Willie-Martins would face trials if they continued west. He knew it would be terrible; people would die. But he also knew that the Lord had commanded these saints to Zion and they wanted to be there badly, not to mention that staying and waiting was nearly impossible. He informed them of the risks and traveled with them on their dangerous journey, committed to their cause.

As latter-day saints, we are commanded to obey the Lord and his prophets, for they speak his word. But what happens when we disagree? Or have doubts? Is it okay to doubt their words? Is it okay to pray for yourself and to receive your own confirmation of the Lord's will? 

When first reading the Book of Mormon we are commanded to pray and to come to a knowledge for ourselves, to gain our own testimony.  We are to gain a testimony, through careful prayer, of the current prophet and his role as such. And when we gain a testimony, is it not clear that they are speaking as the Lord and we should obey? 

"When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan--it is God's Plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give directions, it should mark the end of controversy, God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God."1

Ward Teachers Message, Deseret News, Church Section p. 5, May 26, 1945

And we know this: 

“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” (Wilford Woodruff, Excerpt regarding Manifesto/between Official Declarations #1 and #2) 
 So if the Lord will not allow the prophets to lead us astray, then we need not think over what they have said. And the church is based on obedience. We sing Follow the Prophet. We Obey the Lord's Commands. 

And yet we are taught to pray and to know for ourselves. To gain our own testimony. 
President Joseph F. Smith said, "We talk of obedience, but do we require any man or woman to ignorantly obey the counsels that are given? Do the First Presidency require it? No, never." (Journal of Discources (JD) 16:248)
 How do these line up? What is a latter day saint to do? It seems to me that we are to judge the counsel given and to decide for our own selves. Yet we have sustained the prophet. We should have prayed of his calling and have a knowledge of its truthfulness. So when he speaks, should we not obey? Or do we obtain knowledge and pray and study and then obey?

What do you think? And if you were Levi Savage, what would you do? And what happens if you don't agree? don't believe? and don't want to follow the command?