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!