Tuesday, January 29, 2013

30 Weeks Down . . .

10 weeks to go! I don't know how my belly can get even bigger! 
But really, everything is going well. I've gotten sick a few days, and obviously my back has had pain, but nothing terrible. Baby girl is doing really well; she loves to move around, especially when I'm trying to sleep. When I'm lying in bed, on my side, she'll bounce from one side of me to the other, so up and down like she's bouncing on a trampoline. Sometimes it feels like she's doing back flips in there too, especially after I eat! The worst thing she does is kick me in the ribs, in fact, she kicked one out of place! So last week I finally got myself to the chiropractor; I went again today. Hopefully I'll get sorted out here soon and get some sleep before the baby gets here! Not too much longer to wait!
about 28 weeks
 almost 30 weeks


today -- bigger every day!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Chronicles of Narnia

After many years from whence I set my mind to it, I finally read The Chronicles of Narnia. It was very interesting to read these works that many have discussed and, actually, debated.  One of the main debates is which order to read them in: how Lewis wrote and published them, or in chronological order, as they are currently published. My copy has all seven in one, and I read them in the order the appeared in this compilation, chronologically. 

One of my reasons for wanted to read Narnia in the first place was because I'd heard it was like a children's bible; a way to present some of the stories and morals from the bible to young children. In fact, when I first read The Magician's Nephew a few years ago, I wrote a paper on it connecting it to Genesis's telling of the creation and the tale of Adam and Eve. It seems to me that Narnia certainly has many links to the bible, but not in an annoying way, more in a teach-your-child kind of way.

Lewis denied allegorical intent in his writing, instead stating that the aspects of Christianity he presented are merely "supposition"1 and I find they're still a great series regardless of their Christian aspect. They're written for younger children, but enjoyable to all ages. I highly recommend this series (even though I didn't like the ending!): just read the books before the movies because they're very different, especially in the battles. Read on! 

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narnia_books  Yes, it's Wikipedia, but I'm quoting a cited source. I just don't know if it's 51 or 52! :) 


There's a quote on this cover about Barefoot making you want to pick up everything and head to the beach. Which it did-- Just to get me away from this book! Elin Hilderbrand writes to show us how smart and well-read she is, trying to make herself sound brilliant and comparable to the great works of literature one might study as an English major, while presenting herself as a beach-read chick-lit author. And Barefoot certainly appears to be a beach read, but it clearly is not.  Hilderbrand, in mixing her demographics and genres, seemingly to obtain more readers, must be losing readers from both sides. She attempted to write an intellectual beach book and failed. I can't say that I recommend this book. 

let's talk about princesses

There's a modern movement, especially among feminists, against princesses. According to them, princesses teach our daughters to be spoiled, selfish, to let the men "rescue" them.  People don't want to expose their daughters to princess any more.  They want to get them away from all things pink and girly, exposing them instead to strong women role models. 
If you can't tell, I disagree.  And not because I'm kind of a princess myself or because I don't want my daughters to be strong women. My daughters can be whatever, whomever, they like, as long as they are good people

If my daughters love pink and princesses (which may be genetic at this point!), okay. I'm good with that. But good princesses are polite. It's the step-sisters who are snots.  Cinderella remains a lady despite her treatment by the stepsisters. Princesses have responsibility   They have to set a good example.  They have to take care of their people. 

There are also examples in real princesses. Princess Kate, who's technically only a duchess, is one of The Hundred Most Influential People in the World according to Time MagazineShe supports many charities and is to volunteer with the Scout Association in North Wales. She always appears ladylike and professional in public. She doesn't dress like a tramp. She doesn't act like Paris Hilton or Snooki. She acts like a princess and is a great role model! Why wouldn't I want my daughters to act like a princess? 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Wide-Awake Princess #2: Unlocking the Spell

ED Baker introduces us to a new kind of princess in her Wide-Awake Princess series.  This princess is named Annie, and she is unaffected by magic.  She can't be "magicked" beautiful, like other princesses, but she also can't be placed under any magic spells. And when Annie gets too close to someone, their magic starts to fade. 

Unlocking the Spell is the second in the series, but it is fairly easy to read as a stand alone. I didn't read the first one, but I could put enough together (context clues!) to understand and enjoy this novel. 

I enjoyed Unlocking the Spell for its morals and lessons.  Princess Annie isn't a traditional princess. And that's okay. Her sister is a traditional princess: girly, a bit of a priss, and beautiful. And that's okay too. Growing up, they weren't necessarily friends, but throughout this novel, they learn a lot about each other and grow closer together on their quest. There's other nice lessons to be learned from this novel. It's great. 

Written on about a 4th-5th grade reading level, I would recommend this to upper elementary readers (and their parents!). However, it was still enjoyable for me, much more enjoyable than other books I've read with students at that level! It's also nice that the princesses are older, so for an older-yet-struggling-reader, it doesn't seem like a baby book. I highly recommend this book and I'm going to give my copy to Jordyn. I hope she likes it! If not, I'm sure my mom will :) 

*I won this novel from Goodreads FirstReads. All opinions expressed are my own.



I picked up Mockingbird by Charles J Shields because of my deep, undying love for To Kill a Mockingbird and Harper Lee.  I was sorely disappointed, and I'm sure you will be too.  It basically states all the connections (which I already knew) between Harper Lee and Scout.  Basically To Kill a Mockingbird is like her life. Scout's friend Dil is Harper Lee's friend, and fellow author, Truman Capote. The novel is basically a fictionalization of her life.  Even the Radleys were based on a real family, which I didn't know, so that part was interesting, but it dragged on for ever and ever! There was a nice bit about how Lee worked with Capote on In Cold Blood, which I also didn't know about, but again, my! Shields drags on! 

Another issue I had with Mockingbird was that Shields didn't have Lee's input or permission or approval or anything to write about her life! The novel had no new information from Shields; it was more like a thesis paper with too much research.  It was long and boring and I felt like there was no point to reading, and there is certainly no point in me recommending this novel to you! 



Read my post on To Kill a Mockinbird here: http://jaymesbookreviews.blogspot.com/2012/09/to-kill-mockingbird.html

Nesting: Baby Bib

I finally finished my second cross-stitch project! Here it is! 


Monday, January 14, 2013


This past weekend, Cass and I were able to take the St George Swallow cousins and go up to Flowell to hear Grandma Carma and Caleb, a Flowell cousin, give their mission reports. We went up on Saturday so that we could have more time to spend with the family and had a great time! The cousins built a massive snowman while I visited with Grandma and we got dinner ready. We all had dinner together and then watched The Avengers. 

I actually ended up not watching the movie, baby makes it hard to get (and stay!) comfortable, so I went and read and move and stretched and fell asleep. :) 

Sunday morning Grandma Carma and Caleb gave their talks at church. They both did a great job & it was great to hear them speak! Afterwards we went to Kelby & MaryAnne's house to eat. There was lots of yummy treats and I ate way too much! After most everyone else left, we played Rook. It was fun. I didn't do to terrible at it! And then we drove home in the freezing cold! 

Friday, January 11, 2013


One of Matthew's books, Savvy by Ingrid Law is a cute idea of a novel for the younger YA reader. It's sort of a fantasy, but not overly so.  it tells the story of Mibs and her siblings as they go on a coming-of-age road trip style adventure to "fix" Mibs's ill father. It's a cute book, but definitely more for the younger reader. It's not quite enough for an adult. I recommend as a read-with-your-child or for a younger YA reader. Read on, friends!

The Leviathan Trilogy: Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath

In Scott Westerfeld's best work, the Leviathan Trilogy featuring Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath,we meet some great characters and go on an exciting adventure through alterna-history's WWI with both an Allied and an Axis perspective. The trilogy has elements of both steampunk and fantasy as well as threading in truths and actual people from history (Westerfeld includes an afterward correcting some of his alterna-history).  It was a lively exciting read that I highly recommend to any reader. I give it five stars. Westerfeld, you hit your mark with these works. Read on, my friends.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Virgin Earth

Virgin Earth, the free-standing sequel to Earthly Joys by Philippa Gregory, tells the story of John's son, John. The two men have never seen eye-to-eye, especially in the turmoil of England, but they have been able to make it work because they need to, because they are both gardeners for the king. And so John the younger goes to Virginia (remember, this is pre-United States of America. This is early Jamestown days) to collect new plants and escape the pain of his wife's death. While there, he falls in love with his young Powhatan guide. But the story doesn't end there! John travels back to England, then back to Virginia, and back to England again. Similar to Earthly Joys, yet slightly more enjoyable, there are nice aspects to Virgin Earth. It's neat to learn about the way of the Powhatan and the changes England goes through prior to and during it's civil war. But it has the same problems as Earthly Joys, too. I didn't connect with this John, either. It was like Philippa was trying to cover too much ground and couldn't get into enough depth for me to enjoy it. I'm not sure that I recommend this book, but it really wasn't a terrible read. I just expect more from Ms Gregory and didn't love Virgin Earth. 

Earthly Joys

Well, Philippa, ya win some, you lose some. And you just didn't win me over with Earthy Joys, either time I've read it. The historical backdrop of the switch from the Tudors to the Stuarts was interesting, as was the tulip crash. And sometimes I even liked John (the main character), but I didn't always get why I was reading about him. Nothing was pulling me forward into the story.  it covered almost John's whole life, instead of being a story about X,Y,Z. There wasn't necessarily a conflict, or even a climax to the novel. I couldn't draw this out as a plot line diagram, as they have students do. It was a long, long novel and didn't seem like one unified story. Maybe I just didn't get the love story between John and his "masters" well enough. Maybe I didn't get his love for his plants. So, I don't really recommend this, unless you're like me and determined to read all of Philippa Gregory's books so you can honestly say she's your favorite author (I need to be researched and legit, ya'll. and I have to read everything!!) or a lover of botany. And if you do choose to read it: warning & slight spoiler -- there is one gay sex scene. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Attack the Lusitania!

When I first saw my mom borrow this book from my grandpa, I was really excited to read it. Grandpa likes war books and this looked super exciting and about a topic I didn't know much about. Of course, it took me a while to get to reading Attack the Lusitania! amid the moves and book shuffles and the fact that I always want to read about 500 books, but I finally banned myself from the library and got to reading the books we have at home. 

I really wanted to like this novel. But no. I didn't like it at all. First of all, why even make the characters LDS? Is that a requirement for being published by Covenant? Because the characters being LDS didn't seem to have much of tie-in other than getting some of the characters to talk, but that could have been done in another way. And why were there all these different perspectives? The novel is barely over 200 pages, and I'm supposed to follow three different story-lines, one of which disappears halfway through? It made it so hard to get to know the characters and feel for them. There was no character development and I didn't feel attached to any of them. 

It was interesting to learn more about the Lusitania and the circumstances under which it was attacked, but I learned just as much about the Lusitania from The American Heiress, and I'm going to recommend that book to you instead!

Three More Months!!

Today is January 7th. My estimated due date is April 7th. That's three months away! Three months til I get to see my baby! I'm so excited! I hope these three months go by quickly, and not slowly and painfully . . . I know I'll continue to get more and more uncomfortable, though. But baby is doing well, she moves around a lot and the doctor said everything looked good at my next appointment. I want her to finish cooking, but I want her here soon too! 

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Year in Review: 2012

2012 has been a good year for us Swallows. 

In May, Cassidy took me to Hong Kong where he served his LDS mission. He had a great time; it was a once-in-a-lifetime vacation! In July, my brother Michael got home from his LDS mission in Ohio, and we were able to have the whole family together! A few weeks later I found out I was pregnant, and we're so excited to welcome our little girl in April!

That's been about the jist of our year. Here's hoping 2013 is even better than 2012!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Family Fun: The Whitakers

Friday afternoon we met up with Morrell (who is not a Whitaker, but this happened on the same day!) who wanted to buy us a baby car seat/stroller combo for our Christmas present -- Love it! Thanks Morrell! He's going to be such a good grandpa! Then he took us to lunch at
 Noodles & Co. Pad Thai. Delicious.

Friday was also Chris's birthday, and we wanted to take her out to dinner. She and Carrie were working on remodeling the shower at McCoys, so we spent the afternoon there playing with the kids til dinner time. Dylan met up with us and we had Mexican. Yum! 

On Saturday we went sledding. Pyper had a blast! Though she still said her favorite thing that day was Chick-fil-a . . . 

Covering her eyes, just a little scary! 
awww, good big brother!
by herself, from halfway

On Sunday we went to church with Chris and Pyper and had a family dinner that night: Dylan came, as well as Madi and her boyfriend Colby. On Monday, Chris and Carrie had to work on the shower again, so Cassidy and I took the girls sledding. They had a blast and we wore them out!
Look at that smile!!
Cass got so far! 
Throwing Snowballs
Pyper the Sled Dog
The girls were about to crash, so Cass ran down to stop them.
When he realized they weren't going to crash, he slowed down and then fell!
Kaia & Mae
Rolling down the hill
Cold & Windy!

Family Fun: The Stones

We spent the first few days of our vacation with my parents and siblings. On the day after Christmas, those of us who were around went to see Rise of the Guardians at the discount theater. It was a pretty cute movie and everyone liked it. Turns out Hugh Jackman's in it too! I'm not sure if he used his regular accent or if he exaggerated it, but he was very Australian. I didn't even know it was him til it was over! After the movie, we we went to Two Jack's Pizza for delicious BBQ pizza and cheese sticks. Yummmmmm. . . is it too soon to go back? 

The 27th is Ammon's birthday, and Michael had the day off of work, so Mom got us these passes for a bunch of activities up in Salt Lake. First we went to the Clark Planetarium. They had some cool things to see and then we watched a silly little Christmas movie. 

Ammon, Jordyn, and Michael trying to steal the electricity from each other.
Michael kept winning!
Ammon and Mom watching
The passes included a free lunch at the Lion House. The rolls were really good, especially with the honey butter! After lunch we headed to the Leonardo Museum. It was really neat!

Adam the engineer loves tinkering with wires!
Jenn was less than pleased that I took her photo, though
Dad also found a fun toy to play with.
With which to play. haha
Cassidy likes building things!
It's a rocket!
Matthew joining in on the fun!
Green Screen!
Where'd they go? 
at one with the mountain
Jordyn making a stop-motion film with 3D objects

Cass and I made a stop-motion film too! 

Cassidy doing it Gangnam Style

You stand in front of the computer and it copies your movements!
When Hagrid teaches "Care of Magical Creatures" . . . 
I just thought this looked neat!
After seeing all the exhibits at The Leonardo, we headed back to the Planetarium to see if there were any other neat movies to see. Well, we picked one, but it was kind of boring. Jordyn thought it was amazing; pretty sure the rest of us fell asleep! Then we went to the moon and Mars! It was a super fun day!


Because of our work schedules this year, Cassidy and I drove up north for the holiday on Christmas Eve. It was pretty snowy, but Cass is a good driver and we had no problems! 

Our first stop was in Flowell to visit Grandma Carma. We just dropped in for a quick visit, but it was great to see her. Next we met up with Chris, Nathan, and Pyper at Nathan's parents to see their Christmas Extravaganza display. They have trains and Christmas's villages set up all over. 

Afterwards we headed up to Grandma & Grandpa McCoy's for the family Christmas Eve party, where we worked on a service project. Cass cut fringe on fleece blankets. I helped Pyper make a necklace and bracelet then helped tie a baby quilt. 

Then we went down to my parents' house for Christmas Eve dinner with all my siblings, Grandpa, Uncle Scott, and his kids. And I finally got to meet baby William!! he is so squishy and adorable!! 

Awww! Tiny squishy baby! 
me & Cass in front of the tree

We spent the night at my parents's house. A very excited Jordyn woke us up at seven; I think that's a new late for my family! 

Jordyn loves Alpine, the boo-eyed reindeer I got her
After presents, we had breakfast. Mom made some great cinnamon rolls. I just love cinnamon rolls! Then we played Ticket to Ride. I got Dad the 1912 expansion and it was fun to play with the new routes. 

Later that afternoon, Cass and I headed up to Salt Lake to meet up with Morrell and Dylan. We saw Les Miserables. While I was mostly impressed, there were definitely things I liked better in the USF production. The movie was much more emotional and less power ballad than I like. It was also harder to connect with the characters. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway were great, but stage is very different from screen. And Amanda Seyfried drove me nuts. Her voice was great, but I really didn't like her vibrato. It was excessive. As far as her role as Cosette . . . well, I don't like the character of Cosette, but Amanda Seyfried nailed the character. Overall, I thought it was a good production. Not the absolute best it could be, but certainly enjoyable. 

Cass and I had a great Christmas & I hope you did too!