Thursday, February 21, 2013

Judging the Past

I love reading historical fiction. You know that. However, some of my favorite historical figures are, well, not exactly the best people. But one thing I always think about is how we can't compare the morals and actions of our predecessors to our morals and standards. For example, look at Henry VIII. He was a terrible womanizer and executed how many people? But look at his surroundings.  His father had only secured the throne a few years back as a result of the cousins' war.  If Henry VIII couldn't provide an heir, the country would be thrown into turmoil once more.  This is not to excuse his actions, but merely to put them into context and give them some perspective. No doubt he shouldn't have cheated, or killed, any of his wives, but were women valued then? Were men, especially the nobility, expected to be faithful? No!! That was part of their power, part of showing the court who was in charge.  One didn't necessarily lose respect by having a mistress then as one loses it now. Think former President Clinton and Newt Gingrich. Henry, on the other hand, was a beloved king. Men wanted to be him and women wanted to be with him.  He wasn't judged then as harshly as he would be by committing the same actions now, because they didn't have the same standards during his reign. It's impossible to judge him, or any other historical figure, by today's standards. We have to look at the whole picture or it's simply unfair. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

time to come out of the closet . . .

. . . and please don't judge me! 

So back when Ashley was still pregnant with Eva, she started talking about cloth diapers. And Cass and I started thinking about them.  And a few months back, Cass presented me with this article by [yeah, it's probably his favorite website]. He was convinced that they would be a money saver. And so I agreed to try them, with the caveat that if it doesn't work for us, for me, I can quit it, no guilt. [If they're in good condition, they can resale for pretty close to original price, so we wouldn't be out a lot of money.]

The savings are the biggest reasoning for us.  Especially since it wouldn't surprise me if baby girl is stubborn [gee, where could she get that from?] and refuses to potty train. I also think the diapers are super adorable and I just love buying cute things, so that's another reason. And I like to try to save the planet when possible and feasible  so if cloth diapering works for us and saves the planet? Even better. 

So I started doing my research.  I was immediately drawn to the Flip Diapering System. 

They grow with your child, so no need to worry about finding the right size.  they come with snaps or hook and loop [basically velcro] so my one-day toddler can't unsnap and run around naked. Or she might anyway. Who knows. But I digress. . . 

The Flips are also in two parts, a cover and an insert. So no stuffing, as with the pockets, and no long drying time, as with the All-in-Ones. Plus you can reuse the cover throughout the day, unless it gets stinky, so you need less covers, which is also a money saver. We even got some on eBay, so half of ours are new and half are used. They seem perfect, on paper, so now we'll just have to wait til baby girl gets here and find out! 

The Other Boleyn Girl

Just as Katherine of Aragon is my least favorite of Henry VIII's wives, Anne Boleyn is my favorite. This is largely due to Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl, which not only tells the story of Anne Boleyn, but also her sister, Mary, one of Henry VIII's many mistresses, and their brother George. 

I really enjoy The Other Boleyn Girl because it's not only an intense faux love story and affair, but it delves into the family relationships of the Boleyn siblings AND it's historical fiction where one learns about the politics and religion, and their relationship, during this portion of Henry VIII's reign. [holy run-on sentence!] Now, of course, given the subject matter and the character of Henry, who is constantly having affairs, it's not necessarily the most chaste book, but it is my favorite by Gregory and I highly recommend it!  

Pinterest Success!

Lately, I have been trying to make new things for dinner. I get bored of what I always make & I had a lot of recipes on my "Recipes to Try" board on pinterest that I just hadn't tried yet. And every time I asked Cassidy what he wanted for dinner, he said he was good with anything. So I finally made him pick some things from my pinterest that looked good and today we ate Slow Cooker Apricot Chicken from

Guys! It was soooo good! I used chicken tenders instead of breasts, so I just kind of made up the number of how many I put in. 8 tenders equals 6 breasts, right? And instead of pre-mixing the sauce, I just layered in on the chicken. Nor did I cook on high for one hour and then put it on low. I just cooked it on low the whole time. And ya know what? It was great. We loved it. I think next time I'll add more Apricot Preserves or brown sugar; the primary taste was more onion-y and we wouldn't have identified it as "Apricot Chicken" without the recipe title, but it was tasty! Both Cass and I liked it and it's definitely a repeat dinner! It was easy and yummy. We'll be making this again sometime! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

So here I am, 10:30 at night, sitting alone on my couch watching Pretty Little Liars, texting my husband. But it's okay, we had our Valentine's date yesterday, you know, before and after his work :)  You see, this morning I drove Cass to the Cedar airport so he could be flown out to the U. He's been accepted into their Masters of Education program and they flew him out to get a tour of Salt Lake and for interviews for an assistantship. It's super nice that they flew him out, all the way to SLC!! So last night we went to Ninja for dinner. We had a super yummy shrimp sushi roll with a sweet chili sauce and then I had the beef yakisoba. It was delicious. Like, so freaking good!! Also, I got Cass the cutest Buzz and Woody card, since we're best friends. It was a pretty good make-shift Valentine's day. Hope you all had a great one too! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Constant Princess

My first Philippa Gregory book ever was The Constant Princess, the tale of Catherine of Aragon before she married Henry VIII. It tells of Catherine as Catalina, the Infanta of Spain, only to become Catherine upon her marriage to Arthur, Prince of Wales. Arthur, Henry's older brother who was to become king. Arthur, the prince who became sickly and died too soon. 

Catherine of Aragon is my least favorite of Henry VIII's wives [yes, I have them ranked. ish. Don't judge.], or at least bottom two. It's like a feel bad for her, but I don't feel her the way I feel some of the others. I don't believe this is due to Gregory's writing, but just Catherine herself. 

The Constant Princess does introduce us to a new side of Catherine, a younger Catherine. She is a desperate widow, heartbroken by Arthur's death, abandoned by her father, abandoned by England. And so, she must take her fate into her own hands: she must fight for what she wants, she must fight to become the Queen of England, as she was meant to be.  

If you're interested in Henry VIII, Historical Fiction, or Philippa Gregory at all, this book is worth the read. You'll like it. 

Time of My Life

If you could go back in time and change your life, would you? Allison Winn Scotch's Time of My Life poses that very question. Jillian, an unhappy housewife, is transported seven years into the past, before she's even met her husband, by her masseuse unlocking her chi. Knowing what she does, can she change her future? Can she? And what other aspects of life will her new choices impact? And most importantly: If she makes new choices and changes her life, will she finally be happy? 

Time of My Life is an interesting, enjoyable novel that really makes you think about your own life and your own choices. Overall, I liked it and recommend it with the caveat that there is some sex and language. If that doesn't bother you, give it a go! 


Highlight it to read. :) 

I really hated the ending; she gets everything she wants without working for it! Unfair! Unrealistic, even for this kind of a novel!! 

Lady Macbeth's Daughter

Lisa Klein's Lady Macbeth's Daughter, is, obviously, about Lady Macbeth's daughter, of Klein's own creation, and her side of the story of Macbeth. It brings a new aspect to a familiar story while keeping it at a high YA reading level. It's a great book for the YA reader who loves historical fiction, Shakespeare, Macbeth, and Scotland, or anyone who just wants to hear a different side to Macbeth. I can't say it's my favorite book, but I enjoyed reading it and I bet you will too. 


I first read Edward Bloor's Tangerine many years back.  Probably about when it first came out in 1997. I feel like I liked it then, and I liked it again this time around. Paul is our main character and the new kid at school.  He's also been having strange memories and questioning why, in fat, h needs glasses and his eyes are so ad, since he doesn't remember looking directly at the sun as he's been told happened.  But that's not all to the story. Paul's brother, Erik, is a jerk of a football star and their dad is pushing him to be the next big thing, even at his new school.  Likewise, Paul is expected  as always, to sacrifice for the brother's football dream.  But Paul has his own port and his own dream: Soccer. 

Tangerine is a great YA novel and I would especially recommend it to kids who feel different, as well as those who don't always enjoy reading, but might be convinced to give it a go if the book is about soccer. It's a good, enjoyable read. Read on!  

When You Don't Have a Sewing Machine

So last week at Jordyn's baptism, I realized I had a problem. The stretch material of my dress was stretching down too low in front. I figured if I shortened up the shoulder straps, then I wouldn't have to be pulling up my dress all the time. However, I don't actually own a sewing machine or really know all that much about sewing, but I figured I'd give it a shot.  I used the back stitch that I learned from my cross-stitching adventures earlier this year. I think it worked out pretty well! I wore the dress to church yesterday and didn't have to pull it up once! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Far World: Water Keep & Land Keep













A few years back, Jenn's friend's (who has since become a friend of mine as well) dad got published. Jenn read the book, but you know how I always mean to read a book and never do. And then Jenn said the book wasn't really my type anyway. Well, fast forward to the last time I tole some of Matthew's books and J. Scott Savage's Far World: Water Keep and Land Keep ended up in my pile. And last week, I finally read them. 

We have to main characters, orphaned and crippled Marcus from Earth and Kyja from Far World, who is also orphaned and has her own disability, as far as Far World is concerned. Marcus has been transported to Far World and as he and Kyja learn of their origins, they also learn that it is now their responsibility to save Far World. 

I really enjoyed this adventure.  I'm bummed it's a series with on the first two out (okay, I think the 3rd is out now? Or at least almost . . . ). Well, regardless, it's a cute book with likable,  relate-able characters and an exciting adventure in a magical world.  I highly recommend giving this series a go! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The House on Mango Street

I first got The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros for Ammon because it was required reading for his ninth grade English class. And I have no clue why.  It does not surpass the quality of any of the novels I read in ninth grade, and not nearly close enough to replace them! It's no To Kill A Mockingbird or The Chosen. Not by a long shot. 

Mango Street is told in short spurts by Esperanza, a girl who never really gives us her age or any information abut herself except that she wants  real home.  She does, however, tell us little snip-its about her neighbors in spurts of one or two ages.  It made it really hard to get into the book.  The reader barely knows the characters so one can't connect to them and there's no real story arc.  I'm unclear as to why Cisneros would write this or what story she is trying to tell.  I didn't enjoy this. I don't recommend it. And I certainly can't see a ninth grader enjoying or  learning from it. 


Alice Hoffman's Incantation tells the tale of undercover Jews in Spain during the 1500s.  Our main character, Estrella, doesn't even realize her family is Jewish.  She finally puts the pieces together and sees the danger her family is in.  They have been practicing Judaism but masquerading as good Catholics for years. When they are found out . . . well, it won't be good. At one point, Estrella thinks, "Still, I coudln't help but wonder if it was a mistake for people like us to be tied to a place. If we weren't meant to wander.  If everything we needed was tied up in who we were."  Later, she asks her grandfather a similar question.  He answers, "You run once, what makes you think you won't have to run all the rest of your life?" But if you don't run, will there be a "rest of your life"? 
Incantation is a great historical fiction for the young adult reader.  It delves into history, telling a tale we don't come across too often.  I recommend this novel to all YA Historical Fiction fans. Read on! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Of Birthdays, Baptisms, and Baby Blessings

This past week was a busy one for our family! Jordyn turned 8 on Monday and was baptized on Saturday. She was so cute and was going to stay in her baptism dress and carry her new scriptures around all day if we let her! Jenn had her birthday on Sunday (am I allowed to say how old she is??) and it was William's baby blessing, so we had lots of family time! We had a great time seeing everyone and can't wait til it's their turn to come down here! 

Me and Jordyn after her baptism


Jenn was all set to blow out her AND Jordyn's candles!

Narnia and the Bible

I recently read The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis and could not help but agree with those who slate it as a children's bible with obvious allusions to biblical stories and morals as well as Christ himself.

In the first novel, The Magician's Nephew, Polly and Digory watch Aslan sing Narnia into existence.  The world was empty: Aslan brought it to life.  He sang the plants and animals out of the ground.  He gave Narnia a king and queen in Frank and Helen; who would be the two humans to have dominion over the Narnians. They would rule and care for them. But Aslan also created a tree, even a guarded tree. A tree near which the evil Jadis plays the role of the serpent to seduce Digory into eating. The Magician's Nephew retells the creation and the fall from Genesis. Aslan is clearly Christ, or God, in making his Earth, Jadis acts as Satan, and Frank and Helen play the roles of Adam and Eve set to take care of their creatures while Digory doubles as an Eve considering his relationship with the tree.

In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, we again see Aslan as a Christ figure.  He has been gone from Narnia; Jadis, as the White Witch, reigns all of Narnia. Stories are told of Aslan, but no one has seen him.  Some still have hope, some do not. Then the Pevensie children arrive, seemingly to fulfill a prophesy.  At any rate, Jadis does not want them there to interfere.

Aslan appears, finally, to those who believe in him and willingly gives his life in Edmund's place.  He goes quite like a lamb to the slaughter and meekly allows himself to be shaved and beaten before he is killed. Lucy and Susan, ever faithful and representing Mary and Mary Magdalene, go to mourn Aslan's body and find, instead, that he is very much alive.  Different from Christ, Aslan does not take three days, but is risen almost immediately to return and lead his troops to success.  His good finally defeats Jadis's evil.

But all too soon Aslan must leave again.  he crowns the four Pevensie children, making Peter High King. He sets up Narnia for his departure, just as Christ prepared his disciples.  Peter is said to represent the biblical Peter upon whom Christ builds his church and Catholics believe to be the first Pope.   Lewis is presenting us here with, if not clearly an allegory of Christ's life, death, and resurrection, than at least a parable with morals taught to the reader.

The Horse and His Boy takes place in Narnia's golden age, under the rule of High King Peter.  There is not so much of a tie-in to a biblical tale in this work, so much as a moral or parable taught. Aslan appears, not as himself, throughout the novel, and then presents himself as himself to the children Shasta and Avaris. he reveals that he was all of the lions they met along their journey, acting to protect them all along.  This reminded me of the footprints poem or Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief. Just because we don't think it's the Lord; it doesn't mean it's not.  

Prince Caspian also gives us a parable.  Lucy believes she is seeing Aslan, but everyone thinks she is being silly and childish, so she doesn't not follow him.  Once Lu does follow him, she can finally see and speak with him.  The others follow and eventually can see him too. Lucy is later chastised by Aslan, and learns that she should have followed him regardless.  Likewise, we should follow Christ even if those around us will not, even if it is difficult, because it's the right thing to do.  By acting on faith, we will be rewarded.

There's also a quote that I really liked, where a Narnian is confused about calling on the Old kings, the Pevensies, or calling on Aslan.  his question is answered with, "If you mean Aslan, it's all one calling on him and on the kings.  They were his servants." They would act, hopefully, as Aslan would.  The Pevensies  here are similar to Christ's prophets.  They will only act in his interest.

Aslan also restores Caspian to his rightful throne. He is set up as king to care for the Narnians. This could read, depending on one's religious preferences, of the restoration of the true church after corruption. 

I found The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Silver Chair to be the least allegorical of the series. The best I can come up with is the characters' struggle for light over dark and searching for the spiritual life and Aslan's land, especially Reepicheep, in Voyage. In Silver Chair my link to scriptures and spirituality would be that the spirituality and stories of Alsan are dying in the land. The world is becoming a darker place as it is being set up for the end of Narnia. 
The Last Battle is the Narnian Revelations and consequent end of the world. At this point, the reader is already familiar with the main characters, and no time is wasted with getting straight to the point and conclusion of Narnia. A false Aslan, or an anti-Christ, is introduced, and because it has been so long since Aslan has visited or anyone has spoken of him, the Narnians to not realize that he is asking things of them that the real Aslan never would. Shift, an old ape, presents himself as the new Aslan's keeper and voice piece. He doesn't let the people see Aslan and doesn't let him speak. Shift is the one with the power and is the real representation of the Anti-Christ.

Shift begins to collaborate with the Calormenes and is slowly selling Narnians as slaves to them. Some Narnians are catching on to Shift's falseness, others still yearn to see Aslan for themselves and hang onto Shift's every world. With the appearance of Jill and Eustace, and then other Friends of Narnia, the world begins to fall apart. There is a final judgement and few are chosen to join the Friends of Narnia in Aslan's paradisaical country.

Strangely, Emeth, a Calormene soldier and worshiper of Tash, a false God, is admitted to Aslan's Land. Emeth is confused, but greeted warmly by Aslan. Because Emeth did good in Tash's name, he was truly doing good for Aslan. Aslan tells him: "I take to me the service which thou hast done to Tash . . . if any man swear by him and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he knew it not, and it is I who reward him." There is some controversy regarding Emeth's "admission to heaven," as it were, but I prefer to take the side that Jesus, like Aslan, will not punish good people simply for doing good things in someone else's name, especially if they have never heard of them.

Despite Lewis's protestations of Narnia being allegorical, an argument is easy to make that they are. So it comes down to the question of intent: If Lewis did not intend them to be allegorical, can they be? Or does his intent have no impact on the reader, who may or may not see them as allegorical? What do you think?