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Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Soap Box!

I feel the need to rant and rave a little bit. I have this issue, and it is what I used to tell my students is my Soap Box Issue--meaning that it is one of the few things I would preach to them about. The topic at hand is all about how we treat people. Perhaps all those years of reading the Golden Rule poster actually rubbed off on me, so thank you, Mom. I am beginning to ramble, so let me get to the point.
As part of my new responsibilities at church, I am working a little bit with the Young Women. We all know that being a teenage person today is challenging enough, so why is it that they have to make it harder for one another? The ways in which we treat one another, simply just as fellow members of the human race is so important. People are mean and hateful and hurtful to one another, and there is absolutely no reason for it. None! Where does the responsibility fall to teach this simple idea to the next generation? Why are they not getting it? Why does it bother me so much? How am I going to instill the love of everyone into my own children when the world continually tears one another down?
At the end of my Senior year in High School, I had an unusual expereince. In AP English one day, a girl who not many people liked or were nice to pulled me aside before class one day. She had a gift bag in her hands, and she handed me the bag and said, "I just wanted to give you this as a 'thank-you' for being so nice to me when no one else was." I had no idea what to say to that. Honestly, I never remember going out of my way to be nice to this girl. I just remember that the lesson of that Golden Rule forever cemented into my heart and head that day. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Where is that in our world?
I am not perfect in this. I stick my foot in my mouth more often than not. Everyone knows that I can't hide my emotions. I don't like every person on the planet. I don't think we are meant to. Other people are part of the big test of life. It is how we deal with others that counts. It is how we treat them when we are angry. It is how we treat them when we are hurt and upset. It is how we treat them when we have hurt and upset them. Our attitude towards others is important.
I am not saying that anyone should roll over and take a beating from someone who doesn't understand how to treat people. We have a right to stick for ourselves, to be leaders, to tell others that it is not okay to treat me in such and such a way. It is okay to be an authority figure and expect that others will treat you with the respect demanded by your station. It is not okay to treat others badly because of that station or position, however. Some of the best leaders live the Golden Rule very well. So, share it. Spread it. Remind your friends, neighbors, children, students, strangers that the Golden Rule still exists. That it still applies. That it can work miracles in someone's day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Miss This...

I am feeling a little sentimental and homesick today, so I thought I would post about all the wonderful people and things I love and miss back home. I am hoping that this visual journey will remind me of all the wonderful things I have from the past and present...then maybe I will not be so...pensive? sad? melancholy? Let's see.

In no particular order...

I am not sure if I used this picture because I miss my parents or because I miss school. I do love school and learning, but I miss my mom and dad a lot. I was looking at pictures from Holly's graduation last week, and I love how much my dad smiles in pictures when we are in cap and gown. I think he might be proud of us. My mom just radiates happiness all the time, but I love pictures of her laughing. I am blessed by some truly wonderful parents.

Here they are. Amber and Kristie. These two are responsible for my having some of the best times I have ever had! There are lots and lots of memories associated with one, or both, of them. Our lives are so very different now and we are so very far apart. However, I would not be the person I am today without them, and I miss them both like crazy! I think about them both everyday.

I seriously love everything about this picture, but it represents the mountains. I love them, and I miss them. How could you not with a view like that? I used to think that I didn't take for granted the views I was so blessed to have everyday. I thought that I appreciated enough the gloriousness that is Colorado. Now, I am not so sure that I did. I think a person has to miss something to fully appreciate what it is that they loved about a place to begin with. I miss hiking. I miss the view. You have to search for a view here, and while I am learning to find them, I miss the ease with which I could admire the handiwork of our Creator.

I miss these people. I have some amazing grandparents, and I hate that growing up has meant that I am farther away from them. They are pretty incredible.

I think that the Konopka's are amazing people. They have just been on my mind a lot lately, and I miss being able to hang out for dinner, or dance all night. I am pretty lucky that they are still a part of my life after all these years! Thanks, guys, for being awesome friends!

There is nothing to say here except, I miss you! I love you! I wish I was there to help you with all the changes going on right now, and I swear...I am going to call you tonight! XOXO

I just can't wait to come home and see all the changes that have happened in your life! The new place! We need a dinner night. I certainly miss having those nights with you. You are incredible, Jen!

Sometimes when your life doesn't take the direction you expect and you are thrown into the unknown, there are people who turn out to be the BEST thing that could have ever happened to you. When I went to work at PVHS, these people turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. Now that even more changes are happening in their world, I have reflected a lot on how lucky we all were to have become friends.

While this appears to just be a really cute picture of me, it is actually a picture I took while setting up my classroom last year. I miss it. I miss teaching. I miss having a classroom. I miss having students. I miss the paycheck too, but being a teacher is awesome and challenging and hard!

Yep, I even miss summer camp...not because I miss working all summer long, but I miss the people I worked with. We had some crazy summers, and I certainly miss the staff dinners. :-)

Finally, I miss every single one of these people every day of my life! Sometimes I feel like beth does in Little Women. She never wanted to see things change or for her sisters to grow up and move on and away. I don't feel that way exactly. My siblings are happy and their lives are interesting and exciting and fun. I miss them because I can't see them everyday. That is the hard part. We are still as close as ever, and I know that this is something that will not change. My family rocks!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book #16

Motor Mouth
By: Janet Evanovich

Normally I sing Ms. Evanovich praises, but I didn't love this book like I have loved her others. The Barnaby novels feel too much like Barney is the NASCAR version of Stephanie Plum, and while the story is fast paced and easy to read, I didn't feel a huge urge to finish and read like I usually do when I read her books. This hasn't turned me off from reading any more of Evanovich's novels. I love her! I just could have done without this one.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Book #15

The Great Gatsby
By: F. Scott Fitzgerald

I LOVE GATSBY! Counting all the times I have read this out loud to my classes and read it on my own, I have read this book over 30 times. I love it! The book is a love story, a party story, a betrayal story, a murder story, a heartbreak story, a hate story, a self-made man story...all wrapped up into one relatively short novel. What more could one ask for? Fitzgerald creates the perfect scene--the Valley of Ashes is depressing enough to be forgettable, but don't forget it! It houses one of the most important events! New York is modern enough and trendy enough to be romantic enough where anything can happen. And, anything does! One can't forget the contrast of old and new money in East and West Egg, and the quiet cottage of our narrator, Nick Carraway, who quietly observes the goings-on of the rest of characters, and shares his thoughts and observations with us all.
I can only imagine what Fitzgerald must have been feeling as he wrote this book. How must he have felt when he discovered that his love, his "Daisy", had been unfaithful to him? How he must have felt as he soul searched between the good guy and the desperate guy he seemed to view himself to be.
If you haven't read it. Just read it! Then call me and we can talk about it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book #14

Born in Shame
By: Nora Roberts

Here is my confession: I am a hopeful romantic, and I was intrigued a few years ago when Texas Mom gave me a Nora Roberts book to read. It was the first of the "Born In" books, Born in Fire. There are three, and I read the first two after she gave them to me, so when I stumbled across this one in the library the other day, I snatched it up. I figured I owed it to Nora to finished her trilogy. I liked it just as much as I liked the other two. Each story is about a different sister in a mixed up and sad little family. Don't worry, they all find love and there is always a happy ending. This is probably why I like them so much. That, and the setting is gorgeous! The stories primarily take place in Ireland, and Roberts does an amazing job at describing the setting in such a way as to paint a magical picture for her readers. Since I have never been anywhere, I count on that in the authors I read. If you are worried that there is too much sex in these books, don't. There is sex, but not too much. There is a real story, I promise!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Easter Weekend and New Furniture

We have been busy, busy! There are lots of changes that have been happening in our house, and we got to celebrate the Easter holiday with our Texas Family.

We spent Saturday morning hiking. We went to Eagle Mountain Park at Eagle Mountain Lake and hiked almost two miles. The weather was perfect! I have never really expereinced a REAL Spring. We are having Spring here, and I do love that. Things are green and hope floats on the air!

I put together some killer Easter baskets! I love Easter candy, so I might have gone a little overboard, but does it really matter? Nope! Nick and I have a sort of tradition, and we buy each other new movies for Easter gifts. He got me Disney's Alice in Wonderland and I got him Sherlock Holmes. We even dyed Easter eggs, and I made them into deviled eggs for our Easter celebration on Sunday.

Easter Sunday, Nick and I watched the morning session of General Conference and then went to spend the afternoon with our Texas Family. Cindy had lots of people join her with kids, so we hid eggs and played games. It was a lot of fun, and once again, we are so thankful to have a Texas Family!

Easter weekend we also did a little shopping, and we were able to find a new kitchen table and a new KING bed for a really great deal! The kitchen table is the pub height that I love so much, and while it still only fits four people with no leaf, it is SO much better than what we had before! There is more room, and I just like to look at it! It is pretty.

Here is the picture of our new bed and bedding. It doesn't really do it justice here, so everyone needs to come visit and see for themselves! I have gradually been sleeping better and better on it! My body took a few nights to adjust, and now I am sleeping better than I ever have here!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book #13

Sense and Sensibility
By: Jane Austen

My second Austen book this year. I do love this story. The characters sometimes remind me of my own family, and I can always relate to the strong relatioships of sisters. Really, there is nothing to say but, "Sigh!" Colonel Brandon in all his noble turmoil; Marrianne in her silliness and then her broken heart. Ugh! I SO know what it feels like to wait for someone you expect to hear from with high hopes. I know what it means to make excuses and look everywhere for answers. It hurt to read.
I found myself frustrated with Elinor and Edward. He's a pansy! She's...I don't know what she is!
I do enjoy a story where everyone gets what they deserve, although, I would have liked to see Willoughby get his toes stomped on by his horse.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Book #12

The Sea Of Monsters
By: Rick Riordan

So, book #12 is book #2 in the Percy Jackson series. The Fates did not want me to read this book for the longest time! I looked for it at the library--checked out. I looked at Walmart--every book was available EXCEPT this one. I looked at Barnes and Noble--same situation as Walmart. I felt the frustration setting in and stopped looking for awhile. One of the students in the class I subbed for this past week was reading it yesterday. I couldn't believe it, and went on a little tangent about how I couldn't find it anywhere. He asked if I was a fast reader, and when I replied in the affirmative, he handed me the copy he was reading and pulled a second copy out of his bag! So, I read it yesterday for a little bit, and I finished it this morning. I loved this book because it visits one of my favorite stories, Odysseus and Polyphemus. Plus, the new character we are introduced to in Tyson, Percy's Cyclops brother, is wonderful. I loved the message and the feelings that Tyson inspired in Percy, and consequently, in me. It is a short read, but a wonderful one! Yeah for Percy Jackson!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Book #11

By: Edna Ferber

A book about Texas., Adam, I am not taking a Texas History class. Kelli gave me this book. She had to read it for one of her classes. She told me that she wanted to know if the opinions and attitudes that are so stereotypically Texas are protrayed accurately in this story. Well, yes...yes they are. There is an arrogance that Texans have about this state that I really do not understand. The mantra, "Everything is bigger in Texas" rings through loud and clear in the attitudes and close-mindedness of the characters in this novel. And, Kelli, I think that is what drives me batty about this place the most. According to the people who have lived here forever, there is no better place. In this story, Texas, okay, a big ranch in Texas, consumes and destroys so many beautiful things and people and realtionships. There is something just not right about how everyone is treated.

The story: Leslie Lynnton, of the Virginia Lynntons, is the daughter of Dr. Horace Lynnton and the middle of three sisters who are pursued by many a suitor. Jordan "Bick" Benedict is from Texas and his family owns The Reata Ranch. He has come to the Lynnton home on business--to buy a horse. He leaves with much more than a horse, as Leslie decides that she will marry him and become a Texas wife. She joins him in Texas where she learns the hard way many of the Texas customs and expectations for their women. Her place is decided for her the minute she agrees to marry Bick--whom she always calls Jordan. She fights against it in her own ways and allows it to run her life in others. The ranch is Jordan's life, and they must balance family and tradition with work and tradition.

Kelli and I had a rather rousing text message converstion about it which I have decided to include here. Ah-hem!

J: What theme did you get from it?
K: Change. Bick is so afraid of it with oil and Leslie, while Leslie is theh complete opposite and understands that it's necessary. Basically, I wrote a paper on it.
J: I see tha, but the one that jumped out at me was racism.
K: That too, but that fits into Leslie's changing world.
J: Kind of, but you can argue that she changes to fit Bick's world.
K: That was part of my arguement. She understands that it is necessary whether good or bad.
J: Necessary to keep peace in her marriage?
K: Yes, and because it's like she is in a whole new world and has to learn the customs.
J: That's crap. Why is it always the woman who has to change? Why can't there be a compromise? Why can't Bick meet her in the middle?
K: He does in ways! It is just more dificult for him because he's not used to change while Leslie is.
J: He only does because Luz is dead. He agrees to move into the Main House. That's it. Otherwise I always see him trying to hold her down and tame her.
K: But look at the end, where he finally sees her as the rebellious woman he married and he falls in love all over again. It's like he plays that part because he feels he has to.
J: You mean after she calls him Bick?
K: Yes.
J: Hmm. He only does out of the fear of losing her.
K: Their true love is there even through their differences and arguements.
J: They love each other, that much is obvious.
K: So ultimately that is what keeps them working thoguth their differences and why Leslie changes to this new lifestyle.
J: Yet, by making the choice to marry him, she kind of left with no choice.
K: Exactly, someting that she understands, but Bick does not fully. It takes him awhile.
J: I don't think he ever really gets it.
K: Not fully, no, but he has his moments.

I am still upset that she gave up so much of herself and who she wanted to be in order to conform. I guess we all do it though, don't we?