Thursday, March 21, 2019

Book Club is more than that

I often can't believe our book club has been going strong for over 3 years now! When Tiffany from my ward invited me to come to a book club at Courtney's house, I never imagined that 3 years later this book club would still be meeting, that it would be a huge source of enjoyment and personal satisfaction for me, and especially  that I would meet and become friends with some of the greatest people I know, all through a monthly book club! 

It's  definitely not the same book club that it was 3 years ago (Tiffany and Courtney are long gone) as It's gone through several transformations through the years.  The first big change is that we no longer meet at each other's homes. We used to take turns each week hosting book club at a different member's home, complete with providing snacks and preparing book club questions for the group. However, one night we spontaneously decided to meet at the Starbucks inside the deli at the local grocery store and realized we loved it! They not only have a lounge with comfy chairs but now nobody feels obligated to clean their houses, or keep their kids quiet, or provide snacks that would meet everyone's dietary needs! At the deli you just show up, buy some food if you want it, and relax on a chair to discuss books! Plus we even have the bonus of people-watching. haha.

The second change is that we don't advertise through our ward anymore. When I was in the Relief Society presidency I made it a point to invite any and every sister in the ward to come join us for book club! I advertised it on the ward Facebook page, made fliers to hand out, and called it a Relief Society Book Club for sisters that loved to read. We had several sisters show up until several months into it when someone complain that we were reading inappropriate books that wouldn't be appropriate for a church-sponsored book club. I admit there was some swearing in one and maybe some sexual descriptions in another book we read, but other than that I couldn't recall very many inappropriate things. However,  I also respectfully understand that everyone has different levels of sensitivity when it comes to things of the spirit. Some people are negatively affected by swearing, others by sexuality, and others by violence, even in the mildest forms. So, to respect the sensitivity of others and not ruffle any feathers at church we stopped advertising at church. But no worries! We still have a great group of (slightly irreverent sisters) from the ward who come plus some amazing ladies from the community. And we are always welcoming more!

Another change we made is we stopped ordering books from the Utah Book Buzz program every month. For the first 6 months we loved Book Buzz! Using the Book Buzz was a cheap and easy way to get lots of books at a time for our book club, but the drawbacks were 1.) That they started charging $3 per book and 2.) It was kinda stressful for me every month to pick up the books from the library, collect the money from everyone, and then collect all the books back from everyone and then turn all the books back in at the library (yes, I put myself in charge of this because nobody else wanted to.) And 3.) It was often hard to choose titles from the Book Buzz list because we couldn't tell what the book even was until we clicked on the link, which was a long and arduous process trying to choose one book with 10-12 other women. Often we'd end up choosing a book that "sounded good" only to find out when it arrived that it was a long, boring, 850 page novel that nobody wanted to read or a memoir on old-fashioned recipes from the 1950's.....
Now we just expect everyone to get the book on their own, whether they check it out from the library, get it on Audible, order a copy from betterworldbooks, or whatever. It's working out fine. I always get mine from the library's free. 

The last change to book club is that it's not just a book club anymore. It's evolved into a wonderful group of friends who are eager to meet up every month for talking, laughing, catching up on each other's lives, and of course, discussing our love of books!
I'm so glad I started attending a book club. Sometimes it's hard to put yourself out there to do new things. I remember being so nervous at the first meetup in 2014 because I'd never been to a book club and I didn't know if I would have anything meaningful to contribute. I mean, I loved to read, but other than writing papers for English class, I'd never discussed my reading materials with anyone else! But, as it tuns out, you can say absolutely ANYTHING at book clubs. You can discuss your favorite quotes, praise your favorite characters, describe your favorite scenes, dig deep or not dig at all, or you can complain about how it didn't meet your expectations at all and you hated every bit of it! All opinions are welcomed at book club. 

There's a really funny episode of Malcolm in the middle where the mother, Lois, starts attending a book club with some of the other ladies in her neighborhood. At the first meeting she shows up excited to discuss the assigned book, all ready to delve into her intellectual side while getting a nice break from her four boys at home, only to discover that the other moms had different intentions. It turned out that "book club" was an escape for frustrated housewives to get drunk, unwind, and act unruly without their husbands and children around. Ha! To Lois's surprise (and somewhat relief) nobody even opened the book!
Sometimes I think about that as I head to book club. Although we don't drink at our meetups and I wouldn't call any of my friends frustrated housewives, book club is a nice way to unwind, get recharged, and act a little unruly for a change!
Chocolate Lasagna I made for my friend's birthday at book club!  
Here's the list of books we've read up til today: 
1.The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
2. The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews
3. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Klein
4. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
6. Unbroken by Lauren HIllenbrand
7. Dealing With Dragons #1 by Patricia C. Wrede
8. Words by Heart by Ouida Sebestyen
9.  Wonder by R.J Palacio
10. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
11. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
12. These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner
13. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
14. Let Us Eat Cake by Sharon Boorstin
15. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
16. Doing No Harm by Carla Kelly
17. The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera
18. Agenda 21 by Glenn Beck
19. Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli
20. The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews
21. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
22. Immortal Nicholas by Glenn Beck
23. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
24. Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
25. Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
26. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
27. Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts
28. Does my Head look big in this? Randa Abdah-Fattah
30. The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter
31. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
32. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
33. Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo
34. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
35. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
36. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
37. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by Jon Boyne
39. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
40. Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
41. Educated by Tara Westover
42. The Broken Road by Paul Richard Evans
43. The Forgotten Road by Richard Paul Evans
44. Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
45. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Henry Ford
46. Not If I save you First by Ally Carter
47. The Orphan Keeper by Camron Wright

There's definitely been some good ones and some bad ones! The best two books I've read this year were Educated (thanks Dad!) and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. The worst two were Uncommon Type (Tom Hanks please stick to acting) and Love and Luck (I just don't love teen-dramas) My favorite genres of books to read are historical fiction. My least favorite genres of books to read are boring non-fiction. :)

I highly recommend finding a book club and joining it! You never know what you'll find!
Happy reading to one and all!

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Latest in Russian Dance Crazes

Is anybody else going stir-CRAZY!!? Its been snowing here for 2 days straight and I'm getting a little nutty. 😜 Hoping for some sunshine and sledding tomorrow to get outta the house and stop the MADNESS! 
But hey-on the bright side I've been practicing the SKIBIDI. 

I LOVE the internet for so many reasons and this is one of them:

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Monster Feet

We discovered a really fun park last week! Sometimes I forget that just 45 minutes south of here there is a 20-30 degree temperature difference and all I have to do is drive to get there! I was feeling pretty tired of the snow and cold last week so I packed up my 3 littlest boys and took them to this new, fun park in Washington, UT (Z didn't want to come so stayed home to do his paper route). It was fabulous! Not only was it sunny and warm--and I'm laughing here because it was 37 degrees F instead of 15 F, so HUGE difference--but it had all these fun amenities and we weren't shivering cold the entire time! There was a duck and fishing pond, sidewalks for scootering, large fields for playing soccer, a playground for climbing, and a walking trail that led down to the Virgin river. 
It was hard to decide what to do first but we found ourselves down at the fishing pond where the boys rode their scooters in circles and fed the ducks some bread. 
Odin tried his hand at fishing with his fancy fishing pole but it kept getting tangled and stuck and both of us started getting really frustrated. We finally decided to forego fishing and play soccer instead! 
We played all around that big park for about an hour and half until I reminded the kids that I still wanted to go check out the trail down to the river! However, my suggestion was met with all kinds of  whining and  refusals and arguments that they were done playing and ready to go!
"No you aren't!" I said back. "We're checking out that river if it's the last thing we do! And it's the last thing we're doing so start walking!"

A typical theme with some of my children as of lately is to refuse to want to do things that I KNOW they like and will have fun at. I don't quite understand this part of parenting?? For starters I know my children pretty darn well so when I plan fun activities for them to do I KNOW they'll have fun. yet, when I tell them what we're doing, they complain! What is this madness?? So then I make them do said activities anyways when suddenly they are having the most fun of their lives laughing and playing and totally enjoying the activity they first said they would refuse to do! Does this make any sense at all? No it doesn't, but this is parenting in all it's crazy unpredictability.

So next up I forced my unfortunate and miserable children to scooter down this beautiful river trail until we found a quiet opening to the riverbed. And there we spent the next hour laughing and playing and having the most fun ever doing something that they love! 
Because they LOVE playing next to rivers in the dirt and mud and rocks and I know this, because I am their mother. 

How to make Monster Hands and Feet:

 Make a big pile of Cattail fluff, get your hands n' feet nice and muddy, then stomp in the fluff til your hands n'feet look like furry and adorable monster limbs. 

I had a great time down there with my little monsters! These are my favorite moments of motherhood-just hanging out doing nonsense things with these adorable and furry little boys of mine--even when I have to force em! 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

I miss writing

I miss writing. I think about it everyday: all the stories I'm going to write, the book I should be working on, the writing I've done in the past, and all the missed opportunities each day that should've been spent writing! I can see why hopeful writers drop everything to spend all their time writing because it's one of those things that is intensely satisfying for what it is. You don't need a huge crowd of people to tell you your writing is awesome, and you don't need a successful, published book to feel incredible because writing makes you feel that way anyways. It's the act of writing that brings all of your versatile, undiscriminating, and raw emotions to the surface, which truly makes you FEEL alive. 

I feel alive when I am writing. I am a writer in my mind. 

But yet, I am also so many other things besides a writer. 
I'm a busy mom raising 4 boys, wife to Micah, a home manager, a college student, a cook, a chauffeur, a cub scout leader, a friend, neighbor, a ward member, an athlete, a nature explorer, and a reader. There are so many things taking up my time and energy in life that writing takes a back seat. 
I love my life and all the things I get to do, but I wish there was more time for writing. 
Fluffy fern stuff from the creek.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

December so far, 2018

Every morning I have to sit in front of my "Happy Light", which brings extra daylight indoors by emitting a bright, full spectrum light that mimics natural sunlight. This helps prevent my Winter depression, of which I get real bad this time of year. I should have started it weeks ago when the time changed and the days got shorter, but here I am, starting today! Hopefully because I'm forced to sit here for the good of my health, I'll also get some blogging done. :) Win=Win. 
Here's the latest!
-Started homeschooling Jonah at the beginning of the month! Such a happier kid now. He really needed a break from school and some quality time with his mom and little brother. Not sure how long we'll homeschool into the future, but we'll definitely finish the third grade doing more of this:

Our ward Christmas party was fun! We have the best ward full of the most down-to-earth and Christ-like folks you'll ever meet. I have learned so much from so many of them, which have left such a positive impact in my life. So grateful for ward families and for the opportunities we have to love and serve others around us. 

The Nay family had a super awesome Christmas party at their house. We all went except for Z who had DnD at his friend's house. Below we are playing a White Elephant gift exchange. Mally loved the game so much that he came home and made Popsicle stick gifts for the entire family so we could exchange them in our very own White Elephant game. 
I made Frosty the Cheese Ball. He was delicious! 

A fun, family tradition we have is attending the Frontier Homestead Museum Christmas celebration. The museum is right around the corner from our house and such a fun time. They do crafts for the kids, old-frontier-style games, hand out hot cocoa and candy-cane flavored popcorn and light up the grounds for a nice night-walking experience. Santa sits in the old pioneer home and gives out candy canes to kids who sit on his lap and tell him their wishes. Mally wished for a Massage chair like Grandad and Grandma Sandy's, a stuffed animal, and a candy cane.  He got two candy canes!

Every Sunday after church we go find somewhere in nature to unload ALL THE WIGGLES, otherwise we'd be stuck in the house all day with 4 crazy children with too much pent-up energy. Several weeks ago before the snow we found this strip of frozen Creek located up a little gulch near the "C trail" that kept everyone entertained!

And of course, me fighting of the winter/seasonal depression is a constant, which results from lack of sunlight in winter. There's been many times where I've tried sitting and crying through church and I've found that it doesn't help me when I'm deep in a depression, so one Sunday morning I took my sadness to the mountains to be alone with myself and my Heavenly Father. It was just what I needed. So grateful to my husband for taking our boys to church so I could feel better. So Grateful to God for beauty, healing, light, and hope, which always finds its way through my tears.

Here's Odin doing some Holiday baking! He made some fudge with nuts for our family to enjoy. We had big plans to make treats this week and bring them to all our neighbors and friends, but I came down with the Norovirus (a terrible gastrointestinal flu). I don't think we should share the holiday diarrhea so maybe we'll postpone and make New Years treats. 

We got our Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving. We drove up the canyon, pulled over at a dirt road, and found our tree within 20 feet of the road. Easy peasy! I don't always love this tree-cutting tradition because of how cold it is up in the mountains but it wasn't too bad this time and we got a beautiful tree. Having a fresh-cut pine tree in our living room is worth it! Thanks to Micah for always leading the way on this tradition. 

Well, my happy light time is over and so is this blogging session. Til next time!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

Some photos from Thanksgiving.  So happy my Dad came to visit, feast, and celebrate T-day with us!

Monday, October 29, 2018


One of my favorite new podcasts I've been listening to just had it's 1st birthday! 
Happy birthday #3in30podcast ! I really loved Rachel Nielson from when I used to read (and sometimes write for) #powerofmoms . And now I get to listen to her in her very own awesome and inspiring podcast that uplifts and encourages mothers!
We've been challenged to leave 3 takeaways for moms (with a photo of ourselves holding up 3 fingers) 
of things that we've learned over the years as a mother that we can now share with other mothers. Here's #my3in30 . Nothing too profound- just a few things that I've found helpful as a mom! 

1️⃣If the house is crazy messy, the kids are loud, and you feel overwhelmed beyond reason, just sit on the floor. That's right! Just sit down in the middle of the living room floor and breathe, relax, and let your little ones climb and love all over you. This seems to work every.single.time.
I simply sit on the floor and then suddenly nothing seems as chaotic. My 4 kids are happy to come and sit by me and talk to me, or we end up playing a game. Everything feels better when I just sit down. 

2️⃣Forget the high chair! Feed your toddler their meals in the bathtub! Best thing I ever did with my 4 boys. It seriously cuts down on cleaning up the constant food messes on and around the kitchen table and floors! Just fill up the bathtub with warm water, stick your cute little kid inside of it, and feed them breakfast or lunch or dinner or whatever meal it happens to be. A quick wipe of the tub at the end with a paper towel is all you need to clean up and..... for some reason my kids were always exceptionally clean! 😁

3️⃣Keep a notebook of all the hilarious things your kids say. I don't feel I have time to sit down and write novel journals so I just keep a notepad next to my bed and at the end of the day I write down all the cute or funny things that my kids said. We've been rolling on the floor laughing over some of the things my older boys used to say when they were preschoolers. It's never too late to start, and you'll thank yourself later on when they're all grown up and have left the house. These little tidbits are some of my happiest memories of being a mother so far.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Disneyland 2018

These were two of the most fun, most tiring, most exhilarating, most magical, most amazing, most exhausting, most fun days of Disneyland ever! We loved going for Mickey's-not-so-scary-Halloween party. We got to dress up, trick or treat, and see so many fun costumes! Plus all the rides and food and entertainment and walking and music and parades and lights and most AMAZING fireworks show!! I'm officially burnt out. You can find me rolled up in a ball on my bedroom floor, for the next 3 days, smiling from ear to ear, of course.. 

Steps to Detoxing from a Disney vacation: Step one: isolate yourself in nature away from all crowds of people. Step 2: sit on a rock and talk to only yourself or animals. Step 3: Drink buttloads of water to re hydrate from all that walking you did. Step 4: Dream of all the tasty junk food you ate but resist the urge to recreate it all at home. Step 5: Stop pretending the car is actually a ride in Fantasyland while you drive your kids to school. Step 6: Cry a little (or a lot) because its over and you don't know when you're going back.