Feeling pretty smart!

I was just checking out my cousin Aimee's blog, and she had posted her blog's reading level, so I thought I'd try it out. cash advance

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I'm feeling pretty good about it! even though it seems to randomly assign... oh well!

Writer's Block

When I'm not sitting in front of my computer, I think of all sorts of things to blog about, but when I sit down to actually do it, my mind is blank. Alright, now they're coming back.

My grandma made this Santa suit, and I'm pretty sure that we have a picture of my dad, my uncles and my brothers all wearing it. I tried, but Rico's a little too big. It looks like Santa needs to lose some weight.

I was going to give Rico a bath last night, and Ella decided that she wanted in, too. This is the second time that they have taken a bath together, and last time Rico was too young to realize what was going on. He thought it was a blast! He is the splashiest bather ever! I kid you not. Ella freaks out if she gets water in her eyes. I don't think Rico even noticed. When he takes a bath, I have to keep the curtain closed, unless I want to mop afterward.


Book Review: Uglies Trilogy

As you may have noticed, I've been into reading books in three-somes recently. This is purely by default, I assure you, I do enjoy a good stand alone book as well.

The Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld was very enjoyable. They take place several hundred years after the demise of our civilization, in a world where at the age of sixteen everyone undergoes major cosmetic surgery and is transformed from an Ugly to a Pretty.

Tally Youngblood is an excellent main character who seems human enough to make the story plausible. Without giving too much away, the trilogy follows her fight to just be herself. I found myself mad at her at the end of the second book, but was pleased with the ending of the third.

There is a fourth book, but I believe that it takes place in the same world, but with different characters.


Fun Weekend

With our two families so close together, we try to split the holidays. Sometimes it works better than others. We went up to my parents on Wednesday and spent the afternoon doing all sorts of fun things. While Tom was taking a nap, my Mom and Ella made this house. I'm not sure whether to call it a haunted house, a thanksgiving house or a gingerbread house. Ella informed me that the cones out front are Christmas trees. Either way, it was fun. I think she ate more than actually ended up on the house, but I think that's the point. :)

Thanksgiving itself was successful. My parents made two HUGE turkeys, and ended up with a full one to spare, so we got to take home some yummy leftovers. I finally made pie from that pumpkin, and it was great! After dinner we went to my in-laws', where they were just getting started on their meal. I didn't eat anything, but Tom had like three more platefuls. I'm not sure where he stores it!

I have plenty to be grateful for at this, and every, time of year. Right now, I am feeling grateful for loving family and friends, and the gospel. I don't think life gets much better than this!


Book III: The Amber Spyglass

Because of the way that God was depicted in this series and particularly in this book, it seemed like a battle between good and evil, but this Authority, or god figure, was the evil side. Because Pullman's depiction of God was so far from my religious feelings, it was hard to associate the God depicted as Heavenly Father. Instead it seemed like the stereotypical evil in any fantasy book: a dark power determined to control and ruin the lives and happiness of the characters. And although I would probably prefer that he had called the enemy something other than God, his calling it that did not ruin my faith.

I would tend to call this series Young Adult as opposed to Children's literature. In addition to the religious aspect, there were other thematic elements and discussions that I would be more comfortable with a high schooler reading than an elementary student.

Overall, I enjoyed the books and do not feel more evil or anti- church or God for having read them


A Vacuum and the Promised Land

It's hard to vacuum when Rico's awake, and not because he's afraid of it, but because he chases me down. He LOVES the vacuum! Tom was vacuuming tonight, and he finally fully appreciates how hard it is with Rico trying to catch you.

Speaking of being caught, Rico likes to investigate things, and frequently finds himself in sticky situations:

 The other night for FHE, Tom did a little lesson about the Nephites traveling to the Promised Land. He put two blankets on the floor, one as Jerusalem and the other America, and had Ella sail her animals from one to the other. This is now her new favorite game. Mufasa is Lehi, Simba is Nephi, and my favorite: Ariel is Sariah.

Book II: The Subtle Knife

Snopes was right. It does get much more anti-God and anti-the Church in the second book. I would not reccommend this book to young children for multiple reasons, though it is compelling reading and I quite enjoyed it.

After successfully bridging between multiple worlds, Lord Asriel (the one with the black magick name) sets about to make war on God, or the Authority. Though it is breifly mentioned that this man has never been at ease with the Church doctrines, ("sacraments, and atonement, and redemption, and suchlike") others who join with him seem to be against what has been done by the Church in the name of God (intercision, which is essentially separating the souls of children from their bodies, thus killing many; male and female castration (mentioned very breifly) of children; and similar horrible things) "That is what the Church does, and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling."

Therefore, they are determined to start again the war in heaven that Satan lost, and win.

That alone would be cause for concern to parents. But the God that Pullman describes is not a God that I know. If he indeed authorized and endorsed the actions of the Church, he is not a God that I would worship. Instead of turning me against God however, it made me remember how lucky I am to know about the true nature of God, that He is our Heavenly Father who loves us and wants us to be happy. He does not want to "obliterate every good feeling" but wants us to be free of the vices of the world so that we can enjoy true happiness.

Instead of making me despise the Church, it reemphasized for me the need for the restoration, so that we could truly understand the nature of God. It made me realize how much others are missing, and want to shout the truth from the rooftops.

I could see easily though, how one who does not have a testimony of the nature of God and their relationship with him could be swayed if they took the fantasy and tried to apply it in their life.


Twin Day and the Golden Compass

After I got Ella and Rico dressed yesterday, I realized they were looking pretty twin-y, so I wore a blue shirt and khakies (how do you spell that?) too (not pictured.) It was fun times.

I read the book "The Golden Compass" and its sequels (the trilogy is known as "His Dark Materials") pretty much forever ago (propably back in 96-00 when they first came out) and remembered enjoying them, but not much more about it. I know Grant loved them too, he's the one who got me to read them. I was at the movie theater recently (which is a shock, because I never see movies) and saw a preview for "The Golden Compass." Needless to say, I was quite excited, especially when I realized that it came out the day after Grant was getting home from his mission.

Then my mom got an email forwarded to her about how the books were evil and parents should not let their children see the movie, or read the books. The author is this atheist who is trying to kill God and demonize our children. He even uses names and words associated with black magick (I wouldn't know, I'm not familiar with black magick.) "The movie has been sanitized of much of its virulent hatred toward Christians and the church which is VERY clear in the book series. The danger is that parents will see the movie as fairly harmless and will then get the kids the books, which are so spiritually poisonous and God-hating as to make Harry Potter look like a Sunday School series. "

I was shocked, because I don't remember anything of the sort, but then again, I didn't remember much of the plot either, so maybe I was just forgetting. Naturally, I disregarded the advice of the email, and decided to read them again, and here is my take on the atheism (having reread only the first book thus far):

The story is a fantasy set in a universe similar to ours, that is parallel or co-existing with our own. It makes mention of the Church (though it doesn't specify, it seems to be the Catholic Church) and how it is corrupted and does things that would be against right and good, and things like that. I suppose if it had attacked the Mormon church, I might be singing a different tune, but this wasn't even the Catholic Church as we know it, but an imagined entity quite different than the Catholic Church. God himself is barely mentioned, except taking His name in vain a couple of times, and all religion is this abstract discussion about Dust and elementary particles, and parallel universes. Besides, I tend to think that the Catholic Church is corrupted anyway, so we agree on that part.

In short, I did not feel a spirit of evil surrounding the book, my faith was not shaken, and I would even go so far as to say that some scenes from Harry Potter were definitely more evil. :) Because the book is a fantasy (there are talking bears, for crying out loud, and witches, and cities is the sky) I have a hard time taking it seriously enough for it to affect my religious feelings. I would not recommend it to a second grader but I would to a sixth grader, and would probably want to discuss it with my children, but I would want to do that with almost any book they read.

So, from my opinion, go see the movie, read the book, and enjoy. Just don't take if for truth. But that goes for most fiction books.

After writing the above, I checked out Snopes.com to see what they had to say, and while they agree that Philip Pullman is a hardcore atheist, they mention that the first book is also the least offensive, it gets worse as it goes along. I'll post an update after the next two books.



I'm one of the really cool people who still have dialup. I know, you probably thought that ended with the Jurassic Period, but no, some of us are still using it. And because of that, I haven't bothered trying to post pictures. But I thought that I'd give it shot.

This one I owe to all of you good moms out there posting pictures of your kids doing fun kid things. I didn't dress my kids up for Halloween, I haven't been to the children's museum, and we don't go for walks everyday, but I did make orange pumpkin shaped sugar cookies. So I'm not completely lame.

Rico, enjoying his dinner.

Ella enjoying my boots. This is seriously one of her favorite things, to put on my (or Tom's) shoes and walk around the house. I think it's adorable most of the time. Except right after I vacuumed.

So that didn't take nearly as long as I expected. Expect more pictures (as soon as I get around to taking them!)


Current Obsession

Since I am always ready for bed before Tom, I usually end up doing something to amuse myself while he finishes getting ready. I started playing solitaire (with real cards) but by the time I got all set up, he would be done. Then I would have to clean up my mess, and it wasn't worth it. So, instead, I 've been playing hand solitaire. It's really quite amusing and requires absolutely no skill, though I should warn you, winning is rare.

How to play:
Hold a deck of cards facedown in your left hand. Flip the back card to the front face up. Repeat until you have four cards facing you, fanned out so you can see all four. Look at the two outer cards (the first and fourth). If they are the same suit, remove the two middle cards and discard them. If the outer cards are the same number, discard all four cards. If they are neither the same suit or number, slide the second card to cover the first and flip over a new fourth card and start again. After removing cards, remember to look at the last four cards before flipping over a new one. Once all the cards are facing up, the game is over. The goal is to end up with as few cards as possible.

I have won a few times, but then I am usually humbled by ending up with half of the deck still in my hand.

This reminds me of those assignments in elementary school when you have to write directions to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Did anyone else have to do that? It's so much easier to demonstrate than explain. Hopefully my directions made sense, but forgive me if they didn't.


Pumpkin, pumpkin, everywhere!

I bought a pumpkin for Halloween, but we didn't get around to carving it. So I've had this huge pumpkin sitting around my house for the last week and half. Today I decided to do something about it. I've never made pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin before, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I didn't quite know what I was getting myself into.

Right now I have pumpkin all over my kitchen. I was steaming it, but of course the water boiled out before I noticed, and now I have pumpkin goosh burned to the bottom of my stockpot. I have pumpkin chunks waiting to be steamed, steamed pumpkin chunks in the sink cooling down so I can peel and blend them. I have a blender with pumpkin all over--inside and out. I've kept it mostly off the floor, but of course, I still end up with it stuck to the bottom of my feet. I 'm going to have quite a lot of pumpkin when I'm done. Does anyone have any recipes? I could sure use them!

In other news: Ella has a little play dish set that had four cups, all of different colors. I stepped on the green one a few weeks ago and it broke. I threw it out. Today she came into the kitchen where I was working on extracting all the pumpkin seeds from the guts, and asked where the green cup was. When I told her it was all gone, she about burst into tears. Sad!



Sometimes it's nice to take a step back and see things how they really are. Unfortunately that can only happen when we are reminded of how they're not. A couple examples from my life today:

Ella is not a quiet girl, but neither is she excessively loud. Today, Averie and Dallin came over and I was reminded how quiet Ella usually is. Thank you, Ella, for using your inside voice!

Ella does not voluntarily pick up her toys, but neither does she throw them haphazardly around the room for no apparent reason. Between the three of them, every toy was out of it's place, and randomly all over the room. Thank you, Ella, for being so relatively neat and tidy!

Rico is usually fairly safe of the floor. Ella likes to love him a little too much sometimes, and occasionally takes his toys, but all in all, she is rather nice. Averie and Dallin, not so much. Not that they were trying to hurt him, they just aren't used to someone that small. Thank you, Ella, for being so gentle!

I do like Dallin and Averie, don't get me wrong. But it's also nice to have the reminder of how nice and clean and quiet Ella usually is!