Monday, November 9, 2009


Have any of you read "Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli? My daughter and I just finished reading it. She is at a great age to read it with (11), I think. Older would be good too. But especially right now as she is on the verge of growing up. I liked it. We have been having an ongoing discussion about it all day long.

What else have you all been reading lately?

*I've been reading up on the birds and the bees - and about how to talk to children about it. Fun stuff. I don't mind talking to the kids about it. I just hate the nasty stuff that the world exposes them to. But I guess that they can't all stay innocent forever.
*I've been poring over crockpot cookbooks and trying new recipes. Who has time to cook dinner anymore? A week ago I was lucky enough to have several nights in a row where I didn't have to cook dinner!! It was amazing how much more I got done on those days when I didn't have to stop all my projects at 4pm to think about dinner. So I'm trying to use my crockpot more to help with time issues.
*I've also been reading some fun books like the 4th of Shannon Hale's Bayern series and some other young adult books. It's definitely my most favorite genre right now.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Very Interesting

Julia raises some points that I have thought a lot about. So here are my thoughts--for whatever they're worth.

First, I don't think I was ready to leave home and go to BYU when I did. I don't know if you remember Ju, but I was so incredibly homesick I almost didn't come back for the second semester. Now, I would have been homesick a year later, but I think the extra year at home would have made a big difference. However, I think my initial plan of going to BYU with my parents close by so I could go home all the time was a good one. They just happened to move to NoDak randomly.

As for the rest of my family, Megan and Lindsay and Derek did a lot of early college stuff but they lived at home while they did it and that was fine. The academics aren't the problem--the being out on your own is the problem. With my own children, I'm going to counsel them to push themselves academically (without making it the only thing they are doing) which may or may not include early college classes (but I'm sort of leaning that way myself for them), but I will VEHEMENTLY oppose them moving out before they've hit 18, or even 19. I think the extra years in the bosom of the family is helpful. I realize that Kayli left home a year early and didn't find it nearly as overwhelming as I did but I think that is mainly because Kami went with her and to a much lesser degree that I was also there. And, she might have just matured a little faster than me. Who knows all the reasons she did so well that first year (falling in love with Brett might have something to do with it . . . but I don't really think so . . I think her doing so well allowed her to fall in love with Brett).

Anyway, ramblings about my own family aside--I do think that pushing kids out of the nest too early is a form of negative "hurrying."

However, ACADEMICALLY I think most of our youth are ready for a lot more challenging curriculum at every level except elementary. I don't mean more homework. You all know that I don't believe in homework. Eight hours at school is PLENTY. But, the coursework offered at school is in general not very challenging. That's where our students flounder and fail to get the educations they need.

My philosophy is that you demand, from the very beginning, that students do their absolute best work all the time, and then have them spend less time than is currently in vogue doing the work. So, higher standards of achievement without more time. I haven't finished the book so I don't know what the author says about that, but as a teacher, I found that my students met all the expectations I set for them within the class time allotted and their grades and test scores reflected the amount of work they had done without ever giving any homework. I don't believe in busy work. So if I have a sixteen year old who can write well enough that she doesn't need high school college prep writing and instead can excel in an actual college writing course--I'll be encouraging her in that direction. That way, she'll learn to navigate the demands of college while living in the security of our home, and she can still attend high school for other classes and participate in all the high school extracurriculur options. In short--she'd be reaching academic goals without being hurried and without spending too much time studying. I'm all about being well-rounded while still excelling while still allowing time to just veg a little. I think, with my new frame of mind that encompasses combining home school/high school/early college options--that isn't an unrealistic goal.

There you have it. I would love to hear what the rest of you have to say on the matter.

PS As for clothes, I have long been lamenting the trend in clothing to dress kids older than they are. I think, despite the cost, that Miriam is going to be a Lands End child from now on for that very reason. Because she is so tall--she's into those terrible tweenie clothes already and I can't stand them. She's six for heaven's sake--she doesn't need to be showcasing her body like a . . . well, like a you know what.

Moms & The Hurried Child

Maybe I need to go back and read it again . . . get a refresher course.  I think what I didn't like most about the book, as Andrea pointed out, was the repetativeness.  But, again as Andrea said (I think), you can't hit some mothers on the head enough before they "get it"!  :-)  Unlike what Kelly was saying, for me I think the joys of motherhood are harder to find as the kids get older.  I really love my little ones!  Love them!  But it's not that I don't love my older kids, it's just that as they get older I start to overthink their education (i.e. what they aren't doing perfectly as well as their buddies) and my parenting weaknesses start to shine through  as I watch their actions.  Thus, I'm stressed worrying about their lack of rather than focussing on the joys of!  This is all while forgetting that they are still children!!!  10 is still young!!  Anyway, these are my not so intelligent musings on the subject (it's late, long day!).

I've had a couple of interesting discussions about hurrying children lately and had a quick question:  What about college courses rather than high school (you know those programs where you can go to a jr. college to get high school and college credits simultaneously)?  Do these then hurry our youth to become adults too early?  Andrea, you and several sibling graduated high school early.  What do you think?  I'm mixed on this one because I think we are adults for the rest of our lives, and yet I want my children to excel higher than what high schools expect currently.  So, what are all of your thoughts on that?

It is interesting, now that I've read the book, to watch what little kids wear and how they act.  I was giggling the other day because many little girls I saw the other day had on what J likes to call "hooker boots" (you know, those knee-high leather boots?).  I'm sorry if you own a pair (I actually do, I just haven't had the guts to wear them yet), it's just J's humor.  Anyway, it's funny to me how kids really do dress like mini-adults.  Another family here was saying how she bought all of her girls little travel-size deodorants so they can pretent to be big.  They wear it every day, even the six year old.  I think things like deodorant, jewelry and make-up are signs of growing up I guess.  These girls all three have their own cell-phones, too. 

Now, pointing the finger at myself, one thing I think we need work on is allowing children to make childlike mistakes.  I think we have placed some high behavioral expectations that sometimes just aren't realistic for young children (i.e. spilling your milk at the table for the hundredth time that week . . . causes a bit of tension in our home!).  Now, we have gotten much more relaxed with things like that through the years, but I think our reactions to childlike behavior can also cause some hurrying to grow up.  What are all your thoughts on that? 

Kelly, I think I must have skimmed or skipped the chapter on testing  . . . I don't remember what it said . . . give me some hints!  :-)

Okay, I need my bed.  Before I sign off, though I wanted to say I am loving the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and would love to add it to the list!!

Secondly, next time I'm about to read the Rats of NIMH will someone please inform me it's about animal testing.  I'm finding it quite disturbing actually. 

Thank you and good night!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dr. Schlessinger on Moms

I guess I agree with you, Andrea! Throughout the entire first chapter I kept thinking to myself, "I don't need to read this book". But by the end I was glad that I had read it. It made me feel much better about myself and more motivated to continue on. Timing, definitely, is everything.

One of the things that changed most for me after reading this book is that I'm finding so much more joy in my toddler. I think, cute as she is, I was starting to see her as something to be gotten out of the way so we could go on with our really important and/or fun stuff. Oddly enough, as I spend more time with my little girl, I'm seeing a reduction in her grumpiness. She really was just crying out for attention. Poor, neglected little tyke. :-)

One thing we know from the Gospel is the importance of revisiting the fundamentals - and that's just what this book does. It covers the fundamental joy and importance of motherhood.


I'm about half way through "The Hurried Child". So far I've found it fairly right-on. In fact, it addresses and supports one of my main reasons for choosing to homeschool: I wanted to be able to keep my children unhurried. I've seen some interesting effects of that recently. We have a family in our ward with children of similar ages to my children. These kids were adopted 1.5 years ago (they are a family of 4 kids). Prior to the adoption they bounced from mom, to foster care, to mom, to foster care - many times. They are great kids. Their parents are doing a great job with them. There are still some quirks that I think are effects of their history - most noticeable to me is that they don't have any imagination! The kids have all grown up too fast and are trying really hard to be mini adults. I'm sure that is partially a coping mechanism for the rough childhoods they've had. Only the three year old, who has mostly been with his adoptive parents, likes to do pretend play. The six year old seems to really struggle with it (thus, my six year old finds he has more in common with the younger brother). I was just reflecting on these kids and my own and I'm grateful that my kids have had time to spend developing their creativity without worrying about clothes, boys, music, stability, etc.

And that's the end of my little ramble.

Oh! I did want to say, Andrea, that I liked what you said about the correlation between working mothers and hurried children. I hadn't really stopped to think about that. What did you think of the chapter on testing?
Julia, I have noticed the clothing every time I take my girls clothes shopping - especially for shorts. Hannah and I can never find longer shorts for girls her age. This last time I finally decided to try the Juniors department and, lo and behold, we found some bermuda shorts! Finally, length! Hannah just barely fits into the smallest Juniors size now. Little girls' clothes are so indecent sometimes!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dr. Laura

I wasn't expecting much with this book because Julia said she didn't like it as much as Proper Care and Feeding. Sometimes timing is everything with books--and I needed to read this book just now. It's not that I don't have a testimony of motherhood or that I don't love what I do most of the time, but sometimes . . . and those "sometimes" were coming more frequently of late. Not because of the children, but because of other things and other people and my being easily offended. This book was a great reminder that motherhood is the thing, not the thing we try to avoid while we do other things.

Positives: I loved how brutal she was to working moms. Hardly anyone will really lay it on the line like Dr. Laura. Yes, there is a huge difference between children who are at home with their mom and those who are not. That's just the way it is and all the sugarcoating in the world won't change it. I was a working mom at one point and it is extremely hard on the mom emotionally as well. I think that's why I buy into the Hurried Child point of view that child competence is an idea created to justify two-income families. Women have to make it okay in their own heads somehow because emotionally it is devastating to leave young children with other people.

Also, I loved all the letters from women who talked about spending time with their children. I needed to be reminded that it doesn't matter what other people think of my house or children or parenting style--it is about me and my children enjoying our time together. Would it be easier to remember that if I didn't live by family? . . . Hmm.

At first I thought the organization was terrible because she makes all the same points in each chapter. However, by the end I liked it. I liked to be reminded over and over of the same main points (yes, moms, you are making a difference by being home, no one can take your place, you miss out if you aren't there, your children need you, your marriage will be better if you stay home) because it was what I needed to hear.

So . . . can't think of any negatives right now. Like I said, I think TIMING played into how much I liked this one.

I'm still working on Hurried Child.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Hurried Child

I just finished The Hurried Child.  It was okay.  There were a few quotes that I really appreciated, but was too lazy to write down.  :-)  This book did make me think of how much playtime I allow my children and it's made me look at some things differently.  For example, the fact that kids and adults wear the same style of clothing!  I've noticed this trend in bathing suits but never really paid attention to the everyday fashion.  Well, at least when I've looked at it I've thought more about how adult women are trying to still dress young, rather than the other perspective of children trying to dress older.  Make sense?  Anyway, I did think that was interesting.  Overall, though, the book was a bit repetative and wordy for me, so I lost enthusiasm for the points the author was trying to make. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My turn to tell

Okay - so first of all I am currently reading 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" (with J. while my son reads 7 Habits of Happy Kids).  Fun!  And I'm reading The Art of Teaching writing by Lucy Calkins.  Loving it!  I wish I'd read it when my oldest was TWO!  I also just finished a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt.  I'm in a non-fiction mood, if you can't tell.  However, I am going to start the 39 Clues series because my son has been telling me all week, "This is the best book ever"!  Gotta find out for myself.  :-)

With that said, Their Finest Hour FINALLY came in at the library, so I'm hoping to start/finish that before it's due again.  :-) I just put Hurried Child on hold at the library and I've already read Stay at Home moms. 

Kelly, I loved The Wheel on the School a lot better than Sixty Fathers.  Maybe it's the timing or order in which they are read?  But I do love that book!

And I am waiting for two books to come in:  the sequel to The Hunger Games!  Agh!!  I can't wait!  And the sequel to The Red Necklace  by Sally Gardner.  Again, can't wait!!! 

Has anyone read the Golden Compass?  It's been sitting by my bed for awhile, but I just can't get in the mood to read it.

Well, happy reading.

P.S. My son John just started a GoodReads account.  If your kids have emails send 'em to me so he can invite them.  Right now he has no "friends" and I would like him to have more to choose from than just what "Mom" says is cool!  :-)

What I'm Reading

Hello Everyone,

I am not finishing the Colombia book right away because I could only get it on library loan and I didn't finish it fast enough. I'm going to try and get it from Weber State.

In the meantime, for October we're supposed to read I Am the Clay, but I find that uninspiring. INSTEAD, I'll be reading two books. Feel free to read them with me, or not. I'm just switching two months and reading

1) The Hurried Child (because my Dad looked down his nose at me when I said I hadn't read it--apparently it is one of his fav education books)

2) the Praise of Stay At Home moms.

Really, I'm just SO TIRED all the time and Potok takes so much out of you emotionally. I'm just not up for it this month. So, switching Oct and Nov books. If you want to you can read along with me.

PS--I'll also be reading Alexander's biography of Wilford Woodruff, if you want to read that too!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hi Folks!

Are you all still working on the Columbia book?

I've been reading "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers. I've also just finished "Lighting Their Fires" by Rafe Esquith. It was pretty good, but I liked his first book, "Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire" better. Oh! And I read "The Wheel on the School" by Meindert DeJong (who wrote Sixty Fathers). It's on my daughter's reading list for her current history study. Nice children's book - not nearly as intense as Sixty Fathers.

My baby has been sick 2.5 of the last three weeks. First a cold, then a flu virus. Feel sorry for me, please. :-) I have been too tired to stay up late reading.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Become a Movie Critic

Hey Friends!

I just got back from Education Week at BYU and while there I went to an amazing class entitled "Great Cinema for Families." It was so inspiring and made me want to watch movies all the time. :-) Anyway, if you got to you can take an online course on becoming a movie critic and learn what really makes a great movie. There you can also find a list of about 50 movies or so that the "team" on campus has deemed "great movies." Pay in mind that they also publicize for ClearPlay (a movie editing system), so don't be too shocked by some of the movies you might see on there. And one more thing is that you can write movie reviews. I thought this would be a great resource or "class" for older students. I may even have John do some this year, he would love any excuse to watch movies!

So, any GREAT movies you would recommend??? Share!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What we're reading response

I have the Colombia book right now and I'm working on that.

So--for September the Colombia book.

For October, I Am the Clay.

Yes, the list is current and correct.

What Are we Reading?

Hi All!
What are we reading now? Is the current list up to date? I'm ready to have some more discussion/essays going on! :-)


Sunday, August 23, 2009


I'm totally in agreeance with you, Kami, on the 3rd book downfall thing! I have to admit, though, as a youth I did get to #6 of Work and the Glory before feeling "done." :-) hee-hee

HEY! Have you all read "A House of Many Rooms" ?? I just picked it up off my shelf and realized it's about a little Mormon family. I think it's one from the Newberry Award Winning list (maybe one of the honor books??), can't remember. Anyway, it is a very delightful book! :-) I like this better than Little Britches.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The sequel to The Name of the Wind comes out this month!!! SWEET! Ands, will your husband be buying it? I'll pay for media mail if he'll let me read it after him.

Just thought you'd like to know....

A Conspiracy of Kings (The Queen's Thief, Book 4) comes out March 10, 2010. I might have to pre-order my first book ever!!! I can read it while convalescing from childbirth.

Here's the summary:

Sophos, heir to the throne, has never wanted to be a prince, much less a king. He would rather continue his studies than learn swordplay or combat. But Sophos is his uncle’s only heir, so he has no choice—until he is kidnapped. Sold into slavery, set to work building walls on the estate of one of his uncle’s enemies, Sophos could remain anonymous for the rest of his life. But his country would crumble under the mounting conspiracy, and Sophos realizes that he cannot abandon his people. So he fights back. Battling his way out of slavery, battling through the conspirators’ army, Sophos turns to the only person he knows will help him. His friend—Eugenides, former Thief of Eddis and now king of Attolia. An exhilarating companion to Megan Whalen Turner’s lauded The Thief, The Queen of Attolia,andThe King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kingsis an action-packed, heart-stopping adventure. Finally, longtime fans will discover what happened to Sophos while Eugenides was winning his throne and the queen of Attolia’s heart. Old and new fans alike will be left breathless by the battles of sword and wit that the two friends mount against the traitors, in which nothing is what it seems. Sophos, the shy, dreamy scholar, is no longer someone to be disdained or overlooked. He is a force to be reckoned with. He is a king.

Here's hoping the author breaks the three book curse. (I have a theory that all series go downhill after the third book. Well Harry Potter after the 4th.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lipstick Jihad

I tried to recheck out Their Finest Hour and it wasn’t on the shelf, so that’s on hold for a while. I also looked of the call number on the House of Sixty Fathers, but really I felt like something meatier. Lo siento. So I checked out a book that has been on my personal to-read list for quite some time. Lipstick Jihad By Azadeh Moaveni. I dog-eared the whole book (sorry library). It was fascinating look at Iran, Iran’s diaspora, and growing up between two cultures. However, I didn’t relate well with the author and some of her comments I just plainly disagreed with.

First of all to give some background, she was from an upper middle-class family in Iran pre-revolution. To give an idea of what that meant here’s a few examples: all family members male and female were educated abroad, a lot of them did drugs, her aunt spent her weekdays shopping in Europe and the weekends partying in Tehran, swimming in a bikini in the Caspian or skiing. Her aunt also never learned to drive, because why would she? She had a driver. Anyway, her parents had actually moved to California before the revolution even occurred, and divorced shortly after her birth. Her father was anti-Iran and atheist. Her mother was anti-American and tried out a new religion every few years, Buddhism, Hinduism, even Mormonism (the author wrote it that way, like we were the most outlandish religion out there.) She was raised in a community trying to keep it’s Iranian identity while also trying to seem as American as possible—a large part due to the hostage crisis. Most of her extended family also exited Iran shortly after the revolution.

So onto random quotes and my thoughts about them.

“At the University of California, Santa Cruz, indeed in probably most universities in California in 1998, there was nothing more pressing to do than amplify your ethnic identity…And then there was the question of race in the American sense. Was I brown? All the Iranians I knew seemed to consider themselves Europeans with a tan. Was I an immigrant? My family had always insisted we weren’t really immigrants as such, but rather a special tribe who had temporarily been displaced. Iranian women like Khaleh Farzi lived in daily fear of being mistaken for a Mexican—a pedestrian immigrant rather than a tragic émigré…Khaleh Farzi always bullied me into cutting it short, a bob just above my chin. “Swingy and chic, not straggly and long like a Mexican,” she would say.”

This is one attitude that bothers me a lot. Not really about the fact that they felt that way personally, just that any immigrant does this at all. It irritates me to no end. I guess because I have to struggle with it all the time with my own daughter and her constant remarks degrading Mexicans. I want to hit her upside the head, and yell, “Do you realize you’re a Hispanic immigrant too and nobody is going to know the difference between you and a Mexican??!?! Insulting them is only going to hurt yourself!!!” It’s like Leo’s brother that told everyone he was Italian in high school and refused to have any Hispanic friends or acknowledge that he spoke Spanish. So stupid!! I think it shows an absolute lack of self-esteem and is extremely disrespectful to Mexicans. I think it has more to do with asserting your social class rather than race or citizenship.
On a lighter note, just this past Sunday at church, Bro. Puertacarerra was teasing his son that Elena wouldn’t acknowledge him because he was Mexican. It was pretty funny, but only a Mexican could make a joke like that.

One of the irritating arguments she expressed, was when she talked of her teenage years and her fights with her mother. She explained that her mother would often pick values from either the American culture or Iranian culture to extol while the next minute picking to pieces all their faults. Her daughter argued that you can’t pick and chose the parts of a culture you want, it’s all of nothing. I completely disagree. That’s what having values is. Picking the ones you want and then abiding by them no matter what the rest of your culture or another culture is doing. Anyway, the author is very secular and always came across anti-conservative anything.

“Originating from a troubled country, but growing up outside of it, came with many complications…You spent a lot of time watching movies about the place, crying in dark theaters, and feeling sad for your poor country. Most of that time, you were actually feeling sorry for yourself, but since your country was legitimately in serious trouble, you didn’t realize it. And since it was so much easier and romantic to lament a distant place than the day-to-day crappy messes of your own life, it could take a very long time to figure it all out.”

I just like how she summed that all up. As she discovers when she actually goes to Iran, she’s still far more American than Iranian.

“He warned me, in the early weeks of our acquaintance, of the difference between nostalgic and realistic love. If you are a nostalgic lover of Iran, he said, you love your own remembrance of the past, the passions in your own life that are intertwined with Iran. If you love Iran realistically, you do so despite its flaws, because an affection that can’t look its object in the face is a selfish one.”

I found that thought interesting; it made me wonder about my own fierce Canadian loyalties when I was a child. Not that Canada has many flaws, (Hee. Hee.) but simply because of how impassioned I was to defend Canada and proudly declare my heritage when really a summer visit was about all I knew.

“Many of the U.S.-educated Iranians who had returned to Tehran were there because they had been mediocre in the West and preferred to be big fish in a small swamp. “All the exceptional people have left,” said a young Tehrani to me one night at a party. “They’re the ones who’ll never come back.”

This reminded me of the “brain-drain” of Latin America. Colombia had it’s own diaspora in the late nineties (when my husband left). It makes me sad for those countries.

Once back in Tehran as a reporter, the author describes in great detail the ways and in-and-outs of getting around all the rules and regulations in Iran. How young people met socially even though they weren’t allowed to mix with members of the opposite gender. How parents held “secret” parties for their teenagers. She describes how women wearing more and more lipstick and more colorful scarves were changing the openness of the society. How the small bends in the rules constituted immense changes in a way but were never viewed as enough by the people who wanted everything to be changed. This compromised the majority of her book, and it was fascinating to an extent.
However, her views and commentary always seemed one-sided. She only ever told from the point of view from her own class: rich, well educated, often still traveling from Europe to Iran, partying constantly, doing drugs, popping anti-depressants and sleeping pills, and drinking homemade vodka. In the one story she told of a partial friendship with a conservative Muslim girl, she discussed her like she was alien in her full chador dress and eventual marriage which ended her career. She just seemed hypocritical or at least, self-centered. Marriage and children were always talked of in a disparaging tone, the end of a real woman’s self. Religion as well was treated as unimportant and anyone following any devoted Muslim worship as an oddity. (The clerics weren’t considered devoted, only greedy and hypocritical—not that I’m disagreeing with her on that, just that anyone in her normal sphere would have been considered odd).
She also made the argument that Iran’s society was so absurd due to the inequality of men and women and their lack of being able to associate normally. Since the genders were always separated, she claimed this led to a heightened sexuality that was not normal. For example, she was always being asked to have s** from any and every male she came in contact with because they assumed since she was working and not at home she must sleep around too. Or she described some of the teenage parties she went to as a chaperone for her cousin and how once there and mingling in a never before experienced freedom, teenagers had no idea how to act and went from the extreme of veils and required clothing to dressing as they saw on MTV—and acting accordingly. They had no concept of being friends with the opposite gender and no middle-ground in dress.

“When they were finally permitted a few free hours in each other’s company, they scarcely knew what to do, or how to behave. They had never developed a sense of what normal behavior between the sexes looked like; not only were they lacking a template, they found the prospect of normality unsatisfying. Instead, the sought to contrast the oppressive morality outside with amplified decadence behind closed doors…The Islamic Republic does not control me; see it in the layers of makeup I apply on my face, the tightness of my jeans, the wantonness of my s** life, the Ecstasy I drop.”

She also describes the atrocities she witnessed: hearing people tortured, whippings in the street, bullying and harassment constantly from militia groups made up of poor, young men bent on enforcing the morality/dress laws, the widespread corruption, disappeances of activistists, reporters, reformers, ordinary people, and the randomness of it all. That truly was the heart of her book because in the end she realized that most Iranians were so used to it and shrugged it off, they forgot almost that it shouldn’t be happening at all.

“It doesn’t make a difference who takes over,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether Khatami is cloned or granted three more terms, or whatever. It doesn’t matter who comes, because fixing the culture created by the system is now the problem. I used to take such pride, Azi, in my Iranian identity. I don’t see that culture I was proud of anymore, that respect for elders, for children. These are the effects of lawlessness. If you do business and don’t take bribes, you’re considered strange, behaving outside the norms. Being corrupt is normal. The country’s ethical code has gone mad. It’s going to take so much more than politicians to fix that, this culture of lying, deception, and corruption.”

“What I wanted to explain was that we had a moral obligation to care when awful things happened to people around us. That by treating beatings, lashings, or checkpoint arrests as commonplace—ordinary, like going to the ATM—we were becoming dehumanized to the sickness around us. A heightened threshold of suffering was necessary for getting through the day, but mentally, we had to retain some sort of perspective. Of how a functional government should behave. Of what was unacceptable. Otherwise, we would become like those blasé reformists, who would look you in the eye, and say: “Look at how much progress we’ve made…See! I’m wearing short-sleeves…could I have worn short-sleeves ten years ago? No! …What are you whining about human rights for?… Aren’t we better than the Taliban? Than the Saudis?” Yes, there would always be some junked, lost country we would be superior to, but that wasn’t a proper ambition, was it?

And these two quotes are rather unrelated, but here they are anyway.

“As we drove away, I asked Dariush whether it was not a relief that under Khatami, such run-ins happened a couple of times a year, instead of every weekend. He gave me a searching look. “However infrequent, I do not find any consolation in the fact that my fate is determined by the whim of an armed sixteen-year-old.”

“Maman explained that in the Koran, it says that a man can take more than one wife on the condition that he treats them exactly equally. Their quarters must be furnished with equal elegance or simplicity, he must spend an equal number of nights with each. But what about love? I asked. How can he love them equally in his heart? He can’t, she said. The heart doesn’t work that way. And that’s why men should never, ever, have more than one wife. Because the heart is not docile, can’t follow literal instructions, can’t be cordoned off like a garden—this grove for the first wife, this for the second. Sooner of later emotions blossom or wither in place they shouldn’t and the pretense of heart boundaries collapses.”

Oh and it bothered me that she said these yoga class participants in their white oriental-looking outfits looked like Mormon housewives. First of all, supposedly they had checked out Mormons at one point so I think she’d know a little more, because really, in what way is that like Mormon housewives?!? And secondly, she complained the whole book about being subjected to stereotypes and misconceptions and here she does the exact same thing. A bit hypocritical to say the least.

Sorry this was so long--it's all from the lack of writing I've been doing for the last several weeks, and it all came out at once.


Okay, here's my talk (see post before this), although you'd be better off not reading it and just reading the McConkie talk I posted below.

Stake Conference talk: Worship

Elder Bednar, in his talk, “Honorably Hold a Name and a Standing,” discusses the power we have access to through our temple covenants. At one point in his talk he summarizes the thoughts of several temples presidents as follows:

“I have come to understand better the protection available through our temple covenants and what it means to make an acceptable offering of temple worship. There is a difference between church-attending, tithe-paying members who occasionally rush into the temple to go through a session and those members who faithfully and consistently worship in the temple.”

I’ve thought for a long time about what that meant—an “acceptable offering of temple worship.”

In his talk, “Sunday Worship Service,” Elder W. Mack Lawrence defined worship this way: “to reverently show love and allegiance” to the Savior, “to think about him, to honor him, to remember his sacrifice for each of us, and to thank him.”

The first part of that is to be reverent. Many of us have felt the indescribable feeling in the temple and recognized reverence. Hopefully, we bring a feeling of reverence with us when we enter the temple.

President McKay said that “reverence is profound respect mingled with love.” He also said that “[T]he greatest manifestation of spirituality is reverence; indeed, reverence is spirituality.”

Most interestingly, President McKay states that “reverence indicates . . . true faith in deity” and that “inseparable from the acceptance of the existence of God is an attitude of reverence.” Elder McConkie stated: “A knowledge of the truth is essential to true worship. There is no salvation in worshipping a false God.” John 4:24 states: “And they who worship Him, must worship in spirit and truth.”

Therefore, to truly worship in the temple we must know and understand the plan of salvation and, most importantly, know our Savior and believe that He has provided salvation for us. As our knowledge of the gospel grows, and our relationship with our Savior deepens, our ability to worship will increase. Temple attendance helps us increase our understanding of the gospel and helps us grow closer to our Savior. Worshipping in the temple often will help us learn to worship better—more completely and more fully.

The church website states: “Worship not only shows our love for God and commitment to Him, it gives us strength to keep his commandments. Through worship we grow in knowledge and faithfulness. If we place any person or thing above the love of God, we worship that thing or person. This is called idolatry.” That refers back to our definition of worship: to reverently show love and allegiance to our Savior. We show our allegiance by making Christ the center of our lives and avoiding any idolatry. President McConkie said, “To worship the Lord is to put first in our lives the things of his kingdom, to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God, to center our whole hearts upon Christ and that salvation which comes because of him.”

As we enter the temple in an attitude of reverence with a testimony of the Savior, without any competing thoughts or priorities, we will be ready to make “an acceptable offering of temple worship.”

Elder Lawrence’s definition reminds us that to worship we need to think of the Savior. To worship the Savior fully we need to learn how to meditate as defined by President McKay, who said meditation is a “form of private devotion, or spiritual exercise, consisting in deep, continued reflection on some religious theme.” President McKay also said that “meditation is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord.”

Trying to learn the art of meditation while in the temple is leaving it too late. We need to practice meditating each day as we read our scriptures. Then, when we go to the temple, it will be easier for us to keep our minds on the things we’re learning instead of worldly things. We’ll also have an increased ability to discern the spiritual tutelage of the Spirit if it is a feeling with which we are familiar.

Elder Lawrence’s definition of worship includes the injunction to “honor the Savior.” Consider how the word honor is used in 1 Nephi 17:55—“. . . honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land.” I think two words could be easily substituted for “honor” in that passage. First, obey. Obey thy father and thy mother. Second, emulate. Emulate thy father and thy mother. To truly worship we need to honor the Savior by obeying and emulating him.

President McConkie stated: “. . . true and perfect worship consists in following in the steps of the Son of God; it consists in keeping the commandments and obeying the will of the Father to that degree that we advance from grace to grace until we are glorified in Christ as he is in the Father. It is far more than prayer and sermon and song. It is living and doing and obeying. It is emulating the life of the great Exemplar. . . . It is living the whole law of the whole gospel.” We demonstrate a desire and willingness to be obedient by our very presence in the temple. Once we are in the temple, we need to make an acceptable offering of worship by being humble and desiring to become more obedient—to have our understanding of the doctrine increased so we can more fully live it and having our relationship with the Savior deepened so we can become more like Him.

Elder Lawrence pointed out that to truly worship, a person needs to “remember” Christ’s “sacrifice for each of us.” The sacrament prayers remind us of our obligation to always remember the Savior’s sacrifice for us. 3 Nephi 18:7 reads: “And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my spirit to be with you.” Remembering the Atonement and crucifixion is so important that Heavenly Father made it the focus of our only weekly ordinance.

President McKay said, “. . . there is nothing of an extraneous nature so important as remembering our lord and Savior, nothing so worthy of attention as considering the value of the promise we are making.” President McKay was referring to the sacrament but it applies equally well to temple ordinances.

A promise is attached to our remembering the Savior—that we will have the Spirit with us. Certainly we cannot give an acceptable offering of temple worship without the Holy Ghost in attendance. President McKay said, “Let the Holy Ghost, to which we are entitled, lead us into [Christ’s] presence, and may we sense that nearness, and have a prayer in our hearts which he will hear.”

Elder Lawrence concluded his definition of worship by reminding us of the integral part gratitude plays in true worship. Through worship we demonstrate the profound gratitude we have for our Father and our Savior. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reads: “In everything give thanks.” This idea of having a gratitude attitude reminds me of the scripture D&C 59:21, “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things.” The topical guide correlates that scripture to the topic of ingratitude. Surely an acceptable offering of temple worship includes our expressing gratitude to the Lord for everything we have been given—including our Savior’s sacrifice for us.

In summary, we need to attend the temple to worship the Savior and the Father. We do this by entering the temple with an attitude of reverence, with our minds centered on spiritual things and prepared to meditate and learn more about God so we can become more obedient and more like Him. As we participate in temple ordinances we need to pay attention and express our gratitude for and to our Savior.

As Elder Lawrence said, “It should be a time of true worship for the Savior, a time when we desire to be close to him, to convey our love to him, to feel his Spirit. Our attitudes help determine how meaningful” our temple attendance “is for each of us.”

2 Nephi 25:29 states: “The right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy one of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul.”

More random stuff

Julia, I read half the talk and want to get back to it before I write anything. Definitely worth discussing.

I'm currently working on a talk for Stake Conference. No, I have not been assigned a talk in the traditional sense of the word; however, the Presiding Bishopric asked all the members of our stake to prepare a ten minute (adults, 7 min youth, 3 min primary) talk and then all our speakers are going to be called up out of the congregation. Is this happening anywhere else?? Random. My talk is about worshipping in the temple and I'll post it in its entirety later because Kami asked me to but for now--I just wanted to mention that "refinement" is popping up all over the place now that I'm looking for it, or more aware of it.

For example, for my talk I drew heavily from the David O. McKay: Teachings of Presidents of the Church book--the chapter called "Elements of Worship." In it he spends a lot of time talking about reverence and meditation. And I quote: "Reverence embraces regard, deference, honor, and esteem. Without some degree of it, therefore, there would be no courtesy, no gentility, no consideration of others' feelings, or of others' rights."

Later he said, "Reverence indicates high culture, and true faith in deity and in his righteousness."

This is the most thought-provoking line in the whole chapter. "I am prompted to place reverence next to love. Jesus mentioned it first in the Lord's prayer. 'Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name . . .." Hallow--to make holy--to hold in reverence. So if we increase the reverence in our home we are making our home increasingly holy and we do that through showing courtesy and and consideration for the other people in our home. We also do that by creating an atmosphere of gentility and high culture. Interesting.

In case you're interested, President McKay gave us three ways to "awaken reverence in children and contribute to its development in their souls. These are: first, firm but Gentle Guidance, second, Courtesy shown by parents to each other, and to children; and third, Prayer in which children participate. In every home in this Church parents should strive to act intelligently in impressing children with those three fundamentals.

Reverence directs thought toward God. Without it there is no religion (his italics and capitalizing)."

You should all read this. It is pretty much one of my favorite talks ever. Elder McConkie is very straight-forward. I like that.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Talk to Discuss

Hello Friends! I just listened to and then read one of the most amazing talks. I thought we could discuss . . . or if not, I thought I'd at least share! :-)

"In Him All Things Shall Hold Together" by Elder Neal A. Maxwell

To Read:

To Listen:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

House by Ju

I read this awhile ago and could think of nothing to respond. Overall, not my favorite book. Fine to read with the kids someday to satiate some interest in the historical aspect of the time. But overall no real "meat" to talk about. I would agree with Kelly that it was a bit far fetched (a bit being sarcastic). Still, I was interested to note that it was loosely based on the author's real experiences.

I have also been reading The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck and find it a bit fascinating. Both books together have sparked my interest in Chinese history. The culture is so foreign to me.

Sorry, not much of a response, but it is 2am here! (I've been painting while J. is away and the kids are asleep . . . I too shall follow them now!)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

House of Sixty Fathers

I had a theme in my reading this month, I guess, as I also read a story about youth in the French Resistance during WWII. Two stories about children during war. Very interesting.

I started this book with no knowledge about it whatsoever. I also read a book this month called "The Land That I Lost" about a man's memories of growing up in Vietnam. It was a sweet, funny story. I think I went into "Sixty Fathers" expecting it to be a sweet tale of a child growing up in China. So I was a bit surprised when I suddenly realized I was reading a tale of a boy, separated from his family, starving to death in a war zone. Not exactly a light and cheerful topic, but the author managed to keep the novel from being dark and heavy. I appreciated that because otherwise stories about struggling children can be too difficult to read.

As I read the story, the cynic in me kept thinking, "what the odds, what are the odds", while the romantic in me loved that all my wishes were eventually fulfilled and they all lived happily ever after. I don't know. What did you guys think? Did you think that the events were too fantastical to actually have happened? After finishing the story I read a little segment that said the events are very loosely based on an actual person. The author never was able to find out the actual end of that person's story, so he crafted his he would have wanted it to be.

However. I did like the courage of little Tien Pao and the determination he had to find his family. He was a very brave little man. I loved how he took such good care of Glory-of-the-Republic and protected him from the hungry refugees. I loved the examples of human kindness at a time when showing any kindness was an obvious sacrifice. Last night I was watching the rest of a Harry Potter movie with Josh. There is a scene in which Dumbledore explains to Harry that we all have both good and bad in us - it is the choices we make and the actions we take that show our true character. I thought about that in regards to "Sixty Fathers" - how war brings out the darkest side of humanity - and yet people continue to show the good side of their character. And I think it is this personal conquering of our baser instincts that is the true winning of the war.

Thanks for a good read. I'll be reading another Meindert DeJong book this fall with my daughter. I'm looking foward to it!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Their Finest Hour - my response

I'm basically done with this book. At least, as done as I'm going to be. I skimmed the last few chapters but I've got other books I've got to get to.

It was an interesting read. I left my notes on it upstairs and I'm too lazy to go get them. I didn't take many notes because I mostly read while I'm nursing and lately nursing has been a two-handed affair. I think my favorite story was the one Churchill told about his idea to create an insurance company for those affected by the bombing. I loved his description that at first the treasury thought it was a waste, until it started making money and then they felt very statesman-like. Made me laugh.

I love the title of the book. I have always been partial to WWII in my history studies. However, most of what I've read in the past has been decidedly American-centric. I felt this book gave me a great appreciation for the British people and the circumstances they experienced. I enjoyed Churchill's obvious and well-deserved pride in his countrymen.

I also found it interesting to read about American politics from another perspective. Churchill's letters to Roosevelt where he called himself "former naval person" made me chuckle every time.

It fascinates me that the choices of one individual can have so much impact on the world-stage. Churchill did a good job balancing the general movement of the war with the specific actions of individuals in order to create a picture of the influences behind every decision. One example is that of a few in the French government who really set the course for France's capitulation to Germany. I've always considered Churchill to be a true statesman. Maybe without meaning to, he manages to show the difference between true statesmanship (himself and others), and a lack (France's Petain).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Great Books!

Hi Everyone!

I'm currently reading The House of Sixty Fathers.

I would love to add one (or more) of these David Bodanis books to out list . . . the "Electric Universe" would be my first choice, but I'd like to read any of them. Take a look and let me know.

Also, thanks for the encouraging words on the contention/sibling rivalry thing. :-)
That principle of "ask and ye shall receive" has been coming back to me again and again lately. I guess it's time to start putting it more fully into practice! :-)

Ta-Ta for now!


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Response to Julia

I was going to write a snarly little response because I don't have much trouble with my children being contentious with each other--instead, I have a huge problem with me creating contention by being a grump.

Instead, I'm going to refer everyone to President Uchtdorf's message in the June Ensign. I was thinking about what Julia had written when I read his message and several things stuck out to me. Mostly, and most importantly, this:

"There is a way to rise above the turbulence of everyday life . . .. You must create lift" by cultivating your own personal righteousness.

He was speaking mainly of prayer but all personal righteousness, including scripture study, helps create the lift that we need.

A few other thoughts I liked from his talk that don't relate to Ju's question include: "Our prayers should spring from our deepest yearning to be one with our Father in Heaven."

And, "The sincere prayer of the righteous heart opens to any individual the door to divine wisdom and strength in that for which he righteously seeks." Like more patience with my children? A greater ability to feel joy? Increased unity with my spouse?

My favorite part of the whole message though was the scripture he quoted, D&C 46:30: "He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore, it is done even as he asketh."

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Response to Ju

The answer to your question is so simple. Just have perfect children!

But in all seriousness, Josh and I have this quote hanging on our fridge:

I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.
- Marion G. Romney
Ensign May 1980 "The Book of Mormon"

The whole talk is pretty good, too! This is just the last paragraph. We use it as our family goal.

Otherwise, I really believe that sometimes children will just be children. I actually think my children are nicer to each other than my sisters and I were and I try to remember that when I get frustrated with their bickering. Oh yes, they fight. Are you shocked to hear that? :-)

Andrea - loved your notes from your lesson. It gave me some things to think about.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Response to Ans

That was great! I wish you were one of our RS teachers! We have teachers who basically just read the lesson. grrr . . . This was very refreshing and loved reading it.

I have one question I thought we could discuss: How do you fully keep contention out of the home, making it more like the temple? That is really the one feeling I wish I could incorporate into the home, that lack of contention. Whenever I go to the temple I see those smiling elderly people all willing and able to help. There's a peace there I would love to replicate and it's mostly the sibling rivalry & whatnot that gives me the other not-so-temple-like feelings. :-) Discuss please.

I also gave a talk in church yesterday about agency, more specifically the principle to act and not be acted upon. I would like to add that here, but it's on our other computer, so I'll attach it later.

Don't you just love learning and studying deeper?!


Sunday, June 28, 2009

More temple stuff

Kami and I decided that we could post about whatever we wanted on this blog. So, more about temples from me. I taught the RS lesson today from Elder Christofferson's talk, "The Power of Covenants." Since I don't get to teach Elder Bednar's talk, "Honorably Hold a Name and Standing," or "Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples," by Elder Stevenson, I freely stole from those talks for my lesson as well. Also, I used Mormon Doctrine despite it not being an authoritative text because I wanted to. Don't worry, I told the sisters where I was getting the information so they could choose to take it or leave it.

Basically, I learned a ton while preparing for this lesson. Much of what I read I knew without really knowing it. If that makes sense. First, Elder C started off by talking about what covenants are and I tried to think of all the covenants I have made and what I've promised. I didn't know what all I'd promised. Then I asked Timothy--neither did he. I went to Mormon Doctrine and Elder McConkie really clarified some things for me.

First, he classifies covenants and talks about making a progression of covenants, each one leading you closer to fully taking upon yourself the name of Christ and being sanctified. The first level of covenant is the covenants of salvation which we hear about as the new and everlasting covenant, or law of the gospel, or the article of faith: first principles and ordinances of the gospel are faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost. Those are the primer covenants, so to speak.

Then, you run into the "covenants of conformity." Meaning, you conform (obey) specific commandments and receive specific blessings. Many commandments don't have specific blessings attached, like only having one piercing in your ear, so you reap unspecified blessings for your obedience. However, some commandments have specific blessings. Elder M mentioned the word of wisdom, tithing, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and the United Order (consecration). As you conform to those commandments, God is bound to give you the specific blessings promised, thereby making it a covenant.

Then you reach the covenants of exaltation, which are the covenants for those ready to receive more blessings by being obedient to more covenants. These are, obviously, the temple covenants. Elder M also said that receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood is a covenant of exaltation. I hadn't thought of that one. These covenants allow you to become gods and goddessess and receive all that the Father has.

Elder C stated, "In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact. . . . Our covenant commitment to Him permits our Heavenly Father to let His divine influence, 'the power of godliness' flow into our lives." I thought of it as a spigot--we're in charge of how many blessings we receive by how "exact" our obedience is.

Elder C talked about the types of blessings we get through our obedience to our covenants including: "a continual flow of blessings," "the resources we need to act rather than simply be acted upon" (which I read as increased self-discipline), "greater control over our lives," "greater capacity to . . . work and create," "a steady supply of gifts and help," "the faith necessary to perservere," our "faith expands," "bestowal of divine power," "endowed with power from on high," companionship of the Holy Ghost, and others that didn't stick out at me quite as much. See 1 Nephi 17:3 and D&C 97:8.

Elder Bednar also talked about the blessings of temple ordinances and covenants. He quoted Alma 26: 6: "Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penentrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them." Also D&C 109:22: " . . . that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with ty power, and that thy name may be upon them." Also, "Thus, in the ordinances of the holy temple we more completely and fully take upon us the name of Jesus Christ."

Elder Bednar really drove home the point of the importance of the protection afforded by temple covenants when he quoted D&C 109:24-28:

That no weapon formed against them shall prosper; that he who diggeth a pit for them shall fall into the same himself;
That no combination of wickedness shall have power to rise up and prevail over thy people upon whom thy name shall be put in this house;
And if any people shall rise against this people, that thine anger be kindled against them;
And if they shall smite this people thou wilt smite them; thou wilt fight for thy people as thou didst in the day of battle, that they may be delivered from the hands of all thier enemies.

The part that really struck me, though, was when Elder B said, "I invite you to study repeatedly and ponder prayerfully the implications of these scriptures in your life and for your family."

As we know, our homes are supposed to be sacred like the temples. If we keep our covenants we can claim this protection for our homes. Elder Stevenson said, "Not only can we turn the doors of our homes to the temple, or the house of the Lord; we can make our homes a 'house of the Lord.'" I think sometimes we fail to receive blessings because we don't understand them, or ask for them. In this case the blessings are so clear. We should be praying for this level of protection in our home. Essentially, if we are keeping our covenants, we can prevent Satan from having influence in our home. "That no weapon formed against them shall prosper." All of Satan's temptations are weapons, but in our homes, if we keep our covenants, Satan's weapons will not prosper--and therefore Satan's power will be neutralized in our homes. That's some serious protection promised to us. Elder B said, "The devil despises the purity in and the power of the Lord's house. And the protection available to each of us in and through temple ordinances and covenants stands as a great obstacle to the evil designs of Lucifer."

Elder C also said, "The temple will provide direction for you and your family in a world filled with chaos." He then told us to go on a mental tour of our home (I know you all remember this) and evaluate how closely our homes resemble a temple. Things that stuck out for me include: "Is it a place of love, peace, and refuge from the world, as is the temple? . . . do you see uplifting images? . . .. Is the conversation uplifting and without contention? . . . We may be well-advised to consider together, in family council, standards for our homes to keep them sacred and to allow them to be a 'house of the Lord.'"

When I evaluate those three articles together I am struck by how many blessings are promised to us if we keep our covenants, and how our homes can and need to be similar to a temple.

I was also struck by Elder B's call to repentance: "There is a difference between church-attending, tithe-paying members who occasionally rush into the temple to go through a session and those members who faithfully and consistently worship in the temple."

Another Book Review

I'm sorry I'm not following the book list right now.
However, at the same time I'm not very sorry because I just read a great book set during the French Revolution era called "The Red Necklace" by Sally Gardner. Now, I was utterly shocked by the ending until I disovered there will be a sequel! Which makes me love the book all the more! This book had magic, mystery, suspense, and a little bit of romance. This was definitely a "neglect your family" book because I was caught from page 1!!

And, I still want you all to read "The Hunger Games" and tell me what you think!! :-)

Sorry, Ans . . . I never got Winston . . . they don't have it at our library and our library is in the process of moving so ordering books is a tad bit tricky these days. :-( Maybe I'll catch up when you're on book 5. :-)


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Last of Winston

I loved the book. It was incredible to read what Winston had to say about the war. I'm excited to read the other five in the series. I don't have an essay in mind, but I am going to leave you with some more of my favorite Winston lines.

Winston came up with his own explanation for why Londoners didn't suffer from pandemics during the Blitz due to so many people spending time in such close proximity. The explanation was ridiculous but funny, and then he said: "If this is not scientifically correct, it ought to be."

Winston was very supportive in his remarks about the French generally. Not so the Italians. He frequently told his Admirals that they couldn't just look at how many ships the Italians had and concede defeat. They had to remember that Italians were the ones manning the ships, and therefore the British outnumbered them easily. My favorite derogatory Italian statement though was on page 365. In a memo to General Wavell (in charge of North Africa), Winston was berating him for leaving so many troops in Kenya and for declaring the South African Brigade not well-trained enough for fighting. Winston wrote: "Anyhow, they are certainly good enough to fight Italians." Hilarious.

Pg. 369 is a memo Winston wrote to some of his generals, he wrote: "All water supplies between Mersa Matruh and the Alexandria defences must be rendered 'depotable.'" Then in a footnote he wrote, "This was the wretched word used at this time for 'undrinkable.' I am sorry."

Winston was never fond of defensive warfare. In some history books I've read, the authors claim that Winston wasn't a very good tactician. That might be the case, but from reading Winston's own words the feeling I get is that he was a risk-taker surrounded by people who wanted to play it safe. When he did convince people to take risks, it sometimes turned out brilliantly, and it sometimes didn't. He would shrug and say, "That's war," but others wouldn't let it go so easily. That's my take on it. However, I'm no expert. Yet.

On pgs. 462-463, Winston is explaining the military offensive designed by Wavell (Africa) and his compadres. Winston was very excited. He wrote, "We were all delighted. I purred like six cats. Here was something worth doing."

Pg. 464: More funny snideness directed at the Italians. The admiralty finally, after much urging by Winston, attacked the Italian fleet. It was a huge victory for the British. Winston wrote, "An ironic touch is imparted to the event by the fact that on this very day the Italian Air Force at the express wish of Mussolini had taken part in the air attack on Great Britain. An Italian bomber force, escorted by about sixty fighters attempted to bomb Allied convoys in the Medway. They were intercepted by our fighters, eight bombers and five fighters being shot down. This was their first and last intervention in our domestic affairs. They might have found better employment defending their fleet at Taranto."

Pg. 466: Winston sums up his view of waging war in a note to General Wavell, "As we told you the other day, we shall stand by you and Wilson in any well-conceived action irrespective of result, because no one can guarantee success in war, but only deserve it."

Pg. 470: Winston on the election to a third term of President Roosevelt. "Still, it was with profound anxiety that I awaited the result [of the election]. No newcomer into power could possess or soon acquire the knowledge and experience of Franklin Roosevelt. None could equal his commanding gifts."

474: Winston on finance. "From the time I formed the new Government and Sir Kingsley Wood became Chancellor of the Exchequer we followed a simpler plan, namely, to order everything we possibly could [of war materials and weapons] and leave future financial problems on the lap of the Eternal Gods. Fighting for life and presently alone under ceaseless bombardment, with invasion glaring upon us, it would have been false economy and misdirected prudence to worry too much about what would happen when our dollars ran out."

Pg. 484: Winston on lend-lease (the policy that allowed America to give for an undetermined length of time everything possible to Britain to facilitate in the fighting). " . . . the most unsordid act in the history of any nation."

Pg. 497: On the fact that Hitler was a crack-pot. The Russian ambassador to Germany in response to a lengthy meeting with Hitler: "Molotov replied that he had followed the arguments of the Fuehrer with interest and that he was in agreement with everything that he had understood."

In summary, this book was fantastically written and documented. Winston is the man--whether leading the British Empire or writing history, his genius is evident.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Temple Part 2

I wasn't able to go to the last temple fireside but my friend had asked for a copy of his powerpoint presentation, so this is basically word for word what's on there, plus pictures. Sweet, eh?

Ancient Temple Typology:

•The temple is the architectural embodiment of the cosmic mountain or universe.

The form of the Buddhist mandala is architectonic, the square section being the platform upon which sits a circular temple. The square represents material space with gateways at the four quarters of the earth, while the circle focuses upon its timeless center (See picture above.)
Michelangelo's preliminary plan for San Giovanni de' Fiorentini (1559) follows the ancient tradition of the centralized temple plan. The symbolic relationship between square and circle is that of the human and the divine. The integration of the two is a metaphor for equilibrium between earth and heaven. (see picture above.)

The cosmic mountain represents the primordial hillock, the place which first emerged from the waters that covered the earth during the creative process.

The temple is often associated with the waters of life which flow from a spring within the building itself—or rather the temple is viewed as incorporating within itself such a spring, or as having been built upon the spring.

The reason that such springs exist in temples is that they were perceived as the primeval waters of creation. The temple is thus founded upon and stands in contact with the waters of creation. These waters carry the dual symbolism of the chaotic waters that were organized during the creation and of the life-giving, saving nature of the waters of life.

•The temple is built on separate, sacral, set-apart space.

•The temple is oriented toward the four world regions or cardinal directions, and to various celestial bodies such as the polar star.

-As such, it is or can be an astronomical observatory, the main purpose of which is to assist the temple priests in regulating the ritual calendar. The earthly temple is also seen as a copy or counterpart of a heavenly model.

•Temples, in their architectonic orientation, express the idea of a successive ascension toward heaven. It was constructed of three, five, or seven levels or stages.

-Monumental staircases led to the upper levels, where smaller temples stood. The basic ritual pattern is that the worshippers ascended the staircase to the top, the deity descended from heaven, and the two met in the highest level.

The plan and measurements of the temple are revealed by God to the king or prophet, and the plan must be carefully carried out.

The temple is the central, organizing, unifying institution in ancient Near Eastern society.

•Inside the temple, images of deities as well as kings, temple priests, ad worshipers are washed, anointed, clothed, fed, enthroned, and symbolically initiated into the presence of Deity, and thus into eternal life. Seasonally dramas depicting heavenly wars, victories over evil, creation of the cosmos, cities, temples and social order.

-Sacred marriages are also carried out seasonally.

•The temple is associated with the realm of the dead, the underworld, the afterlife, the grave. The unifying features here are the rites and worship of ancestors. The unifying principle between temple and tomb is resurrection. The temple is the link between this world and the next.

•Sacral, communal meals are carried out in connection with temple ritual, often at the conclusion of or during a covenant ceremony.

God's word is revealed in the temple, usually in the holy of holies, to priests or prophets attached to the temple or to the religious system that it represents

The temple is a place of sacrifice.

The temple and its ritual are enshrouded in secrecy.
And that's all for tonight, because I have much else I have to get done. There is another section I have and I'll try to post it soon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I just finished an excellent book.

Anyone read this yet? If not, I recommend it and would LOVE to talk about it. :-)
There's a sequel coming out in Sept. I think, too, so should be good, good, good!

I would say this book reminds me of Ender's Game (if I need to compare it to anything).

Read it! It's great!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009


A couple years ago I watched part of the movie "Yes", in which everything is in iambic pentameter. It was neat to watch something contemporary written that way. Anyway, I don't recommend it really, it was all about affairs and what not. But here's one quote that sums up the theme of the movie.

Cleaner: And, in the end, it simply isn't worth / Your while to try and clean your life away. / You can't. For, everything you do or say / Is there, forever. It leaves evidence. / In fact it's really only common sense; / There's no such thing as nothing, not at all. / It may be really very, very small / But it's still there. In fact I think I'd guess / That "no" does not exist. There's only "yes".

Reading Shakespeare reminded me of it.


I know I'm a little behind but I finally finished Hamlet. I didn't like it nearly as much as I liked Macbeth. But it is always a pleasure to read Shakespeare. The words are just so well put together, and so clever. I love just the rhythm and how they sound together. That being said, Hamlet reminded me of Oedipus Rex--completely lame--where the characters have no real control of their destiny and die stupid deaths. Anyway, I'm going to be completely brief because I have loads of things to do, but here are a couple of my favorite lines.

Ham: Is this the prologue, or the posy of a ring?
Oph: 'Tis brief, my lord.
Ham: As a woman's love.

Hee. Hee. (However, that annoyed me too. Hamlet was so cruel to Ophelia when it was really his mother that had made a poor choice, and he based all women off of her.)

Ham: I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not born me: I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them it, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between heaven and earth? We are arrant knaves, all: believe none of us.

I just love it--every thought is so beautifully said.

Anyway, I really do have to get going. But I was surprised reading Hamlet, how many quotes and snippets are everywhere else in our culture, even besides my father's oft misquoted lines.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More of my love affair with Winston

Their Finest Hour continues to captivate. I absolutely love that Winston includes so many documents--it makes me feel that I am really in the moment. Kami pointed out to me that I might like the documents because I'm a historian. Point taken. Still, I can't imagine anyone not enjoying feeling like he's at Winston's elbow as Winston tries to fortify his island and outguess Hitler.

On top of the documents, you get Winston's casually brilliant turn of phrase peppered throughout. I'm including some of my favorites (so far) here, for your enjoyment.

Pg. 115: Churchill's remarking on Italy's joining the war on Hitler's side. He says, "The rush for the spoils had begun. But Mussolini was not the only hungry animal seeking prey. To join the Jackal came the Bear." The Bear being, obviously, Russia.

Pg. 125: "Never has a great nation been so naked before her foes." Churchill was commenting on how under-armed Britain was following Dunkirk. He called it the "dark side" of Dunkirk, meaning that while boats were able to evacuate men, they were not able to evacuate weapons and so the British army was essentially hamstringed.

Pg. 126: "I see only one way through now, to wit, that Hitler should attack this country, and in so doing, break his air weapon." Churchill displaying his uncanny grasp of the future.

Pg. 132: "I displayed the smiling countenance and confident air which are thought suitable when things are very bad . . .." Churchill smiled??? When?? This is, without question, the most hard to swallow statement Churchill has made thus far.

Pg. 134: "On this I said that I was not a military expert, but that my technical advisors were of the opinion that the best method of dealing with German invasion on the island of Britain was to drown as many as possible on the way over and knock the others on the head as they crawled ashore."

Pg. 143: "I had always hankered for the name 'Home Guard.'"

Pg. 144: Churchill explains that his commanding officers asked if they could fire a practice round of ammo to teach their novice troops how to use certain weapons. Churchill replied that the ammunition could not be spared. That is how hard up the British were for ammunition and weapons immediately following the fall of France.

Pg. 147: Churchill is explaining how the press will report certain eventualities of the war. He indicated that air raids were never to be headlined and treated as "ordinary routine." It is interesting because I've learned quite a bit about American propaganda, but I've never studied British propaganda. It appears they handled everything in the generally accepted understated British fashion. Makes sense.

Pg. 161: I didn't realize that President Roosevelt was facing his third presidential election when the Battle of the Bulge was underway. FDR was extremely committed to the war years before public opinion started to shift in that direction. In many respects, Pearl Harbor was a relief for him. I hadn't realized that the election forced him to damper support efforts, rather than simply Congressional opinion. Now I am curious what Congress itself was thinking, separate from its constituencies.

Pg. 206: After the fall of France, Britain was forced to eliminate the threat of the French navy. It sunk several ships and commandered others. In the process, several Frenchmen were killed. Churchill records this story: "In a village near Toulon dwelt two peasant families, each of whom had lost their sailor son by British fire at Oran. A funeral service was arranged to which all their neighbours sought to go. Both families requested that the Union Jack should lie upon the coffins side by side with the Tricolour, and their wishes were respectfully observed. In this we may see how the comprehending spirit of single folk touches the sublime."

Pg. 254: "A very careful study was made of the moon and the tides." I read this sentence and giggled. Taken out of context it sounds like the British had given up all hope and turned to some sort of voodoo astrology. That's what first came to my mind when I read it. Then I remembered that England is an island and the British the naval kings. Tides are important for people on boats.

Pg. 254-255: "One could not help being inwardly excited alike by the atmosphere and the evidence of Hitler's intentions which streamed in upon us. There were, indeed, some who, on purely technical grounds , and for the sake of the effect the total defeat and destruction of his [Hitler] expedition would have on the general war, were quite content to see him try." That is pure Churchill. Guaranteed he was one of those who wished, secretly, to see Hitler try to invade England.

Pg. 255: "Certainly those who knew most were the least scared." Churchill on the feelings in England in the face of an invasion by the Germans.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Their Finest Hour, Installment One

As I'm sure Kami could have guessed, I have so much to say already about the book and I am only 1/5 of the way through it, that I decided to proceed with an installment system. Forgive me my vulgar language while I say: Winston is THE MAN.

The book (the second of his complete history of WWII) starts just as Winston is finally made Prime Minister, is in the process of reforming the government ministries, and on the eve of the disastrous Battle of the Bulge. He starts his book by expressing his great joy at finally being in charge. He states, "But power in a national crisis, when a man believes he knows what orders should be given, is a blessing. In any sphere of action there can be no comparison between the positions of number one and number two, three, or four." So true. This resonates with me because I like to be in charge. When I would return from Enrichment committe meetings Timothy would ask, "Were you a good Indian?" I'm much more comfortable as chief. My desire to be in charge, however, lacked the acute dismay of watching those above me completely ignore threats to my country's very existence. Chamberlain carefully led Britain down a path that could only result in catastrophe. Winston was frustrated and despondent during the years leading to the war--knowing what was going to happen but absolutely unable to stop it.

No wonder he took the reins with a sigh of relief and exultation.

Another major point of the first few chapters of the book is Winston's careful changing of the guard--so to speak. In that bizarre British way, everyone had to be shifted between all the critical posts. We frequently hear about Winston as the British bulldog, and how unchanging he was in his opinions, but we don't hear as often about Winston as politician. To be as successful as he was, he had to compromise. This is often overlooked. I enjoyed reading about the delicate maneuvering that took place as war loomed only days away. If Winston really wanted a person in a position, he got him. However, the positions he cared about less he balanced between the three parties in a political dance that demonstrated his political prowess.

Reading about the Battle of the Bulge was frustrating--so many chances to stop Hitler lost to poor planning and hubris. The evacuation at Dunkirk--what can you say about so much bravery, compassion, loyalty, and selflessness?

Reading about WWII from Winston's own pen has proved every bit as fascinating and enjoyable as I expected. I reiterate: Winston is THE MAN.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Refined Home

I finally read the article too. Thanks, it was great!!! Several things popped into my head and I thought I'd comment really quick.

First of all, two random stories: I dated this guy Grant in college (okay, the only guy I dated besides my husband) and I liked him and had fun with him and his sisters, but I dumped him because he wasn't "refined" (at least not that I had noticed). Okay, that might sound really rude, but seriously, their house (him and a brother and two sisters bought a house together) was decorated with Kurt Cobain posters and all of them dressed skaterish for lack of a better description. Anyway, that was literally the main reason I stopped dating him, because I wanted my home more cultured than that.

Second random story, when Leo and I went on our first date, we went to a movie theater, then we came home and rented another movie and started to watch it. Leo picked it, and I don't remember if it was rated R or not, I don't think so, but it was really crude--oh it was, There's Something About Mary--I think anyway. I hate movies like that, but I was being rather "nice" about it because well, I liked Leo. Leo could tell I really didn't enjoy it though, and he kept apologizing to me and then HE finally turned it off. Then he called me the next day to apologize. Yeah, that's when I knew I REALLY, REALLY liked Leo.

One thing I LOVE about Leo, is that he'll go to almost any cultural event with me and enjoy as much or more than me. It's so nice to have a husband that appreciates music and dance. It's one of my favorite things about him. It makes me want to kiss him just thinking about it. Too bad he doesn't get home till tomorrow. Sigh.

The other thing I wanted to say was that I felt rather guilty reading about Andrea's Summer of Service, because what I had planned was my summer of soaking up Chicago. Rather selfish, but now I feel a little less guilty. Besides, when else will we have the chance to see so many world-class entertainment for practically free? I plan on taking my kids to a ballet, opera, some classical music concerts, Berstein concert, Moroccan, Colombian, Korean, Spanish, Celtic and other world music shows, a Chines play, Cirque Shanghai (that's Leo's and Isabel's birthday present--who needs more toys???!!!? Shh... nobody tell Leo) , and I might try to go with Leo to Fiddler on the Roof with Topol (the guy who plays the main character in the movie is reprising his role for the last time) but I don't know yet if we can afford the cheap seats. Hmmm.... Also, the Children's Immigration Museum and Mexican Art museum, and a couple other things like that. Anyway, you get the idea. It's going to be crazy busy, but I so want to expose my children to stuff like this while I can for the cost of $14 parking and gas. Maybe we'll burn out, well see.

Anyway, none of this was enlightening in any way whatsoever. Once I read over the article with Leo maybe I'll have something to add to the conversation rather than just talking about myself, which he said not to do in the article. Oops.

Oh, I do have one comment about art. I swore since I was about 12 yrs old that I would not have the typical Mormon home with what I considered lame decorations. I wanted "real" art. The I heard a talk in General Conference about decorating our homes with pictures of Christ, etc, and I repented. But I still plan someday when I have more wall space to put up REALLY GOOD paintings. Not saying Greg Olsen isn't a really good painter, but I think just like our libraries have literary classics besides church books, I want my home to art works of substance other than the lastest trend decor from Deseret Book. Okay, that sounds really snootty, lo siento. I really better quit writing now before I stick my foot in my mouth farther. Chao.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Response to Kelly & Andrea

Read my first post first . . .

I loved what both of you wrote!
First Andrea:
There is a lot of cheating and booze drinking that goes on in country music too. Stinks, doesn't it!? However, have you heard Josh Turner? Amazing! And his songs are always great, clean and wholesome (at least all of the ones I've heard!).

I loved what you said about appearance, too. I have not taught this principle to the chlidren very well. I honestly only do the girls' hair if we are going somewhere! I need to make it a daily habit in the morning so we're always ready for anything and so they learn to make themselves look good. Homeschooling does that to me! :-)

Loved what you said about classical music, too, and listening in the car. Often that is our travelling, road trip music (along with the Sound of Music sountrack!).

I loved your mealtime idea, I didn't even think of that! There is one lady in our ward who would actually serve courses to her children occasionally, so they could learn that refinement! And the table was always set neatly, especially on Sundays. I remember when we first moved here one elderly lady was telling us how the wind used to blow so hard, and there was so much dust that she would just have to serve the meals in pots so she could cover the food with a lid. J. said to me afterwards, "We always serve our meals in the pots!" I think this would minimize teaching manners in a more critical tone as well.

Since reading this talk I've been planning on playing classical or piano music just before J. gets home. When he gest home it's always so crazy because we're all hungry! We usually have the table set, things picked up and dinner ready, but I think a bit of that calming music might prepare us all for a more refined discussion at the table too (and we'll get in our classical music listening time!). :-)

I think there's a lot to be said about the computer as well, more so than the TV (for us anyway). It is amazing how much time one can spend on the computer. I'm good at monitoring my children on time, but J. and I could spend hours just "working" on the computer. Is the time I spend well-spent? Am I only doing the worthwhile things or just passing time? These are the questions we ask ourselves because time ZIPS by when online!

Speaking of which . . . J. is out of town thsi week and almost ALL of the books I had on hold came in at the library today . . . which means I've got a LOT of reading to do! I was hoping to watch Le Mis (Netflix instant play) but now I've got all these books. What do I have?

The Graveyard Book
Hunger Games
The Princess if the Midnight Ball
The House of Sixty Fathers
The Blue Sword
Angels and Demons
Hitler Youth

and some books about learning styles and whatnot. Plus, I'm currently reading "The Good Earth" (I suggest this as a book discussion book!), I'm gaining a great fascination with Chinese culture and literature!

You guys are great!!

Our Refined Heavenly Home

I am going to post my thoughts before I read Andrea's and Kelly's because I do not want to be biased. :-)

My thoughts went many different directions, actually, when reading this article. In order:
1) Is this for real? (especially regarding the "Awesome" statement . . . I'll get to that later)
2) It reminded me of the "Mothers Who Know" talk
3) This is really sifting the wheat from the chaff!
4) Amazing! Wonderful! What can I take from this?

I had to download and read the original, long version of the talk because there were some things I wanted to clarify and some things I wanted more information about. I'm so glad I did this!

The first part about the language and using words like "Awesome" startled me because I tell my kids they are awesome and their actions are awesome all the time. Not overly much like some, but I do use those words. Therefore, it was comforting to read his original wording, "We would be disappointed if God had to us 'awesome' or other exaggerated phrases in every paragraph." He continues, "We will thrill to hear exalted beings express their sublime thoughts in perfectly chosen words." This must be something I need to work on because I cringed just a little. Some people just aren't as eloquent! Some people are not English majors! I agree, we do need to work on our language. For me, I work on the tone of the home. With what tone do I speak to my children and to my husband. With what tone do I encourage my children to speak in one to another. That to me is more important than perfectly thought out words. Thus he says, "Refinement in speech is more than polished elocution. It results from purity of thought and sincerity of expression." If we have purityof thought, we will have purity of language.

"There are those who always speak of themselves . . . There are those who always speak of others . . . There are thsoe who speak of stirring ideas, compelling books, and inspiring doctrine. These are the few who make their mark in the world. The subjects discussed in heaven are not trifling or mundane." I have to say I agree with this mostly. I believe there are some who discuss stirring ideas only and thus become boring or not "in tune" socially with those around them (I know a couple of such individuals). However, maybe those individuals are those who talk about those ideas in the form of really talking about themselves and their knowledge on such topics. That could be true, didn't think about that! I would agree that in heaven we will not discuss trivial matters, which is a stirring thought for what we discuss in our homes & at the dinner table.

On the subject of literature, I loved it all! Loved this quote: "[Education] has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading." I personally feel that the computer has detracted much from the value of literally holding a book and reading words on pages. The internet is a great and vast source of information, but there are many books that go unread becuase of this.

I remember a quote by Elder Haight in which he said a home needs only three things: a piano, good books, and love. I am always inspired by the prophets and apostles for when they speak you know they are well-read in classical literature and poetry. I have a horrible memory. I don't remember much of what I read. I couldn't believe the story of President David O. McKay skim reading at least two books before 6am! Wow! "Whatever you read, listen to, or look at has an effecxt on you. Therefore, choose only entertainment and media that uplift you." We are to learn out of the best books! So, what books do you have by your bedside? :-)

However, I do have to say one thing here . . . I don't like re-reading books. I think I follow the 10-year plan C.S. Lewis mentioned, though, so I guess I'm okay! :-)

Elder Callister's section on music was also a bit iffy for me, so when I read President Brigham Young's quote, "There is no music in hell, for all good music belongs to heaven." I was a bit comforted. I think there is a time and place for all genres of music. Still, I wonder, because the music I listen to while cleaning the house doesn't seem like heaven-appropriate music. Will we really listen to Crazy Frog?!?! :-) I think the key here was to be sure not to omit good music from our homes. I want my kids to know classical & boroque, 60's & 80's, good songs from today. I want them to appreciate the hymns and learn to love them. J's father has said for a long time that the love of music is a spiritual trait. I agree.

I also enjoyed the story of the young boy seeking out an eternal mate and was encouraged to watch the young women in cultural arts settings. Again, do our children have the appreciation for the arts?

I couldn't help but think of Dr. Laura when reading about personal appearance and giving attention to our looks! I like the word "attentiveness" that he uses. I don't think I look bad, I try to look my best, but I can't spend money on myself in this area. Cheap makeup is fine, but anything beyond that I feel guilty. I've been thinking a lot about this with aging and how I would like to prevent those inevitable wrinkles from showing up too soon! :-) I loved this quote, "Every man has the right to be married to a woman who makes herslef as beautiful as she can . . . A husband should hurry home because of the angel who awaits him, and that angel should be watching the clock awaiting his arrival." Wow! So tender! How many times have I been watching the clock for J. in frustration that he's not home yet? Am I really the angel he has the right to come home to? Or am I waiting to pass the buck, so to speak? There is much to be said about appearance, and taking the time for ourselves to be beautiful (although, I am not going to start ironing my money!). :-) This can also go along with making the appearance of our homes, places of refinement. It's okay to make your homes beautiful! I always marvel at how much thought goes into beautifying the temple. No detail is forgotten!

My latest quote for vinyl lettering . . . "Don't Lose Your Vision." I want my kids to see this every day. I want them to know they are truly spirit sons and daughters of God! I want them to feel this and by creating a refined home it is more possible for them to do so.

Overall, excellent talk! More of a kick in the pants for me than anything, but a great reminder for who we need to become!