Thursday, 31 March 2011

Book Thoughts for March

This month was incredibly stressful so I made it a point to find lots of time to read - consequently, I have a lot of books I want to talk about with the world.
I finally finished Winston & Clementine: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Churchills written by Richard Hough. Oh my gosh, it was a struggle. A huge part of Winston's life was war and the author went into way more war detail than I wanted. (It didn't help that I didn't have the necessary background knowledge to appreciate all of the details and if he gave me all of the necessary background knowledge the book would have been doubly long.) The writing style was also somewhat pompous and difficult to understand. Never have I struggled so much with unknown words as I did with this book. Some words I thought I knew, but the author used them in such a different context that I realized I only had partial knowledge of the word. (For example, look up the definitions for mandarin.) After page 250 and until the end of the book (pg. 557)I started keeping a running list of all the words I didn't know or were used in a context I was unfamiliar with. Unfortunately, I cannot find my completed list, but here's a gist (If you actually read every word in this list, I am concerned about you.):
Abstruse (p.413) – hard to understand; recondite; esoteric
Acetylene (p.306) – a colorless gas, having an etherlike odor, produced usually by the action of water on calcium carbide or by pyrolysis of natural gas: used especially in metal cutting and welding, as an illuminant, and in organic synthesis
Ambrosial – exceptionally pleasing to taste or smell; worthy of the gods; divine
Aphorisms – a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation
Astrakhan (p.259) – a fur of young lambs, with lustrous, closely curled wool from Astrakhan
Bellicose (p.446) – inclined or eager to fight; aggressively hostile; belligerent; pugnacious.
Billet (p.325) – to provide lodging for; quarter
Bucolic (p.318) – pertaining to or suggesting an idyllic rural life; pastoral
Cataleptic (p.252) – a physical condition usually associated with catatonic schizophrenia (catalepsy)
Caviling (p.456) –to raise irritating and trivial objections; find fault with unnecessarily (cavil)
Chukkas (p.421) – an ankle-high shoe, laced through two pairs of eyelets, often made of suede
Clarion (p.406) – clear and shrill
Desiderate (p.351) – to wish or long for
Dilatoriness (p.346) - tending to delay or procrastinate; slow; tardy
Duchy (p.317) – the territory ruled by a duke or duchess
Equerry (p.277) – an officer of a royal or similar household, charged with the care of the horses
Excoriating – to denounce or berate severely; flay verbally (excoriate)
Execrable – utterly detestable, abominable, abhorrent; very bad
Eyrie (p.321) – any high isolated position or place
Importunate – urgent or persistent in solicitation; troublesome, annoying
Invective (p.351) – vehement or violent denunciation, censure, or reproach; an insulting or abusive word or expression
Limber (p.338) – a two-wheeled vehicle, originally pulled by four or six horses, behind which is towed a field gun or caisson
Mandarin (p.409) – a member of an elite or powerful group or class, as in intellectual or cultural milieus
Moribund (p.322) – in a dying state; on the verge of extinction or termination; stagnant
Naif (p.382) – a naive or inexperienced person
Obdurate (p.287) – unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubbornly resistant to moral influence
Obstreperous (p.370) – resisting control or restraint in a difficult manner; unruly; noisy, clamorous, or boisterous
Penury (p.383) – scarcity; dearth; inadequacy; insufficiency
Percipience (p.367) – having perception; discerning; discriminating
Pilloried (p. 322) – to expose to public derision, ridicule, or abuse (pillory)
Portentous – ominously significant; marvelous, amazing
Purloined (p.464) – to take dishonestly; steal; filch; pilfer (purloin)
Purview – the range of operation, authority, control; the range of vision, insight, understanding
Sinecurists – an office or position requiring little or no work, especially one yielding profitable returns (sinecure)
Stertorous – characterized by heavy snoring; breathing in this manner (respiration – see stertor)
Stricture (p.470) – a remark or comment, especially an adverse criticism; a restriction
Truculence – fierce; cruel; savagely brutal ;scathing; aggressively hostile
Untrammelled – a hindrance or impediment to free action (trammel)
Yep. I should feel smarter, right? Anyways, I would never recommend this book to anyone unless they were familiar with intense background knowledge of Winston's wars or had some creepy, obsessive love with the man. I found enough of the book interesting for me to finish it, but not everyone is an Anglophile like me.

The next book I read I actually read with Mr. Mitchell. I convinced him to read me to sleep every night with it and it is seriously the best sleeping medicine ever. We decided to get hip with what the kids are reading these days and settled on Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief written by Rick Riordan. The book is aimed for children in their upper elementary years so the book is very fast and easy to read. Something we didn't quite jive with is the fact that his hero is supposed to be 12 years old but he talks like a high schooler. At the same time, it makes for funny dialogue which is half the reason the books are fun to read. Something we really like about the books is all of the mythology that kids are introduced to by reading them. Plus, the little adventures are just fun. If you have seen the movie, the book is actually very different and I would recommend reading the book if only to see how much Hollywood changed it.

The next book was also a joint read with Mr. Mitchell because we decided to continue with the Percy Jackson series. The next one is Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters. Something that I should mention about the books, is that there do seem to be frequent typos, unfortunately. (That is what makes me hesitant to purchase them for our own library for our kids to read someday: the stories are fun, but the writing is not that high-quality.) However, it is fun to see how the characters develop and grow and what sticky spot they'll end up in next. I also feel that this book would help children consider how they treat people, especially those that are "ugly," "unpopular," "stupid," etc.

The fourth book I read was The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. This book is meant for young adults and is another one that I read to 'stay hip' with the kids. On the back of the book it says that it is based off of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, so I decided I should read that first. Mr. Mitchell and I read it together and agreed that it was stupid and were not surprised that it is a fairytale that nobody has heard of. Well, I read the book anyway and at first I hated it despite the fact that, even now that I've finished it, I have no idea how it was based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale. (Similarities: the term 'goose girl,' she started out as a princess, she married a handsome man.) The book was just weird and I wasn't really into it, but I fought it and finished it. About 3/4 of the way through I finally reached a point where I was excited to get a chance to read it to see what would happen next. Now that I have finished I have decided that I would read it again, but I would probably wait until I had difficulty remembering events in the book.

The fifth book I read this month was, once again, read with Mr. Mitchell. We read the third in the series called Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Titan's Curse. This book was a little more emotionally intense than the first two and a somewhat unhappy ending. If it's a hook meant to get people to read the next book, then it has definitely worked on me. This book really shows the depth of the conflict that Riordan was surfacing in the first two books, and while it answers a couple of questions, it raises so many more that make me want to continue.

And the sixth and final book I read was The Maze Runner written by James Dashner. It's categorized as a young adult book and I would keep it that way. The book can be slightly disturbing and somewhat graphic. It never got to a point where I thought it was messed up to be reading it, but I do think that a certain maturity level is needed to read the book. The first few chapters of the book were weird and frustrating, but as I read on I realized I was probably feeling similar to how the main character of the book felt throughout the whole thing. In the end the book ended up being very intriguing and hard to put down and I will definitely read the sequel.

My next read is Incarceron by Catherine Fisher which Mr. Mitchell assures me I will like.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Festival of Colors

Mr. Mitchell and I really enjoy the Festival of Colors at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple. We have decided that God must also like the Festival of Colors because every year poor weather is predicted for that day, but it never follows through. Here is a little bit of our Festival of Colors history:
Festival of Colors 2008: friends - our first time we went with a group of friends and it was fairly crowded.

Festival of Colors 2009: dating - we went with post-semester abroad friends and it was even more crowded, but we got there so early we had a great spot and time to tour the temple.

Festival of Colors 2010: engaged - the previous years had been crowded enough they had two throwings this year. We went with Mr. Mitchell's brother, Joey, and his friend and an old mission companion of Mr. Mitchell's. (Notice the dwindling numbers in our group each year.) People were starting to behave a little immaturely at the very crowded festival.

Festival of Colors 2011: married - we have decided this was our last time at the festival. Every year people behave more stupidly and immaturely. This year the festival ran non-stop from 10am-6pm with throwings every two hours. We made it just in time for the throwing where they burned the witch. This year it was just the two of us.

Friday, 25 March 2011

5th Grade Fun

So, for my practicum I have been teaching in a 5th grade classroom. Mr. Mitchell has been incredibly supportive and full of wonderful ideas to help me keep this as low-stress as possible. I love telling him all of my experiences from the day and even if he thinks they are boring or stupid, he never lets on. Far as I can tell, it's his favorite thing in the world to hear about my day with 5th graders. Anyways, I just wanted to share some of the good things with you.

These kids say hilarious things. I wrote down a few of my favorites that I thought people might find funny even if they weren't there. Here are a few of those gems:
"Why don't we just take the animals and put them in Canada? It's a big country." - Brett's solution to make drilling for oil in Alaska possible. I love his adults-over-complicate-things-thank-goodness-I'm-a-kid approach to the issue.
"I don't have acne. My face is as fresh as a baby's!" - Dillon's response to some of the things that would be discussed at the maturation assembly. Haha, let's see how long that lasts, buddy.
"Ha! I've been to WAY more countries than you!" - A.J.'s response when he asked me where I've been in the world. He is one of the smartest kids I know: he has had exposure to many, many different cultures, religions and traditions and is always aware of current events.
"It's because he's a, um, an oat, uh, an oatmeal,, a quaker! He's a quaker!" - Tyler trying to remember the religion of a character in a book he's reading and getting it confused with the Quaker Oatmeal man.
"He needs to eat a Twinkie next to balance his diet." - some random student I passed in the hallway.
"Ha! I killed the student teacher!" - Tyler after he pegged me square in the forehead with a marshmallow from his marshmallow gun. (We were reenacting battles of the Civil War.)
"Haha! I beat you to school today." "Actually, A.J., I totally beat you, but I was in a meeting." ... ... ... ... "Haha! I didn't have to go to a meeting today!" - A.J. trying to one-up me again.

There are many, many things I really dislike about being in Utah, but something I have learned I do like since being in the schools is that you can still mention God and nobody gets offended or tries to sue you, and most people are proud to be American and not ashamed of being patriotic. An example of this is what we've been doing in my class this week. We reenacted a few Civil War battles with marshmallow guns and nobody pitched a fit or called us war-mongers. We held a patriotic program (where the words 'God,' 'Creator,' and 'Lord,' were used without people pitching a fit) for the parents about the history of America and how song and dance have always been included, regardless of the era, and everybody loved it. I would actually like to share a little bit about that, too, in a bit. I love that most of these kids know who they are and where they are coming from. Too many kids, and adults, in the world do not know who they are or how their history has brought them to that point.

So, first I have to tell everybody how I'm a huge camera tard. The kids did this square dance that looked awesome and they were having so much fun it made it a blast to watch. I swear I was recording the whole thing and then when they ended I hit the button to stop recording, and that's when it began recording. Boo. I totally missed the awesome square dance. Then there's this great number they do where they sing Civil War songs where the kids are split into Union and Confederate troops. I was in the middle of recording that one when the battery died. Basically, I botched the recording job. Anyway, the point of the program is to show how song and/or dance has fit into or reflects American history since the nation's birth.

I included this video not only because these 5th graders have the preamble to the Constitution memorized (how many of you can say that?), but also because they know what it means (I repeat, how many of you can say that?). It's not meaningless words they spit out, they fully understand what they are saying, and if you ask them, they'll proudly tell you.

I included this one because I think it's great that these kids are getting dance basics that a lot of adults do not have. I am so sick of the bear-hug shuffle. You call that dancing?

I suppose all I'm really trying to say is that although my 5th grade class is a challenge I really enjoy them and the wonderful things they are doing. I also really appreciate Mr. Mitchell's support in what I am doing and the patience he has with me.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! May your day be full of green. :) Here are a couple of videos for your enjoyment.

Watch Celtic Thunder - Ireland's Call in Music  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Book Thoughts for February

Sorry if the book thing is really boring, but I always feel the need to share after I have read a book. I should probably join a book club or something. Is it required to wear funny sweaters and have a mom-do to be in a book club?

The first book I read this month was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. My mom loaned this one to me and I was not too thrilled about reading because two pages into the book I realized that the entire story was told through letter correspondence; however, the storytelling through letters was done so well I soon forgot I was reading letters and was completely engrossed in the story. The main character is endearing and the entire book is filled with humorous anecdotes. As I read further into the book I was surprised at the depth that was achieved. On the surface it is a story of a woman writer in post WWII London and her acquaintances but underneath it is a look into a life of heroism and bravery on the Channel Islands during WWII. I thought it was a delightful book.

The next book I read was The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. I read this for literacy class and fell in love with the little mouse: I wanted to take him home. I must admit I have a weakness for children's books and I was also predisposed to like this one because one of my favorite books growing up was also written by Don and Audrey Wood (King Bidgood's in the Bathtub); however, I still believe it is a genuinely cute book for children and adults. A fellow reader commented on how the story requires the reader to be a devil's advocate which is a different and fun approach to reading a children's book.

The last thing I read in its entirety this month is the February Ensign magazine. My favorite article is titled The Power of Early Preparation written by Ronald Errol Bartholomew (what a mouthful). It addresses how vital it is for parents to teach children consistently, as soon as they are in their homes, in order to prepare them to stand up to the world and stay strong in their faith. If parents focus on eternal priorities they can help their children develop a love for gospel truths which will bless them throughout their lives.

My current read is Winston & Clementine: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Churchills. It's a doozy; I have been working on it for three weeks and if it is not finished by the end of March I will flush it down the toilet.
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