Kid Books

Thanks in part to the book club I started last fall, I have started seeking out more children's books (middle reader through young adult) to read. Here are some of the books I have read recently that I recommend:

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place // Maryrose Wood

This is a book I picked up at random from the library. It is geared toward middle readers and is the first in a series. This book tells the story of a young governess as she starts her first job, caring for three children who were found in the forest on Lord Ashton's estate. I thought it was a fun read and a very creative story. I liked it enough that I also read the second book in the series. I plan to read the rest of the series as it comes out simply because I want to see all the mysteries solved.
If it were easy to resist, it would not be called chocolate cake.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children // Ransom Riggs

I couldn't resist this book when I saw the photo on the cover. I thought it was so creepy that I had to see what the story was about. This book is intended for teens and I really enjoyed it. It was mysterious, scary, and fun. In the book, 16 year old Jacob is trying to discover the secrets of his grandfather's youth and death. What he finds is a magical place full of peculiar children. The book includes vintage photos like the cover photo, some of which were a little too creepy for my tastes. Definitely an interesting sci-fi/fantasy read.
I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.

When You Reach Me // Rebecca Stead

This is another book that I chose randomly and it also turned out to be science fiction. I absolutely loved this book. It is funny and quirky, and it even made me cry by the end. This is the story of Miranda and her best friend Sal. Miranda starts receiving mysterious notes that will ultimately help her save the life of someone she loves. Read it. I don't think you'll regret it.

Trying to forget really doesn't work. In fact, it's pretty much the same as remembering. But I tried to forget anyway, and to ignore the fact that I was remembering you all the time.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret // Brian Selznick

The new movie Hugo is based on this novel. It is the story of a young orphan who lives in a train station as he works on rebuilding a mechanical man that he thinks contains a message from his dead father. The story was intriguing and the writing is interspersed with illustrations that tell parts of the story. This is definitely a great read and now I want to see the movie.

I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know, machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and types of parts they need. So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason, too.

Five Flavors of Dumb // Antony John

I just finished this book today. It is a teen novel about a deaf girl who manages a rock band. I was a bit worried about reading a book about teenagers in the middle of all that high school angst and awkwardness, but this book really surprised me with its depth. It was a fun read that explored some of the history of rock and roll, as well as some complex family relationships. It is a story of self-discovery and about not under (or over) estimating others. It had a bit of bad language, but I thought was surprisingly clean for a novel about 17 year old punk rockers.
Don’t worry about wanting to change; start worrying when you don’t feel like changing anymore. And in the meantime, enjoy every version of yourself you ever meet, because not everybody who discovers their true identity likes what they find.


Happy Birthday, Violet!

Violet has had a big month. Since Christmas, she got tubes in her ears, started walking, figured out how to drink from a sippy cup, and got her first tooth. And just last night, she slept for 10 hours straight (one of the few nights she's slept through the night)!

We had a big party for her on Saturday so that friends and family would be able to join us. Apparently I have some sort of obsession with Minnie Mouse (according to Dave), but once I had the idea for a Minnie Mouse birthday, I didn't want to do anything else. So I made a Minnie Mouse cake and we got Violet a giant Minnie balloon, which she loves. I also gave her a Minnie toy, which Eddie loves.

The cake turned out okay considering that I tried something new. Instead of just using normal frosting to draw and fill the design, I used Sugar Sheets, which are sheets of paper made out of frosting that you can cut out and stick on the cake. I also made Violet a little #1 smash cake that was all for her. And she methodically devoured the whole thing, plus some.

Violet shredded tissue paper while all the other kids opened her presents for her. Thanks to all who came!

This morning, I took Violet in for her check-up. She is getting tall and skinny, weighing in at 21.5 pounds (61st percentile) and measuring 31 inches (97th percentile). No wonder she's wearing 24 month size clothes! She was quite feisty when the doctor did the exam. Violet has a deep-rooted loathing for the stethoscope. But she was even more angry when she had to get 3 shots. Hopefully after our follow-up with the ENT on Wednesday, we can avoid doctors for a while so she'll forget that she hates them.

The last year has had some big challenges, but I am happy to say that Violet was not one of them. She is a sweet and happy girl and we wouldn't trade her for anything! Happy Birthday, Violet!


Cinematic Utah: Exotic Locales

Previously: Journey to Ancient Egypt

Today I've got an assortment of theater photos that have been piling up since last summer. This latest group took me to such exotic locales as Ephraim, Coalville, and Parowan.

Towne Theatre // Ephraim // 7.22.11

Loma Theatre (aka Neena's Market) // Coalville // 9.4.11

Quick tangent... Our trip out to Coalville was shaping up to be a disappointment when I discovered the Loma Theatre had been converted into a nondescript Mexican market. But at least there was a row of cool old buildings across the street to placate me. Plus, the next time we are passing through Coalville in need of "merchandise of highest quality," we'll know that the Summit Merc carries everything. Back to the theaters...

Electric Theatre // St. George // 10.8.11

Aladdin Theatre // Parowan // 10.9.11


Being Kristen

Since my diagnosis with postpartum depression (detailed here), I have been working to improve my emotional and mental health. One of the main things I have been trying to do is rediscover myself and be comfortable with what I find. As a way to update everyone on my progress, I thought I'd post some of the things I have learned about myself. They are pretty random, but sometimes I am like that.

Things I Hate

I absolutely hate when people assume they know what my opinions are. This bothers me most when people think that I share their political opinions. I'm not a particularly political person, and I generally keep those opinions that I do have to myself. I have learned over the last few years that I am much more liberal than many people I know. So it irritates me when others tell me their opinions with the assumption that I agree. It makes for awkward conversations. I really hate awkward conversations.

Being Told How to Feel
I am currently reading Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by Dr. John Gottman. I chose this book to help me better understand and manage Eddie's emotions, but it has helped me understand myself, too. One of the main things Dr. Gottman writes about is not trivializing a person's emotions. The feelings are not the bad thing, it is how a person behaves when they feel a certain way that can be inappropriate. So when people tell me I should not worry or I should relax, it really frustrates me. I am learning to manage my emotional reactions, not to stifle my true feelings. I am not afraid of emotion and allowing myself to feel my feelings gives me time to work through them and let go of what I need to let go of.

Postpartum depression brings a lot of guilt with it. As I began my treatment, I felt guilty about how I had been feeling, how I had been acting, that I had waited so long to get help, that I needed help in the first place, that I wasn't living up to everyone's expectations, etc. But I have learned that guilt is not a productive emotion. Guilt is something you stew in, only making things worse.

Things I Love

I recently signed up for a yoga class and after only one session, I was reminded of why I am so drawn to yoga. Yoga is all about balance, which is what I am always striving for within myself. Yoga practice is the one time that I can focus completely on myself. As selfish as that sounds, I have learned that making time for myself helps me be a better wife and mother.

I have always been a creative person and now that I have learned to sew, it has become a great creative outlet. I love that it is hands-on, that it takes some skill, and that it is productive. I love being able to see a final product and be proud of what I have made.

Being a Mother
One of the biggest problems I had before I started my treatment for depression was that I was overwhelmed by my kids and kept withdrawing. Depression, at least for me, filled me with conflict between what I thought I wanted to do and what I knew I should do. As I've been feeling better, I have remembered that being a mother is one of the best things in my life and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love watching Eddie and Violet grow and learn new things. I want them to be able to count on me no matter what.

When I married Dave, I had no idea how perfect he was for me. Obviously I thought he was pretty great, but over the years, I have learned over and over again that choosing him was the best choice I ever made. He is calm, sensible, and reasonable to counteract my craziness. I cannot imagine anyone whose personality would complement mine better. I truly believe we were made for each other.

Even at our wedding, it was obvious we were perfect for each other.


2012 Coming Attractions

This is the movie year I have been waiting for. I give you some of my most anticipated releases of 2012.

The Hunger Games // March 23

If the first full trailer is to be trusted, The Hunger Games' adaptation from page to screen looks to be a smooth one. (And really, when has a two-minute preview ever steered us wrong before?) Of course with limited footage of inside the arena, it's still anyone's guess how they will pull off some of the book's more graphic violence within the constraints of a PG-13 rating.

The Avengers // May 4

Heaven knows there has been enough set up for this one. Samuel L. Jackson has been making post-credit cameos to pimp the Marvel team up flick since way back in 2008. Heck, I half expected Jackson's Nick Fury to show up at the end of Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol to recruit Ethan Hunt.

Dark Shadows // May 11
Frankenweenie // October 5

After the utterly futterwackened Alice in Wonderland, I finally admitted to myself that Tim Burton has been on cruise control for most of the last decade. The quirky director seems to have abandoned originality all together in favor of remaking existing properties with a Burton twist (aka casting Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter). So what does Burton have in store this year to wash away the stink of Alice? Well, first there's an adaptation of a '60s TV show, then a stop motion remake of one of Burton's own short films. Sigh. At least Depp or Carter won't be in Frankenweenie.

The Amazing Spider-Man // July 3

Even if I'm not particularly interested in seeing Spidey's origin story regurgitated (sorry, rebooted), I am mildly curious to see a fresh take on the franchise. Of course no Tobey "Crapping Bricks" Maguire or Kirsten "Dead Eyes" Dunst means Kristen will probably be first in line.

The Dark Knight Rises // July 20

This is the big one. I'll likely have plenty more to say about Rises before July 20th. In the meantime, here's an email exchange I had with my buddy Ben after the first full trailer was released last month:

Ben: Overall the trailer rocked… This has the makings of Rocky III—Batman gets beat up, then has to recover and come back and fight to win the title back. Yup, just like Rocky III.

Dave: Let's hope it features an "Eye of the Tiger" training montage. Or that it ends with a behind closed doors Batman/Bane rematch. Freeze frame!

Ben: And in Batman 4, Bane and Batman are besties until someone kills Bane (must be a foreigner), then Batman vows revenge and fights him on Christmas Day!

Dave: Instead of a Russian it would have to be Al-Qaeda. But you had better believe those terrorists will be chanting for USA by the end. "If I can change, and you can change... everybody can change!"

Your move, Warner Brothers.

Skyfall // November 9

James Bond has endured everything from three-nippled sharpshooters to laser battles in space, but it was the financial woes of MGM Studios that nearly torpedoed the venerable super spy's 50 year reign. Now that MGM has emerged from bankruptcy, 007 can finally put away his terry cloth man romper and get back to saving the world. With Daniel Craig fully entrenched in the role and flanked by a great cast and crew, I have high hopes that Skyfall will be counted among the From Russia With Loves and Casino Royales of the franchise, and not the Moonrakers or Die Another Days.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey // Dec 14

After his epic Lord of the Rings trilogy dominated the early 2000s and quickly became modern classics, director Peter Jackson has done little of note since (unless you count stretching his King Kong remake from a possibly great two hour movie into an unbearable three hour movie). Now he is returning to his old stomping grounds a decade later to direct a pair of prequels. Okay, here's what you do, PJ. Get George Lucas on the phone. Ask for any and all advice he's willing to give. Then do the opposite.