Saturday, 31 January 2009

Wild Swans by Jung Chang

I've had it. It isn't very often that I give up on a book - especially one for book club. But I've decided I've had it with Wild Swans. Here's a simple synopsis of the book:

Three generations of Chinese womanhood survive the reign of the warlords, Japanese occupation, the Kuomintang, the Cultural Revolution and, finally, a writer’s exile. This century-spanning brick of a book is biography staged as novelism: related with unsparing candour, it’s horrible, evocative, engrossing and still banned in China.

It's really's horrible, evocative and engrossing.

But the whole time I've been reading it (which has been months by the way....I can only take so much of it at a time) I've been thinking, 'man, does she really have to get into so much detail?' I have a hard time keeping track of the names of relatives and friends and cities. I have found the story to be a little depressing and can only read it in short spurts. I was chatting with a book club friend about it and she mentioned she loved the book and thought it was cute. I really don't get where it becomes cute. I am in awe of the things they go through and of the dedication they have to their country (misplaced dedication if you ask me). But last night did me in. I was reading about how the author went to help her aunt that was not well. She had all sorts of health challenges - one of which was constipation. The author described all her ailments and how she tried to help her - including sticking her finger up her anus.

That was when I decided I'd had enough. Way too much detail! I have a big pile of books that have been waiting for me to jump into and I'm going to stop spending my time on this one. I'm glad I read what I did. I am stunned at the things these people have gone through and I have a new respect and curiousity for the Chinese people that I rub shoulders with.

.....I just think there was WAY to much detail in this book! LOL

There's a great summary here....the blogger gives you a much more positive perspective of the book than I can. I can't really decide if I recommend the book or not. If you are a fast reader and have a lot of time to kill, well go for it. There's plenty of interesting history there.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Sacred Leaf by Deborah Ellis

Another great Deborah Ellis book! Last month for our Parent/Child book club at the library we read I Am a Taxi by Deborah Ellis. We had voted to do another book this month but after reading I Am A Taxi and learning that there is a second book someone suggested we do it instead. I think our book club is getting a little obsessed about Deborah Ellis books. That's okay with me! They're amazing books.

This story is the continuation of Diego's story. At the end of the last book he escapes from a cocaine operation where he has been turned into a slave. He finds the Ricardo family who are kind to him and take him in. The Ricardos are poor farmers that grow coca. However, the American government is paying the Bolivian army to destroy coca crops. The farmers decide to band together and fight the armies that are taking their crops away from them. The book is an interesting glimpse into what is like for these people when a country hundreds of miles away is controlling their future and causing great hardship.

Monday, 26 January 2009

FHE Lesson - Goals

I wanted to do a FHE early in January on goals...but it never worked out. Yesterday in church one of the speakers talked about goals. It was a great talk, and great timing! I was reminded of the goals I was so excited about at the beginning of January. So I decided to take that and use the same idea for FHE. Tonight we made goal sheet collages. We cut out pictures from magazines that represented our goals and each of us had a big sheet of paper to make our own goal sheet. The kids loved it. Now we have our goals for this year up in our bedrooms. Here's to New Year's Resolutions!

....which reminds me, we were in an article in the Calgary Herald this month! I've come to know someone that writes for the Herald and she used us for an article. :0) Enjoy!

It's time for new resolutions
By Karen Rudolph Durrie, For Neighbours January 8, 2009

For some, making New Year's resolutions instills a sense of dread.

The turning of the calendar acts as a reminder of a laundry list of failures strewn across the past year, and the coming year represents a fresh slate that might just go the same way.

You didn't lose the weight, you still bite your nails, your kids still spent too much time playing video games and 15 years' worth of accumulated clutter still teeters in boxes in your basement.

This year, why not approach resolutions with a new sense of resolve?Make them, but go easy on yourself.
Despite their bad rap for being quickly broken, research has shown that those who make New Year's resolutions are 10 times more likely to succeed in making changes than those who don't.

Psychologist John Norcross, co-author of Changing for Good:A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Over-coming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward says more than 40 per cent of people, make New Year's resolutions will be successful.

And one way to succeed is to drop the grandiose goals and concentrate on realistic, attainable ones that include an action plan.

That's what Laurie McKendry, 38, of Langdon plans to do this year.

After years of making and breaking the typical resolutions like losing weight and becoming more organized, she is taking a new approach this year.

"I've come to realize that while I have two small children, I am never going to become completely organized, and our house is not going to look like a show-home. My resolution this year is to be happier with who I am, and to somehow find a little more me time," McKendry says.

An avid follower of "FLYLady", aka Marla Cilley (,whose baby-steps approach to home-organization and goal-setting tips include things like decluttering for 15 minutes each morning, McKendry firmly believes she needs to adhere to one of the main principles of the philosophy of FLY-- which stands for finally loving yourself. "I am overweight and need to accept myself for who I am. I am not going to be a size zero, and only once I accept that maybe things will start to change."

McKendry plans to relax about the state of her home and not sweat the smudges on the walls or the toys on the floor.

She also plans to reclaim some of the joy she got from spending time doing things just for her, including, belly dancing and aquasize classes and enlisting the help of relatives to look after her kids.

"I need to learn to pencil it in like an appointment, and do it,"McKendry says.

Indeed, writing things down is a hall-mark of those who are most successful, Norcross says. Tracking progress by charting or recording changed behaviour has shown to increase the probability of sticking to resolutions.

Keeping track of daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals has been an incentive to spur on many of Dawn Ackroyd's achievements.

"It's interesting to me when I come across old goal sheets. I often find I've accomplished things without even realizing it,"Ackroyd says.

Then there are those that keep reappearing each year.

"I keep the ones that are important to me, because I have hope that some day I will accomplish those things,"Ackroyd says.

Therefore, though she may be one of the many who has resolved to lose weight "about since I was 12," she laughs, she has faith she will do it one day.

Meanwhile, she sets numerous small spiritual and emotional goals for the year, and revisits them monthly.
For 2008, one of Ackroyd's successful resolutions was to make a better effort to keep in touch with her husband's large family. She spent more time with the ones who lived close, and called or mailed the ones who were further away. Journaling her activities helped her track how long it had been since she had seen or corresponded with people.

Her goal-setting mentality has also rubbed off on her children Jill, 10 and Peirce, 6.

"Jill's big goal is to go to the Olympics in swimming. She is in swim club, and sometimes she just doesn't want to go to a meet or a practice, and we will say, 'OK, and you don't have to go to the Olympics, either,' and she will go," Ackroyd says.

At five, Peirce made three resolutions and accomplished each one: to make cookies, to be in a play and to become a better swimmer.

This year, Ackroyd's goals include setting an exercising schedule and to read the entire Bible.
"If I don't set goals, I find that lives take over, and kids and family take over, and if I don't decide there are some things that I want to accomplish for my-self, it is easy to lose yourself."

Losing himself is perhaps part of the reason why 43-year-old Kelly Proctor, a field service supervisor in the oil patch, has found himself setting some important goals for 2009.

Recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, Proctor instantly began to make changes to his lifestyle and eating habits.

Vowing to lose 50 pounds in the next year, Proctor has already analyzed why he's experiencing health issues and decided his life-on-the-road existence involving a lot of fast food and getting from point A to point B by driving there had to change.

"I am making time out for me instead of going for fast food. I will order off a menu, sit down and have a dinner."

He has also quit smoking with the aid of Champex, a smoking cessation medication, and his mood has improved.

His lifestyle changes have also had a positive effect on his family. His wife has cut back on fast food,--"We haven't bought McDonald's in over six weeks,"-- they've stopped buying pop, and she has started a binder of chef Rachel Ray's simple, family-friendly recipes.

Cultivating support from family and friends is another tool Norcross says helps reinforce success.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Dewey: The Smalltown Library Cat Who Touched The World by Vicki Myron

I was hesitant to read this book. It isn't that I don't like animals - I'm just not a huge fan and I really am not impressed with people's sentimentalism over pets. This book, however, slowly reeled me in. The author was magnificent at recognizing the beautiful ways that Dewey touched people's lives. Dewey is a cat that was found one winter morning after someone had put him in the return chute at the library (who knew people put other stuff in the return book chute!) The librarian warms him up and cares for him and he eventually takes up residence in the library. The author share stories about how Dewey Readmore Books (that's what the cat eventually is named) touches people's lives. It isn't in some amazing way - it's just the little things that all add up into something extraordinary. Along the way Dewey garners a lot of attention and becomes famous around the world. The interesting thing is it is a true story! Just two years ago Dewey died. After his death the author, Vicki, who is also the librarian, puts together the story of Dewey in book form.

You've got to read it. It's really touching! I still can't say I'm an animal lover - but I admire the author's ability to tell this cat's story!

President Obama...the first....???

Peirce: Mom, I know who the President is now.

Me: Who?

Peirce: Barak Obama...and he's the first something...I think the first French guy to be President

Monday, 19 January 2009

Articles of Faith FHE

I bought one of those books finally with a bunch of pre-made FHE lessons. We used one tonight - and it was GREAT!! It was quick to prepare, looked cute, and was fun!

First we played a game where we had to say the Article of Faith for whichever square we landed on.

Peirce was in charge of treats so after school he and I made sugar cookies. We numbered them 1 to 13 and before you could eat one you had to say the Article of Faith. I found later wen I snuck a couple cookies I only could let myself take the ones that had a number that I knew for sure I could repeat that article of faith.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Funny Boy

Sometimes don't you wonder how kids miss some of the things they do? Or how is it you assume they know something when they don't. Today at dinner Peirce said, "Mom you know what's weird? The prophet REALLY looks like President Monson."

Saturday, 17 January 2009

STOMP Out Loud!

Tonight Jill and I went to STOMP. I really really wanted to take Jill but figured the tickets were too expensive. So my plan was to win some. Ya. Didn't work. So today Allen came home with tickets for us! What a guy!!

It made me cry.

I may never listen to sound the same again. UN-damn-believable!!

This was one of the numbers they did:

This was what they started with:

I seriously can't even explain how amazing it was. If you can go to STOMP you have to go!

Best Time Swim Meet

Today Jill had a swim meet in High River. It was a great day for her. She beat her time in 50 metre freestyle, then beat her best time in 50 metre backstroke, and then yet again in 50 metre breast stroke. The last one was 100 metre IM....she might have beat her time in that one except that she totally missed the race. Not sure if she was reading or eating or what she was doing but she sure didn't hear the lady doing the marshalling that called her name. Well, there's always something new to learn at every swim meet!

Today In History!

I seem to hear from a lot of people that kind of poo poo the new President of the states...however, I'm excited about him. History in the making!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

So Many Good Memories

I think it was Dr Phil that talked about how we all have a small number of pivotal moments in our lives and a few people that had a special impact. One of my missionary companions, Barbara Gibb, was one of those people in my life!

On Friday I got an email from Sister Gibb. She's from Utah, now lives in California, and has relatives here. One of her uncles passed away and she emailed to say she was coming up for the funeral. I picked her up late Saturday night. It was so fun to go to the airport and to see her! It's been 20 years since I left on my mission (I can't believe that!) but in many ways it seems like yesterday. She said I looked the same and I figured she looked the same too - until we got looking at my photo album and realized how much we've changed! It was fun to visit with her and learn about each other's husbands and children and the things we're each pursuing. She came to church with us on Sunday. I felt like we should go teach a YW lesson together or something! Funny how strong the pull is to roles we had!

Sister Gibb was my second companion. I had been out a month and got tranferred to a new area and asked to train. I always felt like we were training each other more than me being the one sharing wisdom. We were both new missionaries and didn't know to do anything other than what we'd been asked to do.

I learned so much when we served together! Here are a few things that come to mind right away:

* You don't have to do anything really above and beyond to be incredibly blessed....just have simple discipline and simply work. When we were companions we did what we were asked to do. We tracted what the mission president said we should tract. We approached missionary work the way he said to do it. We got up on time. We went to bed on time. We worked every day....and we had amazing success.

* I learned to trust myself in following the spirit. I remember one day teaching a discussion to Sonia. She was interested. She was sincere. But she just wasn't getting it. Finally Sister Gibb embarked on a topic that was not in the prescribed discussions. I had been thinking we should talk about the same thing, but didn't suggest it because it just didn't make sense. We didn't discuss it ahead of time - she just started in on the topic while we were teaching - and suddenly everything came together for Sonia. She didn't get baptized when we were there and I didn't hear of her getting baptized later - but I learned a lot about following the spirit while we taught Sonia.

* I learned that miracles can happen. For a while it seemed like we worked and worked and worked and nothing seemed to bring results. Following the advise of our District Leader we decided to pray that people that were prepared would find us....and that next Sunday Belinda came to church. It turned out it was a weekend where we weren't at that building (Stake Conference or General Conference or something like that) but a clerk had showed up to the building to do some work. Belinda came in and asked if she could just sit in the chapel and pray. He invited her in and left her to pray. He also got her number and passed the information along to us - and in no time Belinda was baptized.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Time to Back Blog?

I have so much I've neglected to write about on our blog! I will try to do some "back-blogging" this week to catch up!