I am exhasted as I write this post. My eyes are dry, and my back and feet hurt. But I am so, so happy right now.
This past weekend was filled with adventures. It was jam packed with fun and family and some great new memories.
It started out with my mom coming up to Utah to visit for a weekend. I love living in Utah, but the hardest part about it is being so far from my family in California. So when my mom decided to come up for the weekend, I was pretty excited about it.
Our Saturday started with a visit to the small farmer's market at Gardner Village. I have decided that I love farmer's markets! They are so quaint and offer such variety. Plus, my mom insisted that we support our local farmers and businesses, so we left with quite a few spoils: fresh salsa and chips, warm tamales, delicious peaches and corn on the cob, and even some tea and a cute tea infuser mug.
Next on our agenda was house hunting. Andrew and I are looking to buy a house, so we went and walked through a few in Herriman. Honestly, we were lucky enough to find a house that we are interested in, so we discussed it with our agent and put in an offer. (More information on this on a later post...especially if we get the house!)
Then we met up with Jacob, Danika, and Gus for lunch and a hike. Gus is the newest addition to the family. Honestly, if we buy a house, we are now convinced that we will also be getting a dog. We absolutely loved Gus and his puppy energy and curiosity, and both Andrew and I are hungry for a little puppy love of our own. Anyway, we drove up Guardsman Pass and took a short hike to Blood Lake. It is a dog-friendly hike and was actually quite short. We enjoyed some sandwiches and watching the dogs play in the water. I loved it and plan on returning with a dog of my own and a bathing suit next time :)
We left the hike and Andrew, my mom, and I went through Park City to get home. On the way, we stopped at the outlets and did a little back to school shopping.
And finally, after a shower and quick nap, we had a delicious dinner at Red Rock in downtown Salt Lake. It was quite the day and I felt lucky to spend it with some people I cherish deeply.
Thanks for coming to Utah, Mom! :) We love you!
Last week I was blessed to camp for a few days with the young women in my ward (church congregation).
I went to girl's camp last year, but this year was different. Last year, there were only 4 girls who came to camp; this year we had 12 girls (10 from our ward and then 2 friends). Last year I barely knew the girls since I was new to the ward; this year I already had a good basic relationship with most of the girls and I was able to really see some of those friendships strengthen. Last year it was just me and one other ward leader; this year there were 4 of us leaders, and I think that sometimes we had more fun than the girls. We laughed and sang and talked and told stories. All in all, it was a good camp.
The theme for camp this year was the first line of the Young Women's theme: "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us and we love him." Well, the stake leaders admitted that it was rather long and not very catchy, so the created a shortened version: F.L.Y.
F.L.Y. = Father Loves You!
My little sister is the best! She is now the age I was when she was born. Crazy, right?! So I haven't lived at home during most of her growing up years. Still, I feel like we are close. I love talking to her and hearing all about the ups and downs of her teenage life.
After our family vacation in Mammoth, Sarah drove to Utah with me and spent a few days with family here. First, I took her to EFY (Especially For Youth) in Provo. It was fun to visit my old stomping grounds at BYU as I dropped her off at her dorm. She had an awesome time. Seriously, after that one week, she couldn't stop talking about her inspiring counselors, new friendships, and fun adventures she had had. Thanks, EFY :)
Jacob and Danika picked her up from EFY, and then we all met that night for a little family bonfire in the mountains. We cooked up sausages and hot dogs, and then finished it all up with good ol' smores. Jake set up his hammock and tried a little spontaneous fishing in a nearby creak. It was smiles and fun until...we had an insane torrential downpore and quickly packed up and scurried to our cars. Although it was a fast finish, we definitely enjoyed our time together.
Sarah was even willing (eager, even) to help me start decorating my classroom. After a LONG trial and error stapler practice, she was finally able to help me put some cute billboards on my wall. After all our hard, I think Sarah felt a new appreciation for teachers with cute, decorated classrooms. It takes a lot of time and planning, so I am very grateful for all her help. She really is a great sister and I'm glad we were able to spend a little extra time together this summer.
Well, it has been a few weeks since my last book review. Here are the books I've read since then and my thoughts on them. Enjoy!
The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff
And, boy, did this book deliver. I gobbled it up in 2 days. The story focuses on two women who come from vastly different upbringings and experiences. Tragedy and Nazi hatred unexpectedly bring them together to perform the flying trapeze in a circus act. They form a special bond as they share their hidden pasts and sacrifice to protect each other's secrets.
I LOVED the characters in this book, especially the two main characters: Nina and Astrid. The character development was so deep and included some insightful flashbacks, key interactions with other characters, and some heart-breaking choices. Nina and Astrid became my personal friends, and I held my breath every time they were thrust into unexpected danger. I also was intrigued to learn about new parts of the Holocaust, namely the Jewish circuses that were disbanded and the railcar full of Jewish infants pulled from their families and left to die alone. Some horrifying truths, but they were masterfully pieced together and brought to light in this book.
Cinnamon Moon by Tess Hilmo
In the story, Ailis and Quinn are the only survivors of their family. They leave their home in Preshtigo and are sent to live in a boarding house in Chicago. While there, one of their new friends goes missing, and they set out to find her and bring her home.
I did like this book, but I didn't love it. I think you need to go into this book knowing that it is written for young teenagers. The plot seemed a little simplistic and didn't really captivate me. That being said, I did read the entire book in one day and I never really felt bored.
The Year We Disappeared by Cylin and John Busby
That first year after the attack was definitely stress-filled and volatile. I was really able to feel the emotions: the internal anger boiling in the father when he realized that no one was really searching for his attacker, the confusion of the daughter when she had to be followed by police everywhere and her friends stopped talking to her, the fear of the mother as she watched her children suffer and her husband have to eat through a syringe. It was a very interesting story.
In the Middle by Nancie Atwell
This is an English teaching book, and wow it really opened my eyes to the power of workshopping.
Atwell is a teacher of over 40 years and shares some insighfuls on how to work with students during their drafts. I have to admit, a lot of my responses to student writing usually is scrawled on final drafts. These time-consuming comments accompany a final grade and often go unread and unresolved. Instead, Atwell stresses having students write a lot and write often. She has personal conferences with each student on a regular basis and focuses her teaching on minilessons that can be practiced and applied immediately.
Atwell also outlines ideas of how to hold reading workshops, where students choose books that are personally interesting rather than spending time reading whole-class novels. She shares her love of using poetry as a shared text to teach students to essential reading strategies, literary vocabulary, and elements of fiction.
The second half of the book covers specific genres that Atwell teaches and includes student examples and lesson ideas.
This is definitely a book I will refer back to as I strive to improve my teaching of reading and writing. I am excited (and nervous) to try out some of her ideas in my own classroom.
Andrew and Maichael
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