DISCLAIMER: This is going to be like testimony meeting, only ultra, uber longer, and way funnier. Probably the same on the spiritual enrichment level though :P Oh, and because of the length, it's not super edited either. Forgive me...

When I left my house on Tuesday, I left 3 feet of snow and temperatures around Zero. Eee. I'm going to die when I get back. Because the weather tomorrow... the HIGH is going to -6. NEGATIVE SIX. Death. Anyway,

December 17th, 2008 - Wednesday
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The morning started off on Cuz Kelsey's couch where I was woken up by her husband, then by someone's phone, then the older girls on their way to school, then the other kids when they got up, and finally by Kels herself. Awesome. Needless to say, I ='d tired. We got on the road and got some "Milky Ways" (read: hot chocolate with caramel...now sporting the ripped off name of a candy bar) and went to Wally World, because genius (read: yours truly) forgot his ipod cable (read: breath of life).

A new one only ran me TWENTY BUCKS. X.x GAH $20 bones, and at the Wally World no less. ABSURD.

Then we went to the Aeropuerto where my bag was overweight so I took SEGA Games out and stuffed them in my tiny, very thin duffel which was supposed to be for my shoes. When the lady took it and put it on the belt it "clattered."

Lady: "What was that?"
Me: "What was what?"
Lady: "What was in that bag?"
Me: "That one you just took?"
Lady: "Yeah, the one that just all kinds of clattered when I put it down."
Me: "Oh, those are just video game cartridges."

Oops. Hope they all still work...but I had no choice. I wasn't about to put anything valuable in that bag. Like clothes. And besides I didn't put any of the GOOD games in the other bag. Only the lamesauce ones.

Then it was time for security. I slightly miss the days of getting searched on every single flight because my retro-punk look raised eyebrows and apparently made me into a quasi-terrorist; but only slightly. BEEP BEEP! "Bag Search!" X.x Aweeeeesome. I was instantly thrust back to last Christmas' fiasco when I tried -inadvertently- to take a large KNIFE onto the plane with me in my carry-on. Epic Oops. (Those of you who know this story know how amazingly hilarious it really is).

So as we made our way over to the area, I joked, "Well, wonder what I brought this time that I'm not allowed..." Then immediately wished I hadn't said anything; I betrayed far too much in that fleeting instant. So she got down to digging through my bag and then she pulled out one of my TBs, a shiny metal toy car I was bringing along and declared that to be the perpetrator. Apparently shiny metal toy cars don't scan very well. ^^; At least it wasn't anything illegal, just a TB. I explained to her why I had the car and about Geocaching, and she was intrigued; even wrote down the website in her little travel book. When she let me go, she told me for my other flights to just pull it out and put it in one of the bins and I'd be fine.

And onward. I got on my plane, and we flew away. Whee. Then we landed in Salt Lake City. Wait, what? I thought I was going to Chicago. Can I rant for a moment? I am so incredibly annoyed with airlines and their dastardly, rip-you-off-at-every-turn, abominable service/business. Why don't you tell me everywhere I'm flying? If my ticket says I'm going to Chicago straight-on, then do it. Don't GO to Salt Lake. I mean, what if I'm like allergic to the air there or something and purposely selected my ticket for its non-going-to-Salt-Lake nature? Just saying...end rant. So we land in Salt Lake and I'm thinking, I wonder if I'll see anyone I know. I flew from Boise to Chicago in the back of the plane and then when we landed moved to the third row. Well I'm sitting there waiting for someone to take these two seats so I can have the aisle. I'm glancing up at the people coming on, and I catch of glimpse of what look to be familiar sideburns. I crane my head, "Brock?"

IT TOTALLY WAS! [insert squealing noises here] Brock = My former MTC Companion, and one of my favorite people, ever, ever. I mean I have BEST friends, and Brock still beats them all (sorry to all who are not Brock). So we have a quaint little freak-out session and then settled in. Brock wanted the window and so I moved into the middle seat and some guy sat in the aisle. Well then the middle seat filled in front of us with a trying-to-hard-to-be-cute upstart of a girl, who insisted on reclining her seat alllllllll the way back, and then was perturbed by the fact that my knees were sticking into her spine. Do I have long legs? Last time I check I do. She totally even tried looking back like four times, and finally even had the audacity to ask, "Are those...like your knees?" No, it's a saber I'm thrusting purposely into your spinal column because I take pleasure in your discomfort. "Yes, they are." And if you didn't insist on trying to put your butt in my face then there wouldn't be as much of a problem. So I kept my knees shoved as far into her back as they would go. For the whole THREE hour flight. Just because she was a jerk.

Brock and I chatted about everything, and then I watched him lose horrifically at his bouncing inflatable car game complete with moving walkways and columns. His Cube Runner game was a little more entertaining, especially when he was doing really well at being calm and adjusted, and taking the turns in stride, and then would clip a block and explode. Sucker.

That flight ended way too soon and I had to part ways with Brock, but then I got to meet Bry!! And boyfriend Erik. Bry is a friend from like 2002 and we met, of all places, over the internet (we wrote together in a Digimon RPG), which Erik made fun of us for, but I have now confessed it, so whatever. So after 6 long years I finally got to meet her face to face. When I expressed my elation to Brock he insisted it was creepy and I would be in jail before the night was out - rofl. Bry and poor dragged-along Erik were lost in traffic, but finally made it, then refused to try and brave traffic and we parked in the parking garage. Hilarity/fun ensued as we sat and just chatted for the next hour plus. Erik continually prompted Bry about her not-preplanned-prompts which she was supposedly to have put together and brought up a number of subjects that were to be avoided. Anyway, it ended up being super fun and comfortably casual, and I did not get arrested. I was super grateful to Bry AND Erik (for driving) knowing how far they'd come just to spend time with little me.

After that I went back in, back through security (this time no problem since I took out the car), and got a bite since I was famished. Some more waiting, and then a plane to Orlando. At this point I finished devouring The Road, so here's my thoughts: The Road - Overall Grade: A+. This book is incredible. Add to your "must read list" at once. I loved it! It was engaging, heart-wrenching, hopeful, and just plain great fiction. I won't say anything else because I so strongly recommend it; don't want to ruin anything. I had planned for the book to last me my whole break, but it didn't even make it all the way to Florida. Oops.

I eventually landed in Orlando, and got down to bag claim, where we waited forever for our luggage. Poppers and Ry finally found me (that kid is getting tall, so goes our family genes) and then we realized that the airport was stupid and our bags weren't even on that claim like they said. On the drive home, I needed to stop at a Wally World and get some conditioner (I'd been out for like 4 days - talk about a FASHION/HAIR CRISIS!). We finally got home I think at like I dunno, 1am?

December 18th, 2008 - Thursday
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That night sleep just failed. The room I was put up in was HOT. Florida was HOT. But if turned the ceiling fan on anything more than low it clicked, and we all know how I do with noises during sleeping. NO. I searched the house (quietly) for a fan, even looked in the attic, and found nothing. Finally around 2am I moved out into the family room, threw the ceiling fan on full, and slept on the blue couch (which is where I slept anytime I lived here in the past, though it didn't used to be in the family room).

Unfortunately my dad got up at 6am, and thus ended my sleep. AGH. In his defense, he TRIED to be quiet, but as soon as his feet were on the kitchen stones, I heard them and thus ended sleep. I drug myself up, exhausted, and got to play parent for most of the day. I drove Ryan to school, then my dad went to work and my mom went to Leesburg to help her ailing parents. At 9:30 I got 'Stas up for school. She's home schooled, and so I got to play teacher. Yay. We did Science, and social studies, and maybe something else, then it was time for P.E. I got my skateboard out, and a basketball and we headed to the front of the neighborhood. I made my sister run while I skated (AND dribbled at the same time, I'm freaking talented y'all) because 1) she needs the exercise, and 2) she has become slightly overweight so see 1). Then we played basketball/soccer/teach Anastasia how to skateboard/I'll give you $100 if you can kick the ball into the hoop. After that we went home and I was hot so I jumped in the pool, which was FREEZING! But it got me unsweaty. 'Stas and I joked around and I threatened to pull her in, then I showered and cleaned up. After that I just chilled while 'Stas did more school, and wrote out some card games for my grandmother who is dead-set on playing every possible Freecell variation possible before she kicks it, but she's pretty much blind so she can't see them on the computer anymore so my mom has been writing them out on giant pieces of paper so she can play with her oversize-for-blind-grandmas playing cards. When my mom got home I drove my other sis to driving school, then went to go pick up Ryan from school, and had to wait forever. When he finally got out, he just stood there and looked at me -direct eye contact- like 5 times and didn't come to the car. Finally he came, and claimed that he didn't recognize me. X.x It had been like ten minutes, so now I was ticked.

When we got home I had to turn around minutes later and pick my sister up from driving school. Ridiculous. After that we had dinner, and I tried to start a potato fight with my little sister, and my mom said she wasn't too old to turn me over her knee and then proceeded to try and it was freaking hilarious.

Then it was time for Ryan's Band Concert (he originally played the clarinet in emulation of his big bro, then switched to Sax because it was deemed cooler). The whole family went, even J. Mom brought Starburst Candy Canes for us to enjoy, but hadn't planned on my powers of persuasion in getting J, so I gave him mine and had a little piece. We pretty much didn't pay attention at all during the concert, except when Ry had his solo in Jazz Band on the James Bond Theme, and then I totally whistled like it was a Baseball game. Heh. My parents even separated me and 'Stas at one point. I'm such a kid. And the thing is, I LOVE IT. I tried to get my mom to recognize that we as a family, love having fun, but I'm pretty sure she still just thinks we're all immature.

After the concert I was going to hang with Lil Bro (my fave) but 1) I was super super tired and 2) I still had to pack for my trip to Ohio. I threw stuff together in a bag, and was set. My mom was trying to put together a care package for her friend in Ohio, since she couldn't come with me, and wanted to make her a cd. But we couldn't figure out how to make the cd burn. I tinkered, and toyed, and tried every trick I could think of, and nothing. Ry kept saying he had an idea, and my mom insisted he try, and I lost it. I was adamant that if I couldn't do it, there was no way a 12-year old could. I know some pretty amazing tricks computer-wise. And I don't care how smart Ry is, I knew he didn't know how to do it. I was tired, and cranky, and his idea was a waste of time. So I uncaged the beast. The anger emerged. Cd be damned, let the package be incomplete, let the kid waste time, screw everyone. I stormed into my room, slammed the door, and just tried to sleep, while the anger swirled and raged inside me. I told myself that I should just get over it, that it was ridiculous, that maybe he could, but no, I was already angry. Some time much later, I drifted away.

December 19th, 2008 - Friday
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Up early. And off to the airport. Goodbye family. Pops came in with me just for kicks, but I was fine. Checked in, securitied, and waited. I stole a book from J since he had like 20 from the library, and I had nothing to read. Plane ride was uneventful. Layover in Charlotte where I bought some cards for Erynn (just like whenever I go somewhere she hasn't because she's collecting cards from all 50 states and I love helping), then got on my next plane. This ride was much more interesting. Smaller plane, worse crew. Second rant. Okay, when I pay you GOOD money to get a seat on this stupid machine, I'm not okay with you charging me extra. Not for bags, and especially not for drinks. $2 for a soda? Are you SERIOUS? Anyway, the flight attendants were snotty. On our descent into Ohio, we totally hit turbulence and they were in the cabin collecting trash. And they HIT the floor. Hard. And I didn't feel bad (because I am evil). And two seconds after they went sprawling the captain had the gall to buzz over the com: "Flight Attendants, please take your seats." And then I laughed. Out loud (because I am really evil).

When I got to Ohio Christi met me with little Jessie and we waited for my bag. I stood there waiting patiently, and informed them that my bag was BLUE. We waited. And waited. And waited. And then one of the workers said something about us waiting after he pulled off like 5 bags. I looked at the bags and pointed, saying, "It's blue. Kinda like that green one over there." Wait. X.X It WAS the green one, lol. The blue one I had tried packing and not everything fit, so I'd switched to the green and then mixed the two in my mind to make one that was big AND blue. Oops.

After we recovered my GREEN bag, we decided we wanted food and went to get some. We stopped at Subway where I used to work forevers ago and I left a note for Wendy (who STILL owns it! Awesome!) I got me a roasted chicken with bacon because MY Subway still has A1 sauce which makes them wonderful. After that we drove over to City Hall to deliver the care package from my Mom. Her friend commented that I was all grown up (Reminder: I have not been in Ohio for 7+ years for most of these people, 3 if we're being technical). I gave her the package, told her that my mom had wanted to come and was sorry she couldn't, wished her Merry Christmas and started to say goodbye. She was totally moved emotionally and when I went to hug her goodbye, she told me to hug my mom until it hurt and then gave me a kiss. My heart went out to her in her time of struggle, but I knew there was nothing else I could do since I didn't know the story/situation.

Then I asked Christi to take me to the High School. Oh Reynoldsburg High. How I so-close-to-almost-but-just-not-quite miss you. When we were signing in, I had this conversation with the burly security guard:

Guard: "Who are you here to see?"
Me: "Tina B."
Guard: "Tina B?"
Me: "Yes, Tina B." Did I stutter?
Guard: "Bev B?"
Me: "Okay, yes."

Tina, my favorite Spanish Teacher ever, had retired. Sadness unreserved. We saw Bev instead, who taught next door and also knew me. Her door was closed when we walked up, so I went to Hma. Myer's room first. She looked up, it took her a minute, then she totally said, "Oh. My. Gosh." She couldn't believe it. I couldn't either. She remembered me, though I'd never taken a class from her. But I was the Little Spanish Helper Guru and had organized their supply room. I asked Hma. M if she remembered playing that game on the computer with the kids who threw snowballs, and she scoffed, said yes, then added, "The things we remember, huh?" Indeed. She was delighted to see us, and gave me Tina's number so that was good. We chatted for a bit, I told where I was, what I was up to, etc. Then we slipped over to the Theatre Dept. to check up on Doreen and Smitty. I waved hello, and Doreen just stared, not recognizing the luscious curls I was sporting (in her defense she wasn't wearing her glasses), then came over and read my name. Then she laughed so hard she had to go around the corner. Apparently they had JUST been talking about me. About ME. Really? I'm not going to oppose that. So it turns out they were discussing what a saint I was because of their shortage of guys in the ancient past; then David, bless his soul, joined the program, and I was the saving grace, and the herald, and the beginning of guy-thora (read: guys + plethora) for 7 years. And now, it was ending again. They were going to have a shortage again, and they were remembering and wanting another me. Hey, that's great. I'll take what remembrance I can get. Smitty looked INCREDIBLE. He must have lost, I don't even, 100+ pounds. I almost didn't recognize him, he looked that amazing. It was a good visit. Doreen even gave me a tour of the updated space. And they do EIGHT shows a year now! When I was in Performing Arts, we did like TWO. Plus the Senior show. So THREE. EIGHT? Unbelievable.

Then we decided to run over to the Junior High and visit more teachers. Because I love my 8th grade teachers. We went to the Office and said we were here to visit.

Wary Lady: "Who?"
Me: "Mrs. Gwaz."
W.L.: "She's no longer here."
Me: "What?"
W.L.: "She retired."
Me: *not believing* "Okay, Scheetz."
W.L.: "Retired."

Repeat 10+ times. Gone. All gone. They are ALL retired (except Mr. Brown who I had for 7th grade Ohio History and World Geography, and who happened to be standing right at the front desk with us, oops. Too bad he didn't really leave a lasting impression, eh?) Christi and I just stared at each other. It's just MIND-BOGGLING. Every last one of my teachers has RETIRED? Wah, I'm old. :( My 5th grade teacher still taught, but not there anymore. Apparently in my absence they built 3 new schools, one being a junior high. Wow, talk about Suburban growth much? So we went over there, but we were too late. It was Friday of the beginning of winter break, almost 3:45pm, and all the teachers had fled. So we left a note for Mrs. Friece, who I had in 5th grade, and one of the custodians put it in her room for us. Then just for kicks, we whisked over to French Run Elementary where I went 3rd-5th (though 5th is no longer housed there). ALL the teachers there are long gone, but we walked the halls anyway and reminisced. This teacher used to be here. And that teacher there. And that's where we had art. And look how TINY the playground is now, that used to be so big. It was melancholy, and bittersweet. But good.

After that we stopped by Jeff W's house just since he was right there. I haven't seen him in 7years, and he was back from Germany. After knocking for like 5 minutes, his mom finally came to the door (and didn't look like she'd aged a DAY), said she was in a music lesson, and Jeff had gone to California to visit. Boo. Quick stop at the library then Christi showed me places where nothing is the same. Fields and farms, or small houses now sprawling commerce areas, with new stores, new roads, etc. It was insane. My little boyhood town has exploded. We drove by my old house and I pointed out as many houses and the people who'd lived there as I could remember, but it was nothing like the prowess of my dad.

When we drove by the neighborhood where I spent the older years of my growing up, I had strong urges to go dig up the sandbox once more for old time sake and see if there were any G.I.Joes long buried still there. I also wanted to go knock on the door and say, "Hey I used to live here, could I possibly come in for a second and see my old room," but we opted not to since that would have been quite awkward, not to mention slightly intrusive on the people whose lives are now built into that memory-filled space.

After a quick stop at Christi's to drop my stuff in her guestroom, we headed off for dinner. Waffle House. I don't know what it is about their ghetto trucker restaurant that's way below McD's quality that I just delight in. But I do. Tradition demands that whenever I'm in Ohio and I'm with Christi, that we eat there. Tradition also demanded I have scrambled eggs and cheese with raisin toast and apple butter as well as hashbrowns with ham and cheese, plus bacon. And Vanilla Sprite. Because YUM. I even got Alan to come, who I haven't seen in forevers. He told us about his drug days (which are now over) and moving back in with parents to get clean, and start a computer repair company which is doing quite well (to the point that he couldn't come to anything else my whole trip because he was fixing...boo). The conversation, as usual when I'm with Alan, turned to video games. :) We talked about old times, and friends like Drew.

After dinner, Jessie got dropped at her grnadparents and Christi went home to get ready for work, borrowing her Gpa's truck so I could use the car if I wanted (super nice). I read her some stories while she got ready, then she left and I went to see Emmy.

For those of you who don't know about my past and kidness, Emmy is like my sister, and her family pretty much IS my family. And I have not Emmy time in YEARS. So that was much needed and amazing. Said hi to mom, then we sat in the living room and just talked. For hours. Because that's what we needed. Nate was there, and I got to meet him. Emmy says he really warmed up to me because he talked to me without being prompted, but I'm not sure. I do give him credit for thick skin though. Emmy and him have been dating quite a while, and I totally told him like 5x during our convo that he need to "pony up" already and give her a ring. GOOD TIMES. Finally around 1am, we decided that we needed sleep, and to save something to talk about for Sunday.

More to come...

"Forgive me Father..."
"...for I have sinned."
And gravely so. True Confession of my soul:

2. I am a closet Geo-Cacher. I love it. Alot. My older Bro got me hooked, and two days ago, I even broke down and bought myself my own GPS. For almost $300. Eee. Merry Christmas to myself?! My Aunt has been helping my habit as well, and now I'm close to catching my brother on finds. And have Travel Bugs of my own to trade. If you don't know what Geo-caching is, you really need to learn.

3. I secretly, against all naysayers, laughers, and people who make fun of me endlessly, <3 Digimon. Like to no end. Like I've watched all the seasons. More than once. Some on YouTube. And that's how I got my start into online Role-Playing Games, which I am still addicted too. My current baby is here. Though, this one I enjoy also, and it needs more players, so if you like to write, join us.

4. I eat at Waffle House. And love the food. I won't touch McD's, but I crave Waffle House. I'm just...complicated, okay?

5. All these confessions were necessary as per my upcoming Travelogue Post...

"Forgive me Father..."
"...for I have sinned."
And gravely so. True Confession of my soul:

1. I ate at McDonald's last night. EW. I'm sorry. In my opinion, McDonald's is the lowest of the low as far as fast food goes. I mean, I even put it below Beto's.

And I ate there. (It was either that or starve, so I rationalized the sin). I'm just... above McD's. I mean, I know they are working really hard to change their image and be "healthy" or whatever, but I will always think of grease pit when I eat there. Always. No matter how they change their image. Or their food. It's just ingrained.

Don't get me wrong, when I was a kid I totally ate there as much as any other little kid, and totally loved it. Happy Meal = Dreams coming true.

But somewhere in my growing up, I lost that childhood innocence, and now, now I just despise the place. And laugh at people wearing expensive business suits and having dinner there. Sucker.

Blogger Buddies,

I AM GOING HOME! I GET TO SEE MY MOMMERS! (And Poppers!)

I am so excited!

AND SO APPREHENSIVE...

My blog is a relatively new thing (but so about time, and let's be honest, you LOVE it!), but for those of you who were tuned into the extravaganza (read: drama-filled craziness) that was my life before this blog, you will know what going home forbodes.

Last Christmas I went for 10 days and very nearly killed myself. I swore I'd only go back for 2 or 3 days at the max. Then I tried buying plane tickets. UGH. The cheapest ticket I could find was for 3 weeks. 3 W E E K S.

Thankfully I have planned a 4-day trip to Ohio and am working on an excursion to D.C., for a wedding.

When I first bought the ticket, my Mom asked: "Okay, but what is going to make this time different?"

I have no answer. But it MUST be. I cannot survive another ordeal like that. Something, anything, must be different. It just has to be.

So please hold my hand, wish me luck, and stay tuned. The next three weeks are going to be interesting (and devoid of Sunday School Moments :( ). Bear with me if my posts become angstier than normal, but here's to hoping, and praying, that this vacation is a GOOD one, and that I have a HAPPY, MERRY Christmas, like I so desperately desire.

Well, the kids certainly made up for the "normalness" last week with the antics of yesterday.

Episode 5: Prophets, Computers, and Jesus, oh my!

So this week I had two visitors, a 10year old, and his 6year old sister. The age range of my class just keeps growing... eee. Anyway, we were talking about Priesthood Preparation (even though I have no boys in my class who are turning 12... they aren't even 11). *shrug*

So I wanted to talk about prophets, the organization of the church, etc. We started out by putting the names of as many prophets as they could think of on the board.

Me: "Good job so far. And who's the current prophet?"

Kid: "Nephi!"

Me: X.x Seriously?

Yes, one of my kids actually said that. Awesome.

Second, I brought Joy to the World because I wanted to use the piece on prophets. I had this big box that we were going to use for a game, and I wouldn't let them look inside it, so one of my more rambunctious girls said, "Fine, then I'm going to look in your bag!" (My Nintendo Bag). I didn't care. She found my battery pack for my computer, and thought it was my ACTUAL Computer! O.O I almost fell out of my chair and couldn't continue the lesson.

Girl: "Look, J, I found his computer!" *pulls out my battery*

Boy: "Whoa, that's cool! It's so small!"

Girl: "I know! We are going to watch the movie on here!"

Girl to me: *waving the battery* "Let's watch the..." *looks at pack* "Dell, right now! This is going to be great!"

I... wow. I have no words. I mean, I know that these are mountain kids who wear cowboy boots with a suit and tie, and only have one school for all 12 grades, but really? You don't know what the difference between a laptop and its battery is? Impressive to say the least.

And finally, when we were in Singing Time, I saw one of my girls sitting in the row in front of me pull out a diary/journal looking thing. She opened it to a page, and though I tried really hard not to invade her privacy, I had to look. On a page colored with a bunch of different colors a la rainbow, these words were scrawled in black crayon:

"Jesus is like Rambo."

L O L. I don't know if she was trying to write "Jesus is like the rainbow... or if she really meant what she wrote. Either way... what I saw = hilarity, and a really interesting, concept. The connotations alone...

Some updates:

I have nothing to report from my Sunday School Lesson yesterday. It was a normal class (with misbehaving of course), and we played Hangman again. I started with the phrase "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" just to shove it in the face of the kids who wanted to hang the man... then did my lesson. Was that mean? I enjoyed it. Nothing remarkable happened in sharing time either. We actually had a normal Sunday!

I have a spider living in my sink. It's Turtle's fault that I didn't kill it outright. At first I thought it was just hanging out, but no, it seems to have moved in. Been there for a week, though it does disappear from time to time. He was gone all day yesterday, but he's back this morning. I named him Spork. Do not ask me why... that was just the first word that popped into my brain after I thought to myself, what should I call you? Spork is a weird spider. He doesn't even have a web, just hangs out in my sink...

This past weekend I sang at a Christmas Fair that my Great-aunt Karen and my Great-uncle Gene were hosting. They were providing 16 hours of non-stop live music. So we had 7 or 8 singers/piano players/violinists and we all rotated. I was a soloist singer (though I did have backup singers some of the times).



I sang everything from "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" and "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas" and "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" to "The First Noel" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" and "O, come all ye Faithful." I also sang "Silent Night," "Silver Bells" and "Away in a Manger."



I looked absolutely hot in my gray vest, suspenders and bowtie. My Aunt was like "Did you get that out of your closet? You didn't even go shopping or anything?" Pshaw. Have you seen my closet? This isn't even as dressy as it gets. Anyway I looked amazing.

PS, about two weeks ago I CUT MY HAIR! EEE! First time since MAY (compare my profile pic to these). The lady cut my bangs WAY TOO SHORT and I'm not happy about that, but *le sigh* life will go on.

I'm excited for Christmas now, and couldn't sleep either night after singing because of all the songs in my head.

Class was better this week. More games. More attention-activities. I think we read one scripture (that's pretty much all we tried to do last week...) I had two visitors this week since it was Thanksgiving, and they were way smarter than all my kids. Even knew scripture references! I was pretty impressed. And wondered why my kids weren't at their level... did they learn before I got here?

Episode 4: That's MY Church!

So again, this one is from Primary, not my class. Because this week we talked about Faith, reviewed a bunch of gospel stories, (and some of the kids remembered the lessons/stories we'd talked about! I was proud) and then shared Faith experiences with one another. I even actually felt the Spirit in my class! Yes! Success!

In Primary, the little brothers of the two visitor girls sat next to me, and they were 6 or 7. We were doing a scripture activity for the lesson, and the little man next to me saw the Bible I was holding out for him to use, and the following hilarity ensued.

Kid: "Hey! That says 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!' That's MY Church!

Me: Awesome! That's MY Church too!

Kid: Whoa! You're a visitor here just like me? I thought you went here."

Me: O.o Um. Um. LOL Kid, what do you think this is, some apocalyptic revivalist splinter-fundamentalist Christian church which has sacrilegiously pilfered your Holy Books? And your parents just randomly decided to visit (and bring you along) since you aren't at home? The Church is the same in more than just one building!

I love the innocence/lack of understanding of children sometimes. It's brilliant.

Third week of class. Absolute disaster! Both of my boys insisted on misbehaving and playing football with anything they could find, and apparently came with amply filled pockets. To complicate matters, anytime I paid them mind, one girl would race to the chalkboard and stamp handprints all over it. The two usually behaved girls didn't want to pay attention either, just talk to each other. X.x *le sigh* My manual says don't acknowledge minor misbehaving because it will just give it attention and encourage it. But where do I draw the line? The lesson didn't even help. It was on why Moroni wrote on the plates, and left little room for games. The one activity I'd thought of, I didn't have the materials or time to put together. Bad week. But, not without it's shining moment.

Episode 3: God is a sexist

This one actually didn't take place in my class, nor was it one of my students. But it totally still counts, because it's classic. We were in the middle of singing time in the Primary, and since Christmas was just around the corner, it was time to start learning a Christmas song. I disobediently made up actions to the song with one of my students, lol. I really am just a big kid.

Anyway, one of the 7-year olds who has developed a particular attachment to me totally interrupted the song learning to have the following conversation with the Singing Lady.

Boy: "I want to make a complaint!"

S.L.: (a little taken aback) "Uh... okay? What is it?"

Boy: "Why are the angels always girls?"

Me and S.L.: O.o

S.L.: "Angels aren't always girls, there are boy angels too."

Boy: "Nu-uh! Look at 'em, wearing dresses!"

S.L.: "Well, just because they are wearing dresses doesn't mean they are girls. Boy angels can wear dresses too."

Me: O_o WHA?! Lady! Don't teach these kids about cross-dressing! They aren't supposed to know that at least until High School!

Boy: "Look at their hair! Their hair is long! Those are totally girl angels." *crosses his arms*

S.L.: "Just because the two angels I have happen to be girls doesn't mean that ALL angels have to be girls..."

Boy: "Yuh-huh! This is dumb." *pouts*

LOL All I needed was for him to add the words "God is a sexist pig/jerk" and I would have officially fallen out of my chair laughing.

As previously stated: I have of late, rediscovered the overwhelming joys of MEDIA (read: books and movies) which I did not have time for in college. Except for the required of course, some of which have remained on my list of excellents. Others however, I burned. Like Watt. Forgive me Samuel Beckett. I just really, really hate you. What an utter waste of paper that book is.

So I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on recent viewings/readings. DISCLAIMER: SPOILER ALERT! If you're planning on reading/seeing any of these in the near future, you may not want to read my opinions...

PS, not included in part two (though it applies): If you have thoughts/feelings/comments to these books and/or movies, chime in, I'd love to know if I'm way off on my thinking, or a pretty dang good critic (which I will believe no matter what you say).

B O O K S
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NOTE: I am an avid reader. LOVE books to death. My taste in books differs sharply from that of movies, and I'm a little bit less of a critic (unless you course you just absolutely can't write. *cough* Stephanie Meyer *cough*, and then I just abhor you).

Ian McEwan's Atonement - Grade: B. The beginning of this book is really, really slow. And I almost stopped reading. But I'm glad I didn't. The story gets really good. This is one of the better novels I've read of late, and I know why they read it in Lit classes now.

Brian Jacques' Voyage of Slaves (book 3 in the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series) - Grade: D. I'm so sad I didn't like this book. I remember loving one and two, but this one just fell flat for me, and Jacques' writing seemed really weak compared to his other works.

Lois Lowry's The Giver - Grade: A+. Definitely one of my all-time top of the pile, favorite books. If you have not read this book, go do so immediately. I'd read it once before in 7th grade, and remembered liking it, but couldn't remember enough to keep me away, so I went back for another perusal. Now I own it because it's just phenomenal.

Mitch Albom's The Five People you Meet in Heaven - Grade: C. This just really wasn't what I was expecting...at all. Maybe that ruined the experience for me. I just didn't really think it was that funny. Interesting concept, but didn't payoff for me.

Stephen King's The Green Mile - Grade: D. This one may surprise some of you. But I just really didn't like this one. I'm not completely failing it, because in it's defense, I didn't actually finish. I had it in the 6-book serial version, and was excited because the books were little and could be read quickly. But the first one was kinda boring, and I tried twice to get into the second one, but my interest was not had, and I never went back. So mainly the grade is for failing to even engage me as a reader.

Brian Jacques' Rakkety Tam (Book 17 in the Redwall series) - Grade: C. This was my second go at this one, and I managed to get all the way through this time. Alright story, nothing extraordinary, just another tale to get Mr. Jacques' more money I'm thinking.

Brian Jacques' High Rhulain (Book 18 in the Redwall series) - Grade: B+. This was one of the better books in the series I've read. I don't remember all of them, since there are so many and I've been reading them forever, but this one was not the same old, same old rewritten in a new way. There were riddles, puzzles, a new island, and an overall engaging storyline reminiscent of the Mossflower days. So I was quite pleased with this one.

Jeanne DuPrau's City of Ember - Grade: A. This was a great book! I read it in one sitting because it engaged me, the story was excellent, and I loved the premise. Now I wonder if the movie is true to this or if they ruined it... but the book is a good one for kids and adults alike. I loved it!

Brian Jacques' Eulalia! (Book 19 in the Redwall series) - Grade: C. Again, this was just like a different way to do Salamandastron or Lord Brocktree. I've read this story before! I'm thinking Jacques' is running out of ideas. Although I do remember some "bigger" words appearing in this text that I was quite pleased with, as opposed to his writings in the past.

Paul Aster's City of Glass (novel and graphic novel versions) - Grade: C. I'm on the fence on this one. I read it, and it left me baffled. It's either completely brilliant, but I don't know why, or it's just preposterous and I know why so well that I hate it. This is one of those books that you feel warrants deeper scrutiny, a more thorough reading, but you refuse to do so for fear of finding there isn't actually anything there to be descried.

Currently I'm 46 pages into C.S. Friedman's Black Sun Rising, the first in the Coldfire trilogy. My little bro Jared suggested it as a phenomenal read akin to my favorites from Dragonlance. So far, I don't know. It seems to be sci-fi parading as fantasy, and I don't feel like much has been explained to me. But in the book's defense there are 443 pages to go... so there's still time for improvement. And it's only book 1.

Next on my reading list: Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which I have heard only good things about, and they are making a movie of.

I love freedom! How did I survive without such rich sustenance in my life? I have no idea.

In light of my last post, I thought I would just pour salt on the wounds of my many friends and tell you about some of my freedom over the past few weeks (which will also explain why I haven't been diligently blogging...lol).

I have of late, rediscovered the overwhelming joys of MEDIA (read: books and movies) which I did not have time for in college. Except for the required of course, some of which have remained on my list of excellents. Others however, I burned. Like Watt. Forgive me Samuel Beckett. I just really, really hate you. What an utter waste of paper that book is.

So I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on recent viewings/readings. DISCLAIMER: SPOILER ALERT! If you're planning on reading/seeing any of these in the near future, you may not want to read my opinions...

M O V I E S
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NOTE: Not going to lie, there are like 5 movies that I adore (and own). And that's all. I am one TOUGH movie critic. And proud of it.

Transformers - Grade: C. I was kind of eh on this one. Some of the filming bugged me and I felt like I couldn't see what was happening half of the time. Although I have to give them credit for not absolutely ruining this, like they did X-men.

Robots
- Grade: B+. I was actually pleasantly surprised by this movie. I'd had it on my list forever, and had even actually crossed it off, because I decided I didn't want to see it as much as I thought I did. But it was funny. And cute. And good. And I was reasonably impressed.

The Forgotten - Grade: C-. Eh. This movie was okay, kind of intriguing, but it left way too many unanswered questions and that just bugged me. And the ending was just like, huh? What? Why? How? Boo. I don't like movies that leave me more confused after seeing them than when I started.

War of the Worlds - Grade: C. I just...I'm sorry, I don't like Tom Cruise. He just can't...act. Does anyone else feel this way, or is it just me? I thought the commentaries/extras were cooler than the movie itself.

The Pacifier - Grade: B. LOL This movie is directed by Adam Shankman, which makes me laugh, because he is on So You Think You Can Dance, and so by default, I love him. The beginning was super cheese, but the rest was actually pretty well done. I was okay with this movie, and did have any complaints that I could remember. Except shouldn't the three-year old have talked more?

Chronicles of Riddick 1, 2, and 3 - Overall Grade: B-. The first Riddick movie is the best one. By far. (The third is the one that was released mainstream in theatres). The second is a half hour cartoon, and it wasn't really that exciting. And the third was kind of meh also, but okay. Except the ending. The ending was LAAAAAME. WAY LAME. I was so upset that they just stopped it. Boo.

Meet the Robinsons
- Grade: A-. This movie was just cute. And funny. And well done. And I'm really glad I saw it, because it was another one I was just going to knock off my list.

Pan’s Labyrinth - Grade: D. The box CLAIMS that this movie belongs "on the same table of High Fantasy as LOTR." My response: No, no, no! Not even close. By a longshot. At all. NO! I again thought the ending was pfhhttt. I absolutely loved that the movie was in spanish and had high hopes all the way to the end. Alas, no. Another thing that bothered me was the senseless violence that was just, unnecessary. This is not Saving Private Ryan, okay?

Stealth - Grade: C. Once again, mediocre movie. I was especially upset about the death of Henry Purcell. It was absurd, and really bad cinema. But Jessica Biel was pretty dang good-looking!

Sky Cap'n and World of Tomorrow
- Grade: C. Again, not impressed. Meggers said this movie was the top of campy cheesy, but I must not be savvy to all that, because I was just middle of the road on this one.

Stomp the Yard - Grade: B+. This movie was another one that exceeded my expectations. I even got emotionally involved, which is a huge must for me to give a movie top ratings. Decent story, decent acting, pretty good movie.

Vantage Point - Grade: C. I had high hopes for this one. They could have done so much more I feel. The plotline was great, but the delivery I think was flawed. On the 7th rewind and start over, I started feeling ripped off and bored.

Disturbia
- Grade: C. This movie was decent. Predictable, but alright. No real complaints, but it wasn't uber gripping exciting/emotional either.

I am Legend - Grade: A-. I had really high hopes for this movie, and for the most part, it delivered. Although I wasn't super okay with the ending. But for the majority, I liked it.

Blackbeard - Grade: D. This is one of those movies that is probably straight to dvd? I dunno. My uncle was watching it, so I did too. It was WAAAAAY too long. By about 3 hours. I was so bored, but engaged just barely enough that I wouldn't walk out of the room. Sigh. I want those 4 hours back.

Next - Grade: C. This movie was so good! Until the end. And then they had to go and screw everything up. BOOOOO. Hated, hated, hated the end. They just... such a great concept, such a great story, then you just throw it all away in the last minutes. *shakes head* Shame.

Kingdom of Heaven
- Grade: A. This is another that's been on my list forever. And it delivered. There were one or two minor things that bugged me (ie, this is supposed to be 1148, no way a woman would be showing that much skin) but other than that, this was a great story, great cinematics (a little bloody for my taste), and with a good ending to boot.

Book reviews in Part III...

Well, this is looooong overdue, and has been in draft form for about half a month now. Might as well put it down and crank it out for feasting eyes (hey, that's you!). ***DISCLAIMER: If you are currently a poor college student referred to in this post, you may want to wait two weeks to read this, so that you don't... hate me.***

Back in October when I went to visit Utah for my Mission Reunion and Conference, I of course went to visit all the poor children left behind at the B Y of U. As I drove around in my rental car, feeling all executive (cuz that was an amazing ride I was sporting, no? :P) I was enthralled by all the little college kiddies toting their bookbags and riding their bicycles, and I said, "Awwwww..." like they were second graders! Haha, suckers. I am just really grateful that I'm done with that!

Most of my friends are currently in the final crunch before the week of death (read: finals!) and hating life. Not getting enough sleep, super stressed, etc. I have emails from the end of my last semester to Turtle, and oh yes, the stress level and angst (and apathy) was off the charts.

Don't get me wrong, I have twinges of longing like everyone else who has good memories for bygone times. I miss things, but wouldn't go back and change much if I could go back. I loved everything I was doing. But really, now that it's done and gone, I'm so happy to just be free. To not have to manage three clubs, while working, while doing school, while continuing to magnify my calling in church. I was one insane college student, just ask my roommates :D

And let's be honest. Being graduated empowers me to have conversations like this:

Me: "Can I tell you how much I love NOT being a college student?"
Friend: "No!"
Me: "I just finished book 18 of 20 of Brian Jacques' Redwall series and have book 19 in hand,"
Friend: "La la la la la...."
Me: "but first am going to read The City of Ember."
Friend: "I'm not listening..."
Me: "I took a 3 hour nap today and woke up with nothing pressing to do! It's so FREEING *basks*"
Friend: "..."
Me: *hugs* "It's almost done friend."
Friend: *cough* "Avarice!" *cough*
Me: "Just look at it like this - I’m like a messenger from the celestial kingdom"
Friend: *rotf*
Me: "and you are still in the thick of your pitiful mortal existence. Which will soon be brought to an end and then I will joyfully usher you into the realm of your dreams."
Friend: "You sound more like a Greek god."
Me: "Well, yes." *pause* "A greek god from the celestial kingdom. Where did you think they went?"
Friend: "Touche."


 

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