Saturday, August 29, 2009

Book Review

Well, not much of a review because I too passionate or biased or opinionated. I finished reading "Darcy's Story" by Janet Alymer. It retells Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy's perspective. I liked it. I was a super quick read & felt like young adult fiction. It stays true to the original chronology and events and keeps the same dialogue. The descriptions of people and places are sparse as most readers wouldn't need them. Anyway, it was a light, fun read. 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Christmas Today & a Mish Mash Update

So many things to record...

I will continue another post or two about Nauvoo as soon as I can re-size pics. (hopefully this weekend). I told my friend Alisa that part of my problem is that I can use the pictures taken by everyone else on a pageant members only blog. Some of the photographers are professionals and there are over 60,000 pics. I get lost trying to find ones to use for my blog - by the numbers and by the memories. 

I also need to write a post about middle school for Ryan. Am I really old enough to have a middle schooler? I truly feel like the 24 yr. old just home from my mission. That is my golden age. I wonder if I will still feel 24 when I am 96...

School - is going sooooo much better than last year. I feel almost giddy at how much better I feel. I feel confident, capable, and am actually enjoying being a teacher. 8 kids did not show up so my class started out with 17 - I am now at 18 but MUCH more manageable numbers. And I do not have as many issues/meds to deal with that I had been originally told. It is such a blessing to feel capable. 

I am taking my final (or so they say) certification test on Sept. 19. And since I was spending a few hundred dollars, why not some more? so I signed up to take the ESL test as well. We will see if that was such a good plan. If I pass both, I will have my teaching certificate in 6-12 social studies classes with the Elementary K-8 endorsements and the ESL endorsement. I did find out that if I fail, I can retake them after they part me with a bit more of my hard earned savings. 

I have had such a great time in Relief Society lately. We had a fun Enrichment a couple of weeks ago - it was relaxing, renewing and a bit educational. Then I went to Book Club - so much fun. We discussed "The Giver" and "The Westing Game". I was a slacker and didn't read The Giver. The Westing Game I have listened to twice. It was just so much fun to talk about books - so many memories and connections with good books. We are reading Rahl Dahl next and then "The Secret Garden" which I LOVE. Lastly, Alisa and I got to visit with some other ladies from church a few times this past month and it was just fun. 

Wonderful news - my friends Jay & Alisa came over tonight and while we girls visited, Jay fixed my wireless connections!!!!! We have lived with a blue cord in the middle of our living room for forever now. We have tripped over it, argued over who would use it first, and felt leashed by it. Not only is it gone, but he installed my cordless keyboard and mouse. Heavenly days! I loooooove it. It feels like Christmas.

Lastly- I splurged on me. Today I came home to a package from Amazon. No, not books. DVDs. I can now watch "Under the Greenwood Tree", "Jane Eyre", "Pride & Prejudice" (2005), "Emma" (Kate Beckinsale) as many times as I want! I did get them all on super sales. Who needs tv when you have these along with "North & South", the Colin Firth "Pride & Prejudice" and the latest "Sense & Sensibility"? Did I say that today felt like a rich Christmas? I am thinking that I need to have a Chick Flick Party - anyone? 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I need some pointers on re-sizing my pics. Anyone? I will fix the Nauvoo posts as soon as I learn how. Sorry!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

We arrived in Nauvoo, IL. on a perfect Sunday evening, July 19. The last 20 mins of the drive are beautiful. The road borders the Mississippi with woods on the other side. As you come into Nauvoo, the main road goes up a hill and turns and there suddenly the temple is before you. It literally took my breath away. So many thoughts and emotions as I saw it. 

We drove around town, found our camp ground and pitched our tent. Then we went to explore a bit more and find out where we had to be for the next day. 

Monday morning found us at the Middle School at 8:00a.m. We were greeted by the most wonderful, enthusiastic volunteers. They greeted us like we were family and then had known us forever. We instantly felt welcomed, wanted and loved. We registered, picked up our parking info, signed up for fitting times, temple appointments and had our pictures taken for our name badges. We gathered in the gym where Julie Robinson, a wonderful dancer, mother of 5 under 8 & the artistic Director's wife, started teaching us some very fun country dances. Everyone was laughing & asking "what is your name & where are you from?" as we began to get to know each other. Our cast was a true gathering from everywhere. Families from California, Canada, Guatemala, East Coast, and everywhere in between. We represented many ethnicities as well - Japanese, African American, Hispanic, Korean, Romania. I was surprised at how many of us had personal things in common - our cast was filled with adoptive families, foster families, widowed families, a few divorced families & homeschooling families - all things that have touched my life & heart. It truly felt like family.  Our youngest cast member was little Mariah at 18 months and I respectfully didn't ask the oldest. :)

(learning to dance)

Ry & I had our costume fittings fairly early because I was so excited we were a few mins. early. Let me try to explain costuming. The costume department takes up HALF of the middle school. There are over 10,000 pieces of costumes for the pageant.


(the laundry baskets are all bloomers, the garbage cans are packed with petticoats)

It was inspiring to see one part of the army that makes up the pageant. At the first desk, they pulled our folders and sent us to the appropriate classroom where a sister measured us and began handing us our costume. I walked out with 2 skirts, 3 bodices, 1 petticoat, bloomers, 1 apron, a cloak, a bonnet, cuffs & a collar. Ryan got off easy with 1 pant, 1 shirt, 1 vest & a hat. Some families had to have carts for all of there stuff.  We then headed to the changing classroom where we had to try on each outfit and then go to the "pit" (another classroom) where ladies measured our hems and made notes on our chart for alterations. 

(Ryan in the pit)
After everything had been fitted, we left our costumes on a rack for the sewing ladies to alter (we picked them up the next day.) A huge classroom was set up as a giant sewing factory. There were probably 15 or more sewing machines in there and ladies all chatting & sewing away. My mom would have been in heaven. These ladies worked through the night getting our cast outfitted for the performance the next night. What is even more amazing is these ladies are volunteers from around the country. They like the cast, medical, crew, kitchen, & security pay their own way, give up 1, 2 or more weeks of their summer to make pageant happen. It truly is miraculous. 

After our fitting, we went back to the dancing for just a bit before sat down to meet the organizers & directors. Family Support (a volunteer support team for the kids) came in and the kids ages 3-11 could go with them for some crafts & games. The directors made it very clear that our families came first in this process. If our kids needed something or us, they encouraged us to take care of them and not feel like we were bothering them or interrupting the meeting. I love it when family needs are recognized and honored. Ryan was not happy about having to go with the little kids, but I asked him to give it a try so he did. 

Our meeting began with a hymn. I do not remember what we sang, but I will never forget the feeling. It was tremendous. Without hymnals & without any preparation, we sang in parts. And we SANG. I was stunned at how we sounded. I had goosebumps. And a couple of tears. We sounded so good. It more than filled the space. I wasn't the only one looking around to find the wonderful voices. I believe that angels were singing with us. 

The Pageant Mission Pres.- Pres. Renouf spoke and then the directors. I especially remember something that the artistic director, Ray Robinson, said. He said that "the best actor in the world can not portray a saint. It can't be done. You can not act being a saint. You have to BE a saint." That really stuck with me. And over the next two weeks, we learned & shared what it is to be a saint. 

After the meeting, we broke for lunch. I had purchased the cafeteria plan and so we ate both weeks at the Middle School cafeteria. After lunch, we hung around the gym while I tried to soak it all in. The band leader was working with a group of musicians from our cast in one corner. They were playing some of the music for the square dancing & then played Taylor Swift's Love Story. I had never heard it before and I fell in love with the music. They had violins, guitars, cellos, and I don't know what all, but they sounded so good. It was hard to believe that they only met that morning. The music director, Brad Thompson, came in and started working with the work crew on a version of "The Armies of Helaman." It gave me goose bumps - they sounded so good. 
Monday afternoon received our pre-show assignments & instructions. The pageant is outdoors and starts at 8:30. From 7 -8:30 the cast host a pre-show, basically an old fashioned country fair. Two fields in front of the pageant are filled with pioneer activities. Stilts, stickball, tug-of-war, stickpull, log saw, branding, dancing, music, hand cart rides, quilting, rag tying, checkers, puppet shows, & pioneer crafts. Ry & I were in charge of Parlor games - 4 picnic tables with checker boards printed on them where we taught & played checkers, fox & geese, & dominos. Attendance at the pageant each night was between 2,000 & 3,000 so there were tons of people & tons of fun. We constantly had people at our tables and had a great time getting to know the pageant guests. 

After we learned the pre-show instructions, we learned the finale. Our cast was the green cast. The first week we were in rehearsal & we were responsible for the Pre-show & part of the finale. The cast in front of us (in their second week & the performing cast) was the Yellow cast. All the while, directors would pull various groups of men & boys and teach them how to build parts of the sets that they would be responsible for while the yellow cast performed. 

We had some time for dinner and then met at the stage for the Yellow cast dress rehearsal. We saw the pageant for the first time that night. It was amazing. The message, the feeling, and then getting to go up at the end and be a part of it... I really don't have words. I felt so humbled, so grateful, so joyful, so blessed. Afterward, we sat on the stage with both casts and passed the mike sharing our experiences. Some were technical comments, most were feelings. It felt like the testimony meeting you have at the end of girl's camp. And everyone's comments were welcome - no matter how small you were. Everyone was a part of this. 

(I love this picture - the pioneers (yellow cast) mixed with the modern (green cast - ours). This is the meeting right after the dress rehearsal. We know many of the people in the background.) 

Now you can see why I couldn't post much while I was there. All of that was the first day. And there are probably things that I am forgetting. Most nights we didn't get to bed until 11:00 or 12:00 and we had to be at rehearsal by 8:00a.m. It was wonderful to go to bed truly exhausted in the work of the Lord. 

To be continued...

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I know that many of you are waiting to hear details of Nauvoo. I have typed out many of my thoughts but I want to post with pictures and I have had a hard time finding the camera and the camera cord at the same time. Grrr. Also, I have been waiting for some of the pics. from others in the cast to be downloaded as they took WAY more pictures than I did. 

The day after we got home, Ryan headed to Tim's for two weeks. I have been working non-stop at my house. The last year was a "survival" year and the house showed it. I have been able to let go of a lot of stuff and learn to embrace this new life of mine. Most of the homeschool stuff and the stay-at-home-mom projects found new homes this past week. It was a bit of a heart tug to see them go - they represent some personal goals and dreams, but it was cleansing as well. Car loads have gone to Goodwill or other places. I have become quite the handyman this past week, assembling file cabinets, tables, chairs, office chairs & computers. Well, not computers. I did something wrong and can't get my pc to work. 

Did you hear the death toll yesterday morning? School started for me at 8:00a.m. and life as I enjoy it ended. This year is already not nearly as hard as last year. My room is almost put together and I feel like I can do this. It will definitely be a challenge. I got my class list - 25 kids. That is a lot. And lots of other issues....

We started off the school year with a VERY political rally for two hours. Highly irritating as I agreed with almost nothing. It would appear that you almost must be a democrat to be an educator. I keep deleting other comments I could make so I guess this is all there is to say about that. 

Have a great day! 

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