Thursday, December 30, 2010

Monster Hunter International

Normally I don't blog about the sillier books that I read. Most of the time I don't have much to say other than, yep it was a book. But this one has more going for it than just an entertaining read. The feel of the book is sort of like the Mummy movies, a bit gross but everyone is having a lot of fun and the plot is sort of an after thought. The author writes really good action sequences, the type that keep you turning the pages to see how it all turns out. Much better than a normal, lots of people shoot and here's who's left standing at the end type of thing. I think he has a talent for it. The plot was run of the mill monster-type end of the world plot. It was the little things that had me giggling to myself as I read.

Larry Correia must be Mormon. I didn't know that and I picked it up at the library having heard good things about it, but not that he was from Utah or anything else about his background. He put all sorts of Mormon phrases and ideas into his books. They would pop up at random intervals and I just thought that was hilarious.  I know that my husband wasn't as amused as I was, but it just cracked me up. Phrases like, "preordained", "noble and great ones" and "before this world was organized" might not mean much to other people, but to active LDS people you may as well put a picture of a Book of Mormon on the cover.

I've mentioned before that I wonder what other people think about those things that I pick up because of how I think. This is another case like that. The book itself it pretty violent, (we are talking about killing hordes of undead) and has moderate swearing and lots and lots of guns so I know that a lot of LDS people wouldn't want to read it. It was published as a regular fiction book, you will never find this one on the shelves of Deseret Book, but with all the LDS phrases and ideas it made me feel like I was reading a Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites book for grown-ups. But maybe I'm just odd.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post-Christmas Update

Having found the cord and the camera, I hereby post some of the more recent pictures. We had a successful holiday and everyone is still playing with the toys they received and I don't think anything is broken yet, so we are doing well.

So here is J. when he got his Arrow of Light.



 


This is the best shot I got of N. and his learning to walk bruises. His eye got really dark after a day or two. The shot is blurry because he keeps getting faster.



Bridget was a sheep in her school's Christmas pageant. Here she is being a sheep (that's what she told me anyway.)




We didn't manage to get a picture of R. with the priesthood people that ordained him. The bishopric ran off and when we got home he was out of his church clothes. This is his 12th birthday and the books that occupied him for a solid week until he read them all.



And finally a shot of the girls playing with their Christmas presents. They combined all the dolls and such and had a good time for most of the day. I would show the boys but a picture of people playing on the computer or video games isn't really all that interesting.  Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Feelings of Christmas

Merry Christmas to all. This year I have been struggling with feeling the Christmas spirit. Being in a new home, money worries, new climate, general grumpiness, all have contributed. I have been fighting these feelings with large doses of Christmas carols. I say carols and not songs because a goodly percentage of the songs played on commercial radio stations are songs, not carols. I'm not 100% sure of the dividing line but any song that was written after I was born doesn't count, as well as one that complains about the holiday. Personally I would get rid of anything that tries to downplay the reason for the holiday but you have to include Rudolph and any song easily sung on someone's porch.

Whatever the definition, I have been trying to listen to as much as possible. Not only does it help me feel like Christmas is coming, but most of the time it helps my mood. So I am sharing some of my favorites with you, as I listen to the LDS.org streaming of Christmas carols by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, one group that knows their carols.

One that I wouldn't say is my favorite, but I love is Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant. Honestly, I avoid it. Having been pregnant for 5 Christmases it still makes me cry when I hear it in a quiet setting. It is a beautiful song, but having been reduced to near hysterical tears by a song is slightly embarrassing. I highly recommend it as long as you are not heavy with child.

The Little Drummer Boy is also one I enjoy. I've always liked the idea of wanting to give something, anything, to the baby Jesus. I also like the percussive styles you get with the various versions. It is one of my favorites.

New this year is Feliz Navidad. I never liked this song until I heard my 5 & 4 yr old girls singing it so happily in the car. Now I think of them and it also makes me happy.

Joy to the World is my favorite though. I've always liked it because it doesn't just talk about Baby Jesus. It proclaims the joy of Christ and all the reasons he came to the Earth. The joy of Christmas has very little to do with babies and everything to do with the adult Christ. I love this songs later verses as they proclaim:

No more will sin and sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He’ll come and make the blessings flow
Far as the curse was found,
Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010 version


MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM US




Due to a lack of money, time and patience, my card sending has been severely curtailed. So if you have an email or Facebook account, this is it. Sorry. But you do get extra pictures that I didn't print on the physical
copy. Next year I will be back in full card sending mode (I hope). If you would like my new address or phone number send me a message and I will send it to you. Have a wonderful holiday season.





We have had a busy year. We spent the winter experiencing the worst winter Moab had in 30 yrs, which was fun with a wood burning stove.

In the spring we welcomed Nathan Bitner Ward, born on March 30, 2010. He is a healthy, happy and Heavy child and brings joy to our home every day.

 







We did lots of outdoorsy type Moab things until the middle of August, when it became apparent that Arches Audiology would need to close. This was a difficult decision. It led through lots of prayer and fasting to a new job in San Antonio, Texas. We moved to Texas the first week of October and have been learning and adjusting ever since.



 
R. is now in middle school, since he is in 6th grade. It was a big adjustment but he is doing well. He is in the Gifted and Talented program, which we didn’t have in Moab.

J. is in 5th grade. He just received his Arrow of Light and is looking forward to Boy Scouts.

E. was baptized in February, with her cousin Emma. She is in 3rd grade and has already made lots of friends here. She loves Activity days and playing with her friends.

M. is in Kindergarten this year. After a few weeks of half-day in Moab she moved to all day here. This was a bit of a shock but she has adjusted well. She is learning to read and loves doing her homework.

B. is in pre-school and celebrated her 4th birthday just before we moved. She loves to go with Mom and love on her little brother.

N. is 8 months old now and getting into everything. He stood on his own today and is well on his way to walking by Christmas. I'm sure the bruises will fade by the time he reaches pre-school.
.  That's all for now We love you all!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cultural Codes in C.S. Lewis

I went to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader a few days ago. I liked the movie, though it was quite different than the book. I expected that though. When they announced the movie D. said he didn't want to see it because he didn't think it would make a good plot. The book was just a series of unrelated islands. The movie brought the disparate elements of the islands with an added element to make a unified plot. I thought that it worked very well.

I also discovered, thanks to the generosity of friends, that 3-D is distracting. I enjoyed the movie but I never really got into it because the effects made me very aware that I was watching a movie. Perhaps if you were used to it you could ignore it, but I couldn't. I think I will just do regular movies from now on.

One of the things I like best about these versions of the Narnia series is that they don't remove the Christian symbols and messages from the story. It is easy to justify taking all of the actual meaning out of pop culture versions of things. For example, I recently saw an episode of Go Diego Go (Dora's cousin for those of you not into children's television) talking about Three Kings Day. Parts of Mexico have gifts delivered not by Santa, but by the three kings, on Jan. 6. So they had an entire episode about the three kings, and how the brought presents, and rode these special animals, but no mention of where these kings came from or why they were bringing presents or anything. At least with Santa based shows they don't have to actively ignore things to take the Christian message out.

Which brings me to the title of the post. I'm going to assume you have a familiarity with the story. If you haven't read the Narnia books stop reading this right now and go get them for heaven's sakes. During the movie, the section where Eustace is changed back into being a boy from a dragon is done very quickly. In fact, it was done so quickly that I think if you hadn't been paying attention you might not have understood what was happening. Later in the movie, one of the characters ask him how it felt. He replies (I'm trying to quote but just from memory) " I was trying to do it, but it was something I couldn't do myself. It hurt, but it was a good kind of hurt." Immediately the ideas of Christ's atonement, the power of repentance and redemption flashed into my mind. Those few sentences were as good as a sermon to me.

Yet I have a prepared mind. I have read the books, I understand the symbolism. I have spent a lifetime immersed in the ideas of a Christian faith. So when a movie uses shorthand to communicate those powerful concepts in just a few seconds, I can still catch it. I want to know if everybody else does.
I think that movie reviewers do, because they are trained to catch the symbolism in all the movies. They are as good as English Majors when it comes to reading the meanings not stated. What about the 99% of moviegoers who don't have that kind of background? I think everyone who can see and hear well enough to go to a movie would have picked up on the idea of temptation, and the importance of resisting it, but that is not a uniquely Christian concept and didn't need the idea of Christ to be developed. What about the idea of repentance, and needing Christ to be able to escape from sin completely? Is it also there for everyone to see? It is hard to try and look at the world though other's eyes and I'm not very good at it. I just have questions.

The problem with these questions is I don't have a good way to answer them. The vast majority of people I know are also well versed in Christian thought. Many of the others are well-educated and trained to pick out ;layers of meaning, even if they aren't specifically aware of religious meaning. So should I head out to the mall and ask people at random coming out of the theater? Probably not. I'm not that curious. What have you read, what do you think?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Snuffle snort

With Bridget in pre-school several days a week and the emergencies coming at a sower pace, I decided I would blog more frequently. Then the germs attacked.
I was standing in the church cultural hall, being parently and proud of J. who was getting his Arrow of Light.(pictures posted when I find the camera) I started to sneeze. Repeatedly. Then cough. By the time we got home my eyes were swollen, my ears and jaws and teeth hurt, I couldn't breathe and I ached everywhere. I don't think I've ever gotten a cold this fast.
So all posting ideas I had are now lost in a pea-soup fog of cold medicine and snot. I'll get back to you later.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Deadly Spin

First off, I hate this title. I have reviewed the book on Goodreads as well and every time I see it I cringe. It sounds like some true crime novel. Which I suppose, depending on your political sensibilities, it could be.
I applied for this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program. It amazing the stuff you can get that way. I have had problems with insurance for a while and am always ready to read things that support my already formed prejudices. The following is what I posted on Goodreads.

I think that the information in this book could be very valuable if you were interested in trying to understand what is really going on in today's political environment. It helps not only with the healthcare debate but with how spin is used in every issue where money is a factor-- meaning all of them.
I found the book a bit difficult to get through because of the sea-saw between utter outrage and boredom. What they are doing is outrageous but the details of the PR business were a bit difficult to follow at times.
I do wish that the chapter explaining why the insurance companies can't be sued were printed up for nationwide distribution. If everyone got a copy in their mailbox maybe it would generate enough outrage to get the law changed. With some accountability the heavy-handed tactics of the insurance companies would have to change.
A disturbing and eye-opening read.

It also reinforces what I try and remember and try to teach my children, don't belive the media unless you REALLY trust the source. There are so many forces trying to make us think, feel and spend in certain ways that it is difficult to know what is right. I worry most about unconscious bias. There are certain things I can see and actively fight against in my family and in my own mind, but how much PR are we subject to that we don't even realize? How much gets through our filters because it is subtle or comes from an unexpected direction?
One of my favorite scriptures comes from Ephesians 4:13-15 

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

 At least I know that one thing is always true and also always looking out for my best interests, Jesus Christ. Though there are some things I cannot prove or trust, I do have one anchor and that makes up for a lot of uncertainty.