Friday, April 30, 2010

Book Review: The Help

"Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, "Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?"

"I used to believe in em (lines). I don't anymore. They in our heads. Lines between black and white ain't there neither. Some folks just made those up, long time ago. And that go for the white trash and the so-ciety ladies too."

"I want to yell so loud that Baby Girl can hear me that dirty ain't a color, disease ain't the Negro side a town. I want to stop that moment from coming--and it come in ever white child's life--when they start to think that colored folks ain't as good as whites."

The Help by Kathryn Stockett was one of the most profoundly beautiful stories I've ever read. Recently I've been called a 'Book Snob' by one of my friends (a self proclaimed book snob herself) because I'd mentioned a couple books I just couldn't get on board with. I talked about my problems relating to the characters, believing the plot/timeline/consequences etc. and I thought of a quote from a book I read earlier this year that said "reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones." I think that is absolutely true which is why it is such a treasure to me when I find such a gem as The Help.

The Help begins in 1962 in Jackson Mississippi and is told through the voices of three main protagonists. Skeeter is a recent college graduate who has moved back home to find the woman who raised her, her maid Constantine, is gone and no one will tell her what has happened to her. Aibileen is a black maid in her 50s grieving the loss of her only child who was killed a year or so earlier and is raising her 17th white child. Minny is the feisty black maid in her 30s who has recently lost her job and is working for the elusive new woman in town harboring secrets of her own. Pretty soon they find themselves brought together by the question of what is right and wrong, what lines are being drawn between white and black Mississippi? They are determined to start a movement of their own and forever change their town and the way they view one another.

One book review said "you'll catch yourself cheering out loud." I did several times. It was an emotional roller coaster as mistakes are made, triumphs are enjoyed, lines are crossed, rules are broken. Not only did I cheer out loud I also cried, gasped, laughed, name it.

I couldn't choose a quote so I've listen three but I've saved my favorite for now. It is the moment when Skeeter realized their fanatical revolution just might make a difference for people, but not completely in the way she thinks. She says "There is so much you don't know about a person. I wonder if I could've made her days a little bit easier, if I'd tried. If I'd treated her a little nicer. Wasn't that the point? For women to realize, we are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd through."

If I could I would buy this book for every person I know. Especially every woman I know. It deals mostly with civil rights among African Americans but it also touches on Women's rights. It deals with the relationship a person has to society, the ties that link people to each other, and the kindness that should transcend differences.

Stephanie and Georgia...if you haven't read this yet you HAVE TO. Mom you have to go read it too. Tell your friends all about it. It is incredible. NO WONDER I've only heard amazing things about it. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR HEART!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

From her head down to her toes...

She is ALLLLLLLL Girl!

Today I painted Hannah's toes for the first time! It was a lot of fun and she is mesmerized by the pretty pink color on her toes! I love having a girl!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Review: The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

This is our May book club pick of the month. The name alone intrigued me and I was even more excited to find out that the main characters name was Hannah, unfortunately I was somewhat disappointed.

If I had read the book outside of a book club setting I think I might have enjoyed it more. This was like a road trip book- something fun and light, quick and simple. I'm not exactly sure what we are going to discus in our book club.

29 year old Hannah owns a cookie shop and stumbles upon the body of Ron, her delivery boy and the town football hero. Her brother in law Bill is a police officer who wants to solve the crime so he can be promoted to detective. Turns out Hannah has a knack for solving crime and begins to collect the clues and helps Bill solve the case (basically Bill does nothing...but gets all the credit.

I did not like the voice of the main character. She was a cat person. She talked exactly like my Grandma Phyllis. I love my Grandma Phyllis but lets be honest she couldn't pass for a 29 year old so I had a hard time believing that Hannah was a 29 year old woman and not a 78 year old woman. The dialogue was a little annoying and many of the clues seemed to fall into her lap. I didn't ever really connect with the main character (which was strange because she was JUST like my grandma!) and I didn't like how all the jokes were explained...

I did like the story. It was fun and light. The BEST part of the book was that Hannah would cater several town events with these yummy sounding cookies and then she would share the recipe in the story. I love chocolate chip cookies and she had a very interesting recipe. Today I tried her chocolate chip crunch recipe which included corn flakes. CORN FLAKES?! I was I had to try them.

They were very good.

So if you would like to try it here is the recipe...the best part about them is if you dip them in milk you can count it as a balanced breakfast!

Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies
1 cup butter (2 sticks melted)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 beaten eggs (beat with fork)
2 1/2 cups flour (not sifted)
2 cups crushed corn flakes
(crush them with your hands)
1 - 2 cups chocolate chips
Melt butter, add the sugars and stir. Add soda, salt, vanilla and beaten eggs. Mix well. Then add flour and stir it in. Add crushed corn flakes and chocolate chips and mix it all thoroughly.

Form dough into walnut-sized balls with your fingers and place on a greased cookie sheet, 12 to a standard sheet. Press them down with a floured or greased fork in a crisscross pattern (the same method as peanut butter cookies).

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then remove to a wire rack until they're completely cool. (The rack is important -- it makes them crisp).

Monday, April 26, 2010

9 months ago...9 months from now...

9 months old has been a strange milestone to come up on. It seems like such a short amount of time has passed since Hannah came into our home. These 9 months have flown by and have been filled with indescribable JOY.
I think the reason I've been thinking a lot about the 9 month mark is because 9 months ago I was coming to the end of a 9 month journey which would change my life eternally. 9 months of pregnancy is a lot longer than 9 months of being a mommy. I loved being pregnant and feeling Hannah inside me and although my body went through some rough things being pregnant I was grateful to be able to carry the sweet little Hannah I love today.

9 months from now will mark the end of a two year period and my brother will finally come home to our family! I wonder if this next 9 months will fly by waiting for his safe return :)

***A side note*** Please excuse the ugly picture lol that is what it looks like to become dilated to a 6 before getting to the hospital lol if I'd have known...I probably would have gone in sooner :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Saturday Treasures

Our first bookshelf was getting too crowded and we were doubling up books on the shelves with many more books stored away so Adam bought my bookshelf a twin...another will be arriving shortly, as soon as we get enough books to filler' up :)

This was our old bedspread... it served us well for almost four years but we have been talking about getting an upgrade for a long time

This is our new bedspread! We love it and Adam picked it out all by himself (impressive no?)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Be Prepared

Last Sunday we had a fabulous meeting. Friday night the bishop came to three families in the ward with an envelope with instructions not to open it until the next morning at 8:00 am. The families waited and wondered and come Saturday 8am they opened the letter to some devastating news. An 8.6 earthquake had hit Las Vegas. Electricity was gone, water was contaminated, the stores had been raided but that didn't matter because the streets were destroyed so they couldn't leave their houses (especially anticipating aftershocks). The time had come for them to depend on the things they had prepared. They were going to report their experience in Sacrament meeting the next day.

The three families spoke today and what they said had a huge impact on me and my attitude. One woman shared something that especially made me think. She was at the store at 8 in the morning when her husband called to tell her about the drill. Obediently, she returned her items to the shelves and started driving home. She thought about what the roads would look like, the houses and the devastation. As she turned onto her street she started to ponder what her own home would look like, what she would find. Would her family survive? Would she have survived away from her family? Her thoughts turned from physical preparation to spiritual preparation and she wondered, if she left this world today, or if one of her children or her husband left the world, would they know her testimony?

Some people believe that those who gather food storage, generators, flash lights, etc are scared, paranoid people. I have to say, I am not afraid. In fact, I feel very calm about the whole idea. Perhaps because I have been told to prepare my entire life for some sort of disaster or emergency. I know plenty of people who use their emergency preparedness kits for times when money is scarce, it's not just for Armageddon ;)

How do you start to become self reliant? The same way you begin to eat an Elephant. One bite at a time. The church suggests that we take these 6 steps to become self reliant, prepared for anything.

1) Managing money and resources wisely: I have always known that I wanted to be able to be a stay at home mom, knowing this from the beginning, Adam and I started to prepare financially for him to be the sole source of income. After 18 months of marriage, Adam and I were able to completely absolve any debt we accrued. In 2009 we bought a house, which required us to take out a loan for my education (as the money was being used elsewhere) and use three credit cards in order to pay for some expenses (such as appliances and baby furniture). We knew however, that this would only be temporary due to the 8,000 dollar home buyer credit. With the arrival of our tax refund we were able to pay off our three credit cards, plus build a stronger financial reserve in our savings account for future expenses. We also budget money twice monthly to be put aside for savings

2) Obtaining sufficient knowledge, education, and literacy: I am grateful that Adam and I were both able to get our respective college degrees. Although I am "just" a stay at home mom, I find that already I have benefited from gaining my degree. Adam's degrees have benefited our family with a secure job, lots of employment and advancement and financial security. I also continue to seek knowledge and improve skills that may not fall under the "formal" education but will be beneficial.

3) Being Spiritually Strong: This is an area we that need constant improvement and nourishment, but is perhaps the most important of all these. I try to maintain a good spirit in our home and teach Hannah in small and simple ways about Heavenly Father and Jesus. I won't spend much time on this, just know we are always trying to be the best we can be, and we always have the desire to become closer to God, but we are not perfect after a lifetime of trying and we are okay with being just a work in progress.

4) Preparing for emergencies and eventualities: This is where I lack the most. I have a budget and a plan that will help us gather more of the things we need in case we are in need of some emergency supplies and food. Yesterday I spent ALL day evaluating boxes in our house, clearing out space for food storage and 72 hour kits. We have a GREAT backpack to fill with some awesome stuff. Not only is it big and there are a ton of pockets it is ARMY STRONG. That's right, we have a backpack from Terry and a few more at Adam's parents house waiting for us. When there is an emergency and we walk out with those backpacks no one will mess with the family carrying the army backpacks ;)

5) Physical Health: Yep that's right, in order to become self reliant we have to stay physically healthy. This includes being prepared when we are not. We are armed to the teeth with insurance and we try to keep ourselves healthy. This is including no alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. We are trying to get into the habit of drinking lots and lots of water. It is essential in the desert to be in that habit and I'm trying to teach Hannah now by making her drink a ton of it. I walk two miles almost every day and Adam rides his bike at least a few times each week.

6) Social/ Emotional Health: Yep becoming self reliant includes social emotional health too! Cultivating relationships your family can count on and people can count on you. My mom was always really great at having good friendships we kids could count on and I'm trying to do the same. I try to ask myself daily "what have I done for my marriage today..."and if I can't think of anything I do something. During hard times, it is important to maintain a positive outlook and surround yourself not only with people who you care about and admire, but people who love you too.

So those are the 6 steps of self reliance and how we are attempting each one (one bite at a time).
I was asked by the person in charge of the self reliance and emergency preparedness to help her begin a blog and I'd love for any of your suggestions too as I get that up and running for our ward.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Grateful today.

I'm feeling a lot of gratitude today for my many blessings.

I am so grateful to live in a wonderful home, and feeling fortunate to have purchased it when we did at nearly the lowest of low. It may not be a grand house and it may not be decorated but I have a beautiful home with nice things filled with a wonderful spirit of love and happiness.

I am grateful to have a car that is reliable and that can take us places COMFORTABLY because we travel between Utah and California so frequently.

I am grateful for Adam's job that is secure. The world will always need teachers so we are set (Until the Apocalypse;)

I am grateful to live in Las Vegas, surrounded by wonderful people, very strong women that I have grown to love who are raising good children who can be a good example to my child. People who take care of me and love me and want me to hang around :)

I am grateful for my membership in the church. Not just because I am able to know the gospel of Jesus Christ, to feel the spirit and to feel His love, but also because of the JOY it brings to feel secure in friendship--united with those around me and to feel the security that the gospel brings.

I am grateful for a HEALTHY HAPPY WONDERFUL baby girl who has brought me more joy than I ever thought I could experience in this lifetime. I'm grateful to be her mommy and to be able to teacher her and guide her through life.

Most especially I am grateful for a loving, helpful, kind husband who not only provides for our families financial needs but is also PRESENT in our home and family, who loves me for who knows why and who loves and cares for every need of our daughter. I'm also lucky to have a husband who is always serving me, always willing to hop up and help me out with whatever needs to get done and does so without complaint. I love him.

In case you were wondering what caused this spontaneous expression of gratitude I was recently "on lifes billows feeling tempest tossed...discouraged thinking all was lost" as I stood in line for 3.5 hours at the DMV so I counted my blessings ;)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Summer is officially upon us...

In Utah the weather should be changing shortly...March and April introduce the beautiful springy weather with a little bit of a tease here and there (Mom said they used snowplows last week...) but for the most part, spring has sprung and everyone in Utah is happy.

Down here in Vegas however, Summer is here. There is no turning back. Today it reached a high of 80 degrees, yesterday even higher. The weatherman said "enjoy this week, it will be one of the prettiest of the year." I guess that's what you get when you live in Vegas. I labored and gave birth on a day that got up to 118 degrees.

We have been taking advantage of the absolutely GORGEOUS weather Hannah and I (along with Adam today) have spent the last three days in three different parks. Hannah loves the sunshine and takes off on the lawn (she is used to the prickly grass by now).

People tell me that I should love the weather, not understanding that living in 112-120 degrees in the summer is as crippling to those who live in harsh winters (we often get warnings to stay in doors) but for now I will love the daily stroller rides (that Hannah and I have enjoyed daily since January) and the lazy days in the park. Until we are confined indoors...or at least to the free water parks ;)

Oh...I got my first sunburn today.

Friday, April 2, 2010

{Ghost of Lovers Past}

Recently I've had the chance to reflect on the past, especially as I have stumbled upon Adam's missionary journal at the Turney's this past trip to California.

How strange it is to read about my missionary. Yes, although I didn't write to him, Adam was, is, and always will be my missionary. I know that as I read about myself in the pages of his journal. He talks about me a lot. He writes things like "We had to work in the rain today. I hope that means the Lord is preparing an amazing woman that I am working for."

For a long time he thought there was a special someone in mind. He wrote:

"There is only one girl that I have known in all my life that has done that [smile at the thought of her] to me. Jessica Lea Wooten. My best friend, my angel, girlfriend, first love and kiss, my listening friend, my comforter, my greatest example of what I want in a wife and companion for all eternity. She is the one that has made me happy and that I have dedicated my personal time to." you have to laugh a little...Adam was so romantic to call her his "listening friend" and I can't believe he would even "dedicate his personal time" to her.

I guess I can't mock too much...we all have a past :) Here is one of MY journal entries (to be fair).

October 2nd 2001
Justin broke up with me. I'm fine. Maybe we will end up together, maybe not. All I know is that I have to be worthy of him so I am going to straighten out my life to be worthy of him. Then maybe I won't feel so bad about myself. I'm fine. (To be fair to myself, at 15, almost 16 I really didn't have to pull much together and was pretty friggen worthy of anyone...I wish I could tell that to past self.)

October 3rd 2001 (the VERY next day)
He wants me back. I'm going to be REALLY fine now!

Seriously. What a dork was I hahaha.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I have never known anyone to drink as much diet soda as my mother in law Kris. Never. People may think they know someone to drink more but you honestly don't. On average I'd say she drinks about 64 oz a day. She is never more than 10 feet from a soda. When I went out shopping with her the other day she got a Diet Dr. Pepper at Target for the shop and finished it, then we ran to Costco and she got another one, again finishing it during the shop, and then we ran over to Chipotle and she guzzled down another (not to mention the 12 pack in the fridge that was consumed in two days) and those three were consumed in two hours.

Holy. Cow.

Adam has been begging her to give them up. That is SOOOOOOOOOOOO bad for you to do to your body. She loves them though.

Today she stops for one year. No more soda. She wanted to do a sacrifice since Terry is going to Iraq for a year. I've done this for about three years, and Adam has done this before but this is a TRUE SACRIFICE! I think she'll do it. It will be is probably already hard since she has a diet coke every morning for breakfast, but I think it will be awesome. We are proud of you!