Monday, December 27, 2010

30 by 30, #24: Listen to The Messiah in its entirety (sing along when possible)

In case you aren't familiar with the 30 by 30 Project, here is the original post, with the big fat list.

As I'm sure you are aware, I'm a music lover. I play the piano, I sing, I used to dance, (I miss the dancing. Sigh.), and I listen. And I've always loved The Messiah. It's an inspired piece of work, and I get goosebumps just thinking about the Hallelujah chorus. (I've got to move to Philadelphia. Random Act of Culture? Yes please! Though, they did it in Michigan, too. I like that they called that one a Random Act of Joy. Sure, it's not as professional, but it's still inspiring.) But I came to realize that I don't think I've ever sat down and listened to the whole thing. We have it on CD, and we listen to it at Christmas time, but I haven't ever just sat and listened. I listen to my favorite choruses, and then the other pieces are either relegated to background music or skipped over. So I decided the time had come.

Then I realized that I'm a stay at home mom of 2 little girls, and it's virtually impossible for me to have 2 solid hours of free time. So I decided to break it up into parts, as The Messiah itself is so conveniently broken into parts itself. I actually listened to Parts I and II during a single naptime, which was amazing. I kept waiting for someone to wake up, but they never did. Part III was later that evening. I followed along on the score for most of it, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Very inspiring. "Worthy Is the Lamb that Was Slain?" I was not very familiar with that chorus, and now it is definitely one of my favorites. I now appreciate Isaiah a bit more and his poetic words. Also makes me want to go to a sing along.

Oh wait! We did go to a sing along! A lady in our ward put one together for the day after Christmas. Except I wasn't singing. I was playing the piano or turning pages. I'm not exactly sure why we agreed to play the piano for that, Handel is hard stuff, but we did, and it turned out fine. My one wish is that I could have been singing. Maybe next year?

30 by 30, #11: Read Anna Karenina

In case you aren't familiar with the 30 by 30 Project, here is the original post, with the big fat list.

Back in high school a friend bought me a copy of Anna Karenina for my birthday (I think it was my 16th birthday, and I think it was Ann or Angela, for those who were around back then). I thought it was an awesome gift. I was all about classic novels, and I really liked the picture on the cover.

I know. The picture on the cover is, like, THE most important thing when you are choosing a book to read. And when it's an impressionist painting of a red-head with a piano? Destiny. (I love teenage girl logic.) This was also back in my ballet days, and since Anna Karenina was made into a ballet, and Ballet West performed it, and we went and saw it, I thought this book was even more awesome. So I started reading it.

And then I stopped reading it.

And then I started reading it again.

And then I stopped reading it again.

The cycle continued for years. That's right: years. This is a common problem with books I own. Library books have a due date, and thus a date to be finished by. Books I own, not so much. And so they sit on my shelf for months and years, untouched as I plow through my list of books on hold at the library (though, that can't happen anymore because the library charges $0.25 per hold, and I think that's ridiculous) (stupid library) (I didn't mean it! I still love you, library!).

I kept saying that someday I'd finish what I'd started. And by that, I mean restart the book and read the whole thing. The 30 by 30 Project was the perfect opportunity to force myself to do it.

Well, folks, yesterday was the day. Last night I completed all 800 pages of Anna Karenina.

I'm not going to lie, I was really worried about how long this book would take to read. It's 800 pages. Small print. By Tolstoy. You know, the guy who wrote War and Peace. So I was all geared up to be reading this book for months, forcing it down my throat no matter how much I didn't want it.

28 days. That's all it took. Less than a month.

Ok. So. Would you like a review? There might be some spoilers, so be forewarned.

For starters, I loved it. It was so well written, and the plot moved really well. It's a parallel plot, really, of Anna Karenina and Konstantin Levin. And there are so many little things that I loved. Like how much Levin enjoys physical labor, and that a hard days work makes him feel happier than anything else in the world. Or the sheer happiness Levin has when Kitty agrees to marry him. Or the way Levin stands up for fidelity in marriage and tells Oblonsky that he simply cannot understand how anyone can have an affair. OK, so most of the stuff I loved was Levin.

Anna's story could be called, "Why You Shouldn't Have an Affair." It's very sad and depressing. She makes a decision, and most definitely has to pay for her choice. She loses her son, her friends, her place in society, and all for her love of Vronsky. But she knew that's what would happen when she made the choice. She had to have known. And all the rationalization in the world doesn't change the fact that she broke a vow and brought it all upon herself. While I was constantly frustrated by Anna's situation, poor choices, and intense emotional displays (I wanted to yell out, "Grow up! Quit acting like a child!"), I still enjoyed reading it. (Sort of like New Moon. Bella is an idiot, but we still want to read it.)

But I think my absolute favorite part of the book is the last few chapters, when Levin discovers that life is worth living, and realizes that there is a God. I wasn't expecting it to take a religious turn, but I loved it when it did. I especially love that he isn't brought to believe that there is a God; instead he sees that he's known it all along, and it was just clouded by his intellect all these years. He didn't learn something new, it was given to him from the beginning. He heard a truth and it resonated within him. I love that. That we all know truth when we hear it. Maybe I'm not explaining it well, but trust me, it was good.

So, there you have it. Anna Karenina, DONE.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Good Instructions

Since Ella has absolutely no desire to drink milk from a bottle, and yet was enthralled to see Julia drinking from a sippy cup today, I told Julia to show Ella how it's done. And then Julia came up with the running commentary.

"First, you bring it up to your mouth. Then you take a drink. Then you take a break, and you say this word: 'Ahhhh.'"

Weekly Quote 12/20/10

"From Atlantic to Pacific,
Gee the traffic is terrific!"

There's no place like home for the holidays. But this line makes no sense to me. Since when is traffic terrific? New quote up!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

For the Grandmas: 12/14/10

Yeah, this might not be a weekly event. Anyway. Here is a video of Julia being a fairy godmother. It's kind of long, but I find it entertaining.

No video of Ella, just this adorable picture:

Good grief I love these girls.

Weekly Quote 12/13/10

"Sorry I shot the island."

This was from my new favorite show, Modern Family. Wow, that show is funny. And really not offensive. There might be some occasional swearing, and there is a gay couple (which I guess offends some people, but not me), and Gloria's cleavage is always showing, but that is it. No dirty jokes. Just funny.

New quote up!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

For the Grandmas 12/3/10

So, I meant to post something on Friday, I really did. And then I hit a button and broke the internet. All day long, I was without internet. Luckily Clark worked some magic and fixed it. But then it was the weekend, and things got busy, and I never did get a video of Julia. But Ella is the one who changes so much, so I have decided to just post what I've got, hang the consequences.

So. No Julia. But you get 2 Ella videos! The first is the one I originally intended to post on Friday. Ella being Ella, on 12/3/10.

The second is a montage of Ella laughing her guts out while I was playing with her, and Ella showing off her newest skill: blowing raspberries.

30 by 30 #12: Read the Old Testament all the way through

I know that I've already talked about this one, but I'm pretty proud of this accomplishment, and decided that it needed it's own 30 by 30 post.

I set out to read the Old Testament from cover to cover in January of 2006, because that is what we were reading in Sunday School. I got through Genesis and Exodus, and felt pretty good about myself. I trudged through Leviticus and Numbers with a little less enthusiasm. Somewhere around Deuteronomy I felt like giving up. But I kept going. I didn't get around to it every day, but I kept going. I mentioned to Clark that I was slowing down and having a hard time getting excited about the Old Testament, and he suggested that we read it together. I thought this was a fabulous idea. So we started reading as a family. Well, really as a couple, because that was all our family was at the time.

We'd stop and start, read every day, read once a month. We read with Julia when she came along (who could be found saying, "Son of Man!" around the house when we were reading Ezekiel), and with Ella when she showed up. And finally, FINALLY, we finished it. On our way out to Michigan. In October 2010. It sure took us long enough, but we did it.

And I'm really glad we did. Not only do I feel a sense of accomplishment, but it's nice to have some idea of what is in the Bible, especially those books at the end. And I do feel like I learned a lot, and had testimony building experiences. I'm not rearing to start up in Genesis again, but I did enjoy it for the most part.

2 down. 28 to go.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Weekly Quote 12/6/10

"And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."
Isaiah. And Handel. Good stuff. New quote up!