Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

First Day with Eli

Finally Eli and I get to meet.  And of course he only had two things on his mind...eating and sleeping.
This was him sleeping when we went to the Thai restaurant and the French bakery.

It was a hot day and his cheeks were red. 
I checked his fingers
and toes.
He slept through dinner
and then wanted special food.
We did get to hang out a little before he returned to his other favorite activity again.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Introducing (drum roll) Eli!

I've heard such great things about being a grand parent and now that I am one I don't know what to do with myself!  Everyone keeps asking what it feels like to be a Grandpa and when I think about it I feel the same--except happier!  But I haven't gotten out there to hold that baby yet, but I will be there soon and maybe after I hold that baby for a while then I will know what it feels like to be a Grandpa.  We'll see.

Here are some great pictures of Eli taken by the photographer Monica Fisco who is the sister of the photographer we have used for several other family photo shoots.

What I want to know is who bought that cool happenin hat?

Who you gonna call?  Granpa!

Monday, June 11, 2012

What I've Been Reading #18

Library of Congress: Washington DC
I enjoy reading many kinds of books and in this group I unusually have read two non fiction books along with another that often feels like it isn't fiction.  A range from a book for a middle schooler to books about life that surely will appeal to adults that want to find more about what life is all about.  This is a good group of books that I would recommend to anyone.  Read and live!

Heaven is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy by Stephanie Nielson

Maybe the most incredible book I have read this year is how I would describe the story of Stephanie Nielson and her husband crashing in the small plane they were in along with his flight instructor.  Both of them were burned over large portions of their body (He 50% and she 80%) and the fight back to surviving and then living a normal life is truly incredible.  She does a good job of delving into the feelings she had and almost giving up several times.  She tells what seems to be small portions of multiple NDE (Near Death Experiences) and other spiritual experiences that ultimately lead to her pushing forward to really doing all she could to aid her body in the healing process.  The culmination of the book is something not surprising after you get to know her, but something nevertheless miraculous considering all that she has been through.
One of the best things about this book is how open she is in sharing her memories and feelings.  The writing style she uses brings you in and helps you feel like you are right there.  I highly recommend this book for anyone who has ever felt like they couldn't do another things or anyone who has wondered how others might overcome huge obstacles that appear as miracles to the rest of the human race.

Stephanie Nielson writes an ongoing blog that you may be interested to look at which can can go to by clicking here. 

I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson

Emma is in middle school, she lives with her mother has red hair and she is much taller than all the girls and most of the boys and doesn't want to play on the basketball team, and doesn't know who her dad is.  To top it all off she has the last name of Freke.  So it is hard for her to feel a part of things.  She is immature socially and is shy and just doesn't seem to fit in. She is so different from her mother and relatives that it is no surprise when her friend convinces her she must be adopted.  When she does approach her mother with that question she does end up getting much more information about herself than she had before including who her Dad is.  Before she knows it she is at a family reunion by herself with a bunch of Frekes.  There she learns that just because she looks a lot like the family doesn't mean she fits in entirely.  From this experience she learns that she is more like her mother than she thought and now she begins to  grow and learn about herself and how her choices can help shape who she becomes. 
This is a good book for middle school students who often feel out of place out of time and like they are adopted. 

Life Rocks! How Firm is Your Foundation by John Bytheway

John Bytheway is well known in the LDS community for his talks and books for teenagers.  His books explain in ways that all can understand how important religion is in everyday life.  He explains deep and important things in ways that get us to laugh at ourselves rather than be overwhelmed and trod underfoot by life.  In this book he describes five foundational "rocks" in life: My Identity, My Savior, My Standards, My Purpose, and My Neighbor.  As usual he does so in an upbeat manner with lots of fun and lots of learning going on.  This is a good quick read for the teens it is true, but it is also enjoyable for adults as well.  After all our foundational rocks are all the same.

The Road to Grace (The Walk) by Richard Paul Evans

Richard Paul Evans continues his series starring Alan Christoffersen.  His life fell apart and now he is walking across the country in an attempt to find himself.  In this book both his past and present come together to teach him why he is taking this walk.  He isn't clear on how he expects this walk to help but he wants to continue despite the difficulties and being mugged in an earlier book.  Here part of his past comes to haunt him and he finds himself learning that people are more important than the offenses that they can cause.  When he gets to know people-even bad people-he finds that it is harder to hold grudges and as he lets go of his grudges he begins to see freedom at the end of the tunnel and the end of his walk.  The 1000 miles or so that are covered in this walk don't go by easily as he has some difficulties but everytime the difficulties, when he pushes through, leads to some important lesson. 
I really enjoyed this book.  I have to admit that in addition to seeing the main character growing I find it enjoyable as he describes the scenery and the little towns along the way with the variety of odd things that people have built and done which become the local legends along the way.  An easy and enjoyable read.   

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. ~Author Unknown

 The largest book in the world is in Szinpetri Hungary.  It is entitled 'Our Fragile Natural Heritage'
It was written/made by Bela Varga, his wife and 25 volunteers.  It is 13.71 x 12.36 ft and weighs 3.124 pounds and is 346 pages long. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sometimes We Get It Right

Anthony Smith is a four year old that has no hearing in one ear and only limited hearing in the other ear.  You probably wouldn't be surprised to know that he decided that he doesn't like wearing his hearing aid.  Sounds like a kid.  He told his Mom that he wouldn't wear his "blue ear" hearing aid because, superheroes don't wear hearing aids.

That makes perfect sense for a four year old.  It also revealed what was important to him, for example, superheroes are currently his mentors, he is interested in that job possibility in the future and wants to prepare for that eventuality now, and obviously he is thinking of his future and wearing a "blue ear" didn't fit his vision.

Anthony's Mom apparently was not an expert on superheroes so she wisely consulted with someone who was.  She emailed Marvel comics and ask if there was a hearing impaired hero and they responded that Hawkeye was indeed hearing impaired.

But Marvel didn't stop there and before they were done they sent some drawings as you can see below.

Isn't it nice that people can come through for others once in a while?  Isn't great that a company that exists to make money and produce entertainment can see more than the masses and can see the needs of one little boy and come through for him?  And that Super Heroes not only sometimes need a hearing aid but that every super hero needs a Mom to lead him in the right direction?  Hurray for Mom's who help us find reasons why we CAN reach our potential instead of let us be satisfied with reasons that keep us from being our best selves.  Thanks Mom!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

What I've been reading #17

Trinity College Library
As things are changing int he world of books right now I can't help but wonder what a future library will look like.  Nowadays we have large buildings with shelves and shelves of books.  One day we may have our libraries totally on the internet.  There already are many books online that are so old that they cannot be safely loaned from libraries, so when a person wants one of these books they go to the online libraries.  It may come a time when we will have books that are on our e-readers entirely and not on shelves in our homes.  Maybe like DVDs when we purchase a book it will come in paper and an e-copy will come with it so we can reader it either way we like.  While it is true that this area of our lives is changing right now, we undoubtedly will still have our favorite books that we want to feel solid in our hands and that have our markings, thoughts and underlinings in the margins.  Will the beautiful libraries we have now become museums some day?
Alma by H.B. Moore
After Abinadi's death in the first book of the series, a surprising convert from the Priests of King Noah leaves the city and starts a colony of those wishing to follow the one true God.  Alma defies the king and ends up fleeing repeatedly as first King Noah and then the head Priest keep trying to punish him for following God instead of King Noah.  Through it all they learn the lessons that have been repeated through all cultures:  When you follow God you are blessed and when you don't you are left on your own which leads to all kinds of additional troubles. 

Heather Moore has done a great job in both increasing the understanding and connections of the scriptures involved as well as filling in the daily life and human drama of a time that is both very different and very similar to our own.  In my opinion this book was even better than the first one.

Ranger's Apprentice: Book 6: The Siege of Macindaw by John Flanagan

John Flanagan does it again by putting together a nice story that appeals to the young people who read it.  Will continues from the previous book to have his first major adventure as a full-fledged Ranger.  Horace joins him to save the realm from a treacherous knight who takes over a castle only to sell it to some enemies of the nation and give them a foothold in the Araluen nation--which naturally would lead to extreme difficulties for the security of the surrounding towns and counties.
Will learns a variety of lessons about trickery and treachery as well as making things looking different than they are.  It is interesting that John Flanagan has started including is some swear words in this volume.  Possibly he figures as Will grows older that is more appropriate.  Despite the fact that by today's standards they are mild they are still totally unnecessary.  The interplay between the two young men is still gentle and enjoyable.  They still prize honor and treating others kindly according to what they deserve, and they still are learning about making tough decisions that are required of defenders of the realm.  I enjoyed the book and still find it a great series with the one exception of a handful of swear words.  Since Will is growing and maturing as well there is the introduction of romance in this volume as well.  Click here to see a bit more information in a short review.

Consequences: A Retrieval Artist Novel by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Kristine Rusch has done it again with another enjoyable read.  I was trying to guess why I am finding it so interesting to read stories about a "retrieval artist" on the moon.  I think I enjoy reading about humans living on the moon but that is only the back drop to the story of a person who investigates and finds people who have taken on a new identity to escape something in their previous life.   Why is that interesting?--possibly because it is so foreign and possibly because it differs so much from my own life.

At any rate Miles Flint again finds himself taking a case and then wondering if he should have rejected it.  When his case coincides with other things happening on the moon in the Armstrong Dome that criss cross his case, he finds himself being blamed for a murder that he most certainly did not commit.  He escapes to earth so that he can investigate and find out what is really going on. 

Seeing earth from the future was enjoyable in this book.  Just when you thought the book would need another 200 pages to wrap things up it came to an enjoyably quick conclusion.  Interesting reading. 

How To Be A Sister: A Love Story With a Twist of Autism by Eileen Garvin
This is a very honest and open look at what it was like for Ms. Garvin as she grew up with five siblings one of which had autism.  Few holds were barred as she described the embarrasment and anxiety as well as the love and caring that took place in their home.  Possibly with a saint for a mother and a balancing father their home was very much defined by her autistic sister.

It goes back and forth from their childhood experiences to more recent times where Ms. Garvin has a desire to have a sisterly relationship but keeps finding that autism gets in the way. Despite her best efforts she and her sister cannot have the normal relationship Ms. Garvin desires because autism will not allow it.  However; due to her repeated attempts and persistance they are able to have a sometimes fulfilling relationship. 

This book does an excellent job in opening up a family from another child's perspective and letting us see what growing up in that home is like.  The author does express things in ways that I find bothersome or offensive with swear words at times, however they always are used as an expression of negative emotions and though I do not express my negative emotions that way I found it clearly understandable that someone with different standards might choose to do so, consequently they did not deter me from the rich exploration into her own feelings about her sister and her family that has resulted. 

I recommend this book to any who want to see a way to acceptance of a sibling that doesn't meet the family norm and to know that others may not have always been at their best inside their families.  The feelings expressed here are powerful and caused me to pause and consider things in my own home. 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Extremely loud and incrediby Close: the movie

I finally got to watch this movie and I'm glad that I did.

Click her to see what I wrote about the book when I read that. 

The other night my daughter brought this movie home for us to watch.  I had wanted to watch it since it came out.  Needless to say that 9 11 has been an important happening in our lives.  To have a movie that attempted to tackle that from a young boys perpective really got my interest. 
THOMAS HORN as Oskar Schell in Warner Bros. Pictures' drama 'EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE,' a W...
The movie did an excellent job in my opinion in showing the grief of a young boy for his father's death in that disaster.  The boy has aspergers syndrome so you shouldn't expect him to act exactly like your average boy in his grief nor in his daily life.  I felt like the movie did an excellent job of showing this throughout the movie. 
(L-r) THOMAS HORN as Oskar and TOM HANKS as Oskar’s father in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “EX...
Similar to the book the movie did an excellent job of showing how the father played by Tom Hanks was a perfect father for him, engaging his son and showing his son how much he was loved despite or maybe because of his peculiarities.  That is what really impressed me with the book was the relationship between father and son.  The father turns out to be an excellent model of how we must accept our child where they are and provide the love and security that wll allow them to flourish.  The father in this movie was trying to help his son learn how to interact with others (a typical weakness had by those with asperger's syndrom) and in that way stretch his son beyond his bounds. 
(L-r) THOMAS HORN as Oskar Schell and TOM HANKS as Thomas Schell in Warner Bros. Pictures' drama 'EX...
The book contrasted this good father (Tom Hanks) with the grandfather who had not been presnt in the fathe's life.   Much of that was absent from the movie and all the things I found objectonable in the book were left out as well making the movie more powerful in the showing the relationship between the father and the son who are the central characters (this despite the fact that the father is shown in flashbacks). 
SANDRA BULLOCK as Linda Schell in Warner Bros. Pictures' drama 'EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE,' ...
The movie however flipped this lesson on it's head and did an excellent job by showing something else better than the book managed.  While the whole book and movie seem to be about that father son relationship, the end of the movie lets us see something tha we missed or didn't see clearly throughout the show, that is the mother's relationship to the son and how integral it is.  Sandra Bullock does a good job of acting the part of the mother who is left out of their child's life.
SANDRA BULLOCK as Linda Schell and THOMAS HORN as Oskar Schell in Warner Bros. Pictures' drama 'EXTR...
Toward the end of the movie the son says to the mother: "I ddn't know you could think like me." and she responds that she didn't know that either.  With that enlightening moment we are able to see some of the things differently throughout the movie.  Yes, the boy has lost a perfect father for him, but because of that loss we are now able to see that the mother can become that perfect parent for him too, and that is a revelation to both of the characters in the movie and maybe to the viewers as well.  This movie starts out being about the father-son relationship but ends up spotlighting the mother-son relationship.   It is a movie for both parents, a movie where both can feel valued and see their potential even with the exceptional child portrayed in the movie.   

I probably will not read the book again but I would watch the movie again and I would consider reading another book by the author.  By the way, be prepared to shed a tear at this movie. 

Watch the trailer below. 

The sound track is exceptional as well an is done by Alexandre Desplat

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Modern Hero #8: Claire Lomas the bionic woman

Late is not always a bad thing. 

In the London Marathon this year the very last competitor to cross the finish line (the last of 36,000) was Claire Lomas.  She was not only last but she passed the finish line 16 days after the race was over.  Oh, she started with all the rest but that is how long it took her to complete her dream.  You see Claire is not your typical athlete.  She was paralyzed from the chest down in a horse riding accident back in 2007.  For many people that would certainly end any dreams of marathoning.  But not Claire.

How could someone paralysed from he chest down possibly complete a marathon?  Well she wore the Re-walk suite.  The Re-walk suit is an exoskeleton that helps people stand and walk again and is made by ARGO Medical Technologies Ltd.  (Check out a video at the bottom of the blog if you would like to know more about this device.)

Back to Claire Lomas: You need to know that even with the suit it took a lot of practice for her to be able to walk that distance in that suit.  One thing that the suit has not overcome is keeping balance and that is the reason for the need of the canes.  You may have noticed Claire's husband Dan walking in step with her to help her maintain her balance.  If you look closely at the video below you can even see her daughter Maize too. 

Claire has clearly done something that many thought was impossible and I for one am grateful for her sacrifice to once again show the world that desire and effort can come together to do the impossible. 
Due to the rules of the marathon, Claire did not receive a medal when she completed it so many days late.  But several of the runners who did receive a medal donated them to her for her great effort.

Here is the video about the Re-walker.  Interestingly enough Dr. Amit Goffer the designer of the Re-walker is himself in a wheel chair and though he has designed the Re-walker it is not able to help him to overcome his physical problems to be able to walk. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What I've Been Reading #16

The book igloo: what would yours look like if books you've read in your life were used.  Would it be to small for you to live in?  Would it be embarrassing what you had been reading?  Or would it be a strong structure that helped you become the person you have always wanted to be?
Reading gives us the chance to test ourselves without the reality of experience.  We may want to know how it would feel to live with a controlling government that didn't foster the growth and freedoms of it's people.  We may wish to experience adventures that do not exist in our time or life.  We may want to feel to test the fears of an uncertain tomorrow without living through it or maybe in preparation of it.  We may want to understand how our minds work and what are the traps that our decisions so easily fall into.  Generally we read to understand not just the world around us but to understand ourselves and our part in the world.  We want to challenge ourselves but also want to imagine how we could succeed even in the most difficult times.  Reading not only can strengthen us, increase our knowledge and help us prepare for the future but it can help us imagine ourselves to be better people who may...or may not have the opportunity to prove it in ways similar to the heroes in the books.

Crossed by Ally Condie
Crossed continues the story of Cassie, Ky and Xander in a dystopian future.  Cassie begins to have questions and determines to seek for answers even when the choices to do so are uncomfortable and sometimes even daring (which is not highly valued in her society).  She follows Ky until she is able to meet up with him and trying to escape the control of the government she seeks to understand the reasons why her world is so controlling.  Naturally there is the love story/triangle between the three and she learns that their connections are more than she knows.  Ultimately the story gives some answers and then returns them to a place where answers to greater questions will be revealed in the next book.  This story is enjoyable.  I find it comparable to the Hunger Games without the violence.  So if you enjoy that sort of reading you may well enjoy this book.  If you would like to read another review of the book click here. 

Ranger's Apprentice: Book 5: The Sorcerer of the North by John Flanagan
Will is now a full fledged ranger.  He is new and young but he has built a great reputation due to his exploits in the previous books.  He is assigned to a district in the kingdom that is not known for problems but of course they begin to pop up.  Will using his daring and good sense begins to unravel what is real and what isn't.  Fortunately he is aided by Alyss who enters the story as a spy disguised as a royal from an adjoining kingdom.  Halt is a distance away and is concerned about his previous apprentice and sends additional help in the form of another friend.  The story unfolds well and we see Will struggle to determine what is happening and what is needed.  He makes errors in whom he can trust and learns from them.  The book ends somewhat abruptly and we are fortunate that the next one is readily available and we need not wait for its publication.  If you would like to read a good review of this book please click here.   

Last Light by Terri Blackstock
Last Light is the first book in a series called Restoration.  It begins when the world changes overnight as all electronics become useless.  Nothing works that requires computers or electricity.  We go back hundreds of years overnight so to speak.  The Bannings live in Alabama and are an affluent family that has been spoiled by success and they live in a neighborhood where everyone has done similarly. The process of maintaining that success has not led to knowing their neighbors well but with the new reality they find themselves needing each other very much.  Old prejudices come forward as well as new alliances.  Those who were prone to cheating become more so, while some determine to cooperate more and a few even increase their faith and reliance on God.  While this book is not strictly an end of the world type scenario (at least not yet) it is a story that illuminates what many of us fear--losing all the technology that allows us to be as selfish and independent as we are.  This is a Christian novel but in this volume the believers seem a little stilted and not fully converted...yet.  But as is typical with God, when we ignore Him there are multiple opportunities to be reminded and to turn ourselves back to him. 
How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
This was an excellent nonfiction book that deals with how our brains make appropriate decisions, and the kind of decisions that can trick our brains.  The thing that really makes this book readable and understandable as he deals with discussions of brain chemistry and neurology is the great examples in real life activities.  He delves into a variety of studies that support the idea that our brains have two functional decision making systems that not only make decisions on different types of things but also have their areas of weakness.  The books teaches and then encourages us to use both systems and then to know when one is better suited than the other.  I found this to be very enlightening as well as enjoyable reading.  Give it a try. 

"The books which help you the most are those which make you think the most."
Theodore Parker   Minister

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