Thursday, May 29, 2014


I've actually finished 3 books in the last month.  And I thought I'd review them for your reading pleasure!  :-)  It's a service I dutifully perform for my faithful followers and fellow readers.  (Note the sarcasm?  I read because I like to read.)
So.... Let's start with Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education by Glenn Beck.
This book is an easy read.  It is clearly written and logically argued.  Many liberals may disagree with this book and try to sabotage it.  Their take is that the only problem with public education is that we are not "investing" enough in our children.  They believe that we need to spend more money to improve our kids' educations.
Unfortunately, statistics paint a different picture.  Despite increasing educational spending, the U.S. has witnessed drops in SAT scores since the 1950s.  The goals of education have been perverted to that standards have been lowered so that everyone is able to perform well and "no child is left behind."  The truth is that academic excellence is no longer pursued.  We are "dumbing down" our education.
Glenn Beck does a great job of dismantling common education myths.  And after reading this book, I am SOOOOOO glad that I home school my daughters!  Glenn Beck said it best:  "The more the federal government has inserted itself into public education over the years, the worse our kids have fared."
For Mother's Day I received the book, I Hate It When Exercise Is the Answer: A Fitness Program for the Soul by Emily Watts.  I read the book in two days... and LOVED it!
I had heard Emily Watts speak at TOFW and her book read just like she spoke - funny, entertaining, and uplifting.  I especially liked the "Exercise" suggestions at the end of each chapter.  They helped me want to better myself.
I especially liked the "Exercise" in chapter 3:  Write down 5 things your mom has done to help you become the person you are today.  Share the list with her if possible.  So here are my 5 things:
     1.  Mom taught me how to pray.  She introduced me to my Heavenly Father.  Her prayers are always so sincere and I know she has a personal relationship with God.  I want to be like her.
     2.  Mom taught me how to create.  My mom is one of the most creative people I know.  She taught me how to use band-saws, markers, scissors, and glue!  I love making things with my mom.
     3.  Mom taught me how to be polite.  I remember once, she spent an entire afternoon teaching my brothers, sister and I how to answer a phone politely.  "McCallisters residence.  Sundy speaking."  :-)
     4.  Mom taught me to keep learning.  Mom is an avid believer in continual education.  She loves learning and has instilled that value into all of us siblings.  Her example with her continual reading, getting her masters degree, etc. is invaluable.
     5.  Mom taught me that "cleanliness is next to Godliness."  Mom LOVES a clean house.  I'm not near as good as she is.  But I do value cleanliness and try to keep my home "mom worthy."  :-)
Most of the time when I read a novel, it is entertaining and I enjoy it, but then I move on.  Not with Brandon Sanderson's book, Words of Radiance.  This book has changed my life and the lives of my family.  We have listened to the first novel in the series and just finished the second book.  This story just keeps getting better and better.
Roshar is an amazing and compelling fantasy world.  The characters are dynamic and vibrant.  And just when you think you've got someone figured out, another piece of the puzzle emerges and everything you thought you knew shifts and refocuses.
Throughout these epic novels, my family has learned about love, hope, honor, betrayal, fear, anger, revenge, mercy and justice.  We have had marvelous discussions about the characters and their choices.  Not only are these wonderful stories but they are wonderful learning opportunities too!
I can't recommend this book series highly enough!  I'm soooooo grateful my little brother recommended them to me, I've recommended them to everyone else.  :-)  We cannot wait for book 3!


May is almost over.  Where has it gone?   It seems I blinked this month... and it's disappeared.
Two weeks ago, we got to have Elder Tolman (Justin) come visit with his parents.  Justin was one of our all time favorite missionaries that served in the area.  He was so excited about the gospel.  And he has a great personality to boot!  (We also loved that he  liked the same things we do.  ie. Star Wars, Star Trek, Danny Elfman, film music, etc. etc. etc.)  And we loved getting to know his parents as we spent a Monday night (FHE) with them.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  They are GREAT people!  I just wished they lived closer since Utah is so far away!
Last week my parents came to visit for an entire week!  It was WONDERFUL!  We wish they could stay forever... we already miss them!
While they were here, we got to take them to Church with us!  The girls loved "showing off" their awesome grandparents.  We also went walking/hiking in the beautiful, giant park between Louisville and Shelbyville.  It was a gorgeous day and lots of fun.
Then my parents decided to spoil us rotten with service.  Dad organized and cleaned out our garage (which really needed it - but Scott couldn't do, due to his hand surgery.)  Dad also helped us with fertilizing our garden and harvesting our honey.  Not to mention, he taught the girls how to make a mouth bow (which is a really cool instrument that you play by plucking and using your mouth as a sounding box).
Mom helped me organize my kitchen, pantry and food storage.  It was soooooooo helpful!  And fun to work side by side with her.  We also played over 10 games of Scrabble.  (I actually won one game against her and Scott - which means I get to brag about that for a year!)  And mom also spent quite a few hours reading out-loud to Key Lime Pie and Kotten Kandy as they cut tubes for Scott's work.  The girls' LOVED the book (the first book in the Children of the Promise series by Lund) and really appreciated the quality time they got to spend with Grandma Mil.
Wednesday night was a bit exciting.  There was a huge thunder storm.  Grandpa Mac and the girls went to a concert and we were a bit distraught about them driving home in the stormy conditions.  At the same time, the power went out in most of our county.  We were without power from 7 p.m. to early Thursday morning.  It was an exciting night.  Luckily, Dad and the girls got home alright.  Amy ended up coming over for a few hours too, due to the storm and locking herself out of her dark house.  (She had lost power also.)  It was an scary and intense evening, but we are all OK.
Mom and Dad were also able to stay for my studio recital on Thursday night.  I have 12 students who performed.  And they all did a really nice job.  I was super proud of them.  Key Lime Pie sang a gorgeous version of "Hold On" from the musical, The Secret Garden.  Kotten Kandy made us all laugh when she sang "My New Philosophy" from the musical, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.  I have talented (and gorgeous) daughters!
Memorial Day was a beautiful day!  We discussed the reason for the holiday and thanks my dad for his service to our country.  We also BBQed with the Bettenhausens.  (By we, I mean, Scott BBQed!  - He is so talented when it comes to grilling!)  We had a delicious dinner and then played games the rest of the day.  It was fun!
It has been an amazing two weeks!!!!!

Monday, May 12, 2014


Happy Mother's Day!  - I have 2 WONDERFUL mothers!  And I am truly grateful for both of them and their loving examples.  I know that words are not adequate to express the deep feelings I have for these wonderful women.  - But I do appreciate all they do for me and my family!  Thank you!
I also had a GREAT Mother's Day.  I was spoiled rotten by my husband and two gorgeous daughters.  I got to:
     eat orange danish rolls for breakfast,
     eat Scott's homemade, time-consuming, delicious, sesame chicken for dinner (and shared with my best friend, Amy!),
     take a nap,
     and watch the season finale of Once Upon a Time (which totally played with our emotions at the end...  We went from happy, to angry, to laughing hysterically in the space of the last 5 minutes.  Amy and I laughed until we cried.)
My family also spoiled me with gifts.  (I make no secret that I enjoy a small gift - but they went above and beyond.)  I got the Pride and Prejudice DVD starring Colin Firth.  (Yes, my daughters and I LOVE Mr. Darcy!)  I also got a book by Emily Watts (who I saw at TOFW).  She is so funny!  The book title says it all:  "I Hate It When Exercise is the Answer."  My family also got me The Addams Family Musical song book.  (I love these songs.  They make me laugh.  Especially: "I'm Crazier Than You" and "Just One Night")
I also got an AWESOME CD by Vocal Point.  Their newest release is Spectrum, and it ROCKS!  Dove chocolates (my favorite) were also included in my gift basket.  Talk about spoiled!
In other news:  Look at my mailbox!  Isn't it gorgeous?  I LOVE the purple flowers.  They make me soooooooooo happy!!!!!!!
And Kotten Kandy finally (after 2 years) purchased her hunting bow.  It is totally cool!  And she is totally excited.  She shows it off every chance she gets.  And she can't wait to learn how to shoot it better... and go hunting.  Thank you, Schmids, for helping us get the "right one" since Scott and I know NOTHING about bows and arrows.  The Schmids are such amazing friends!  We LOVE them!
We also had lots of company this week.  Egg Plant came to stay with us for the week while her host family was out of town.  She is AWESOME!  We had so much fun with her and wish she could stay with us indefinitely.  She is an amazing young woman from Brazil.  We love her!
Scott's sister, Kerri, and her husband, Mark, also came to visit.  Although their stay was SUPER short.  (TOO short.)  We have really missed being near family and it was great to visit with them one evening.  They spent the night and left the next morning.  Kerri is amazing and I wish we lived closer.  We love them too!!!!!
I have always wanted a family wall.  (family wall - (n.) a wall full of family pictures.)  So my sweet husband helped me put this together this week in our hall way.  It's AWESOME, if I say so myself.  (I just did.)  It makes me smile to see pictures of my family (lots of my sweet daughters - past and present).  I love walking through my hallway right now.
And finally:  The girls performed in their final show choir concert last week.  All the girls did a fantastic job!  And I really do enjoy directing these kids.  It's rewarding to see them succeed and love sharing their talents.  I love kids!  I'd adopt the entire 15 girl choir if I could.  They are awesome young women!  I can't wait for next year to start again!  We videoed the performance and hope to have it up on the blog soon....  We are trying to figure out Scott's new video camera...  So stay tuned.