My Family

My Family

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

January's Book List - 12 Books

Today, I'd like to post my list of books that I read in January. I decided to keep track of the books I read this year, so I'm recording them in a word document on my desktop. Easy, right? January was a good reading month for me. I read a TON! Some of the books good, and some were great...

Last year, I started reading the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series. I liked the first book - The Lightening Thief. It had an interesting premise, and I enjoyed learning more about Greek mythology. So, in January I decided to try to finish the series. Not only did I finish that series, but I also read the 2 books in Rick Riordan's next series, Heroes of Olympus.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan

Book 2 - The Sea of Monsters

In this book, 13-year-old demigod, Percy Jackson, and some friends, must rescue his satyr friend, Grover, from the Cyclops Polyphemus, and save Camp Half Blood from a Titan's attack by bringing back the Golden Fleece to cure Thalia's poisoned pine tree.

Book 3 - The Titan's Curse

Now 14 years old, Percy leads a group of friends to rescue Annabeth and the Goddess Artemis, who have both been kidnapped.

Book 4 - The Battle of the Labyrinth

Percy tries to stop Luke Castellan and his evil army from invading Camp Half-Blood through Daedalus's labyrinth. He tries to find Daedalus and convince him not to give Luke Ariadne's string, which would help Luke through the Labyrinth.

Book 5 - The Last Olympians

Percy leads his friends, including a mortal who can see through the mist, in a last battle to protect Olympus. The battle takes place in New York City, at the Empire State Building - the entrance to Olympus. (I bet you didn't know that!)

Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Book 1 - The Lost Hero

A new group of teenage demigods star in this novel, which still has many of the characters from Camp Half Blood. Jason wakes up as a demigod, and has no idea where he's come from. The group at Camp Half Blood welcome him and two other demigods into camp. These new demigods have Roman mythology parents instead of Greek. The three are sent on a quest to rescue Hera, queen of the Gods.

Book 2 - The Son of Neptune

This story follows Percy Jackson, the demigod son of Poseidan, after he disappears. He ends up in a completely different camp of halfbloods, where Roman myths rule. He goes to Alaska to free the Greek god of death, Thanatos, and save the world from Gaia.

This series is even better than the last series- it has the characters from the Percy Jackson series, but adds several more. Riordan adds the Roman Gods/myths to the story in these books. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Beautifully written - jumps between modern day and the Salem witch trials. A woman who is pursuing her graduate degree in Early American History, stumbles on a book of "spells", and discovers that her early ancestor was one of the women tried and convicted of being a witch in Salem, MA - an unknown, undocumented witch. Interesting story.

The Litigators by John Grisham

As story about mass tort lawyers - amazing how much money and corruption is out there! A lawyer who works for a huge law firm, and makes lots of money, gets tired of working so many hours and never having time for his family. One day he just leaves. After "having lunch" at a bar, he drunkenly stumbles into a small law firm. The story unfolds as he starts to work for this law firm, which is run by 2 semi-corrupt, bumbling lawyers... the type that literally chase ambulances. As one of the partners jumps into a mass tort case, things quickly begin to unravel. Typical Grisham novel - engrossing. One of his better novels.

Book of a Thousand Day by Shannon Hale

Retold story from the Brothers Grimm - loved this book! A young princess refuses to marry someone she doesn't love, and she and her maid are banished to a tower for 7 years. This is a story about falling in love, loyalty, perseverance, friendship, honesty. Wonderful story! This book is in the Young Adult Fiction genre - one I read quite a bit. If you are only shopping in the Adult sections of the bookstore, you'll miss out on some great books.

Bitten by Robert Smith

This is an LDS fiction, a story about a missionary who is called to Tennessee and thinks his life is over. He serves almost his whole mission in Thelma's Way - a geniune back-woods town, meets the girl of his dreams, and after his mission, returns to claim her. This book was hilarious! I laughed out loud many times! A good, clean, fun story - with some great life lessons.

Fearless in High Heels by Gemma Halliday

This is the 5th book in the series. I read the other 4 last year. It's a fun series about a girl (Maddie) who designs shoes in Hollywood. Her best friend, Dana, is an actress. Her mom is married to a guy who owns a salon. It seems like Maddie is a magnet for dead bodies. She and her friends try to solve murders, and earlier in the series, she meets a detective named Ramirez. They end up getting married. In this book, she is pregnant with their first baby. I love the characters in this series. It's just a fun, entertaining read.

Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors

I thought this was a fun idea for a book. The book cover is what attracted me to the book. An actress who plays Juliet on stage at her family's theater, gets whisked back in time to Verona - and Juliet and Romeo's lives. The actor who plays Romeo also travels back in time. They save Romeo and Juliet, and fall in love themselves. Fun!

12 Books! I told you January was a good reading month!! I also started a book called Bad Buys of the Book of Mormon by Dennis Gaunt.

I'm planning on reading a chapter each Sunday, so it will take a couple of months to finish. So far, it's very entertaining.

So, that's it. If you live by me, and want to borrow some of these books, be my guest. The only books I can't lend out are the books owned by my kids - the Percy Jackson books are Matthew's.

Stay tuned next month for February's books...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

2012 So Far... A Wild Ride For Grant

What a crazy couple of weeks! 2012 has started out with a bang in our family.

Grant, our oldest son, just about died! He was super sick for about a week and a half (around the time of my surgery and for the first little bit of my recovery). So, I didn't pay as much attention to his illness as I should have.

He kind of had a flu, and he was in a LOT of pain as well. He thought perhaps he had thrown up so much that he had pulled a muscle, or had a hernia, or something like that. He walked kind of doubled over. After staying at our house over the weekend (right before the semester started), he went back to his apartment Sunday morning. He watched a CES Fireside at his girlfriend, Aleisha's, house that night. By the time it was over, he could hardly move. He made it back home, and had a pretty bad night.

Monday morning he called Rick, just sobbing because he was so sick and in pain. I made an appointment with Dr. S-, hoping he would send him to get a scan. But, all he did was say that it wasn't a hernia, and took his urine and blood and sent it to the lab. I wasn't too happy about having to wait for the blood work (2-3 days). :(

Grant went back home to his first studio class that afternoon, and then to some other classes on Tuesday. Tuesday night, he called and he was shaking so badly, he could hardly talk - he had collapsed at the studio, and his friends were taking him home. He couldn't talk because he was throwing up over the car window. When he got home, he was freezing, shaking, sweating, etc. all at the same time. He called, and I had a feeling I should tell him to go to the ER, but I didn't. (Stupid, typical, me). He wrapped up in a blanket, and slept for 8 hours on the bathroom floor - with his roommates checking on him throughout the night.

The next morning, around noon, he called to ask me about the blood work. When I called the doctor's office, it still wasn't back, but I told them how sick he had been. A few hours later, the blood work came back - elevated white blood cells, and elevated liver function. They ordered a CT scan, and Rick picked him up and brought him to AF hospital for the scan. They did the scan at 5:00 pm, and called Dr. S- with the results - he called Grant, who was waiting in the waiting room at the hospital with Rick. Dr. S- said "Your appendix burst. We don't know when. It could have been a few days ago. There is an encapsulated pocket of infection - they'll have to operate right now. It's amazing you are even alive - I can't believe you busted through the pain like that - for days!"

So, the count now is APPENDIX = 2, MOM - 0! That's right, once again, the appendix won. (When Michael had an appendix attack a few years ago, I didn't take him to the ER for a few hours, and his almost burst!) My surgeon, Dr. T-, looked at the scan and said that she couldn't even see an appendix - that it had probably burst so hard, it disintegrated! So, they admitted him to the hospital and started IV antibiotics and other fluids. By the time I got to the hospital, he had a terrible headache. They tried lots of meds, even morphine, but nothing touched it. He was so upset - he said "I'm in a hospital, and they can't even stop my headache???!!!!!" Finally they found a pain med that got rid of it, and he slept.

The next morning they put a drain into the pocket of infection, and drained a ton out. He went into the hospital on Wednesday night and we brought him home on Sunday. It was a rough week - he's been in pain, sick to his stomach, etc. He's weak, and shaky, but alive! We figured that the appendix probably burst Sunday night, so he actually went 3 days with a burst appendix before we found it. He should have died. And, in fact, if the infection hadn't encapsulated, he would have died probably within the first 24 hours. Monday night, after studio, the professors told everyone that they had to move all of their stuff around to another area of the studio, so Grant even did that with a burst appendix! On his facebook post, he said: "Was so busy being manly last week, that when my appendix completely exploded all over my insides, I didn't even notice. I shouldn't be alive right now."

We've realized, as we've pieced together the events of the last week, that because of priesthood blessings (he got several - from Rick and his friends), but especially because his brother, Michael, is serving a mission, Grant was spared. We are SO grateful for Michael's service, and the blessings it brings to our family. Really, Grant could be gone right now, but because of his brother's faithful service, he is here. We thank Michael from the bottom of our hearts.

Grant is so happy to be home. (So am I - I stayed at the hospital, almost non-stop, for the whole week - it's was a little tough, since I was still recovering from my surgery.) The previous weekend, when I told Michael that everyone in the family was either recovering from surgery or sick, he wrote back saying: "I'll bet you're all super glad that I'm on a mission or you would all just be mostly dead. Yay for blessings!" That was the day that Grant's appendix burst. Michael had no idea for a week what had happened. YAY FOR BLESSINGSm indeed!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

RECOVERY - The Worst Part of Surgery

PAIN! Yep, the thing I've been dreading is here - recovering from surgery. Yeesh! Ok, I'm just gonna say it - liposuction SUCKS! That's right... it really sucks. I've got bruises everywhere. There are even bruises in places they didn't lipo.

If any of you are wondering - I had a tummy tuck last year to get rid of that scary stuff called abdominal fat. It's really BAD stuff - it can cause things like cancer recurrence - and I'm NOT going through that again, so I thought I'd better say goodbye to the abdominal fat. And, quite frankly, the fastest way to do that is a tummy tuck. So, I did it. But, my doc wouldn't do the lipo part until my scar was completely healed up, and ALL the swelling went down. So, that took like 5 months. And then I got a bacteria in my stomach that made me really sick for a few months, and then my gall bladder freaked out, and I had to postpone the lipo surgery to have my gall bladder taken out! So, here we are - 10 months after the tummy tuck - finishing up.

Yesterday, I went through the joy of losing most of the liquid they pumped into my body (4 liters) - through the incisions. Poor Rick was doing laundry as fast as he could. I was weak from loss of blood. We were both pretty miserable. But, sometime during the night, it stopped. Thank heaven. I went in for a post-op appt. today, and the doctor said it looks good. There's still a bunch of swelling, of course, but he said that within 2-3 months, I'll look much better. YAY!

And the important part... that stupid abdominal fat is GONE. During the first surgery, they cut out 9 lbs of skin and fat! And during this surgery, they removed almost 5 liters of fat. Wow.

Ok, I'm gonna end it here, because it really hurts to sit up in this chair. So... off I go to recover some more. :-)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Surgery #15 - That's right,.. 15.

I'm getting ready for another surgery today. I'm not sure how long it will take to recover from this one - hopefully not long. It's hard to know though. I've cleaned my bedroom and bathroom, done all the laundry, and still need to clean the fridge out, and go grocery shopping tonight.

It's nice to have everything clean, and now I know I'll be able to relax while I recover. We haven't asked for any help - the boys and Rick all know how to take care of themselves, and me, so we really don't need anything. I've got a ton of books and movies to keep myself occupied, and my cancer blog is scheduled out through the end of the week. I think I'm ready.

Tomorrow I have to be at the surgical center at 10:45 am. I have to wear something I can just slip into - that zips up the front, I can't eat anything (or drink anything) after midnight, and I have to wear these stupid hose up to my knees, and bring the binder for around my stomach. Ugh.

Wish me luck!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Missionary Moments - A Desire to be Baptized

Today we got an email from Michael. Michael is serving in the Mexico, Veracruz mission. He is proselyting in Posa Rica right now. It's going to be a busy month for him and his companion. They are working on 3-4 investigators who have all recently committed to baptism. The thing that frustrates Michael the most is that several of these people can't be baptized because they are waiting for someone else to do something first. For instance, one investigator isn't married to her partner. They've been living together for 20 years, but he is still married to his wife (in the temple!), and has been ex-communicated for years. All he needs to do is sign on the line of the divorce papers, and he refuses to do it. So, that is what's holding this woman back from her baptism. How do you even deal with something like that?

I feel Michael's frustration. Of course, he asked us to pray for her, and for all of his investigators. I know that Satan works extra hard against investigators and missionaries. I also know that prayers are powerful, and that Christ is stronger than Satan. I know that eventually these investigators will join the church and it will change their lives. Faith will be a big part of this process.

In 2 Nephi 26:13 we are reminded: "And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith."

Hopefully Elder Herron will be able to teach these investigators to search the Book of Mormon to find the answers to the problems they are having. For now, they are in our prayers, and in the hands of some of the Lord's choicest servants.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Resolution - Discipleship

It's New Year's Day 2012 - I think I'm like most other people... wanting to make a new start, improve myself, etc. Usually I make a list of resolutions at the beginning of the year... and then that lasts for a few weeks or, if I'm really diligent, a few months. In fact, I believe the only resolution I've ever kept completely is the one I made 2 years ago - to stop drinking soda. Alex and Matthew made the same goal. For me it was because I knew I shouldn't be throwing back that much sugar (I hate diet drinks), Alex was in training for football and soda is a no-no, and Matthew probably just wanted in on the action. We challenged each other. It was like a competition, and none of us would back down. We made it to the end of the year, and we kept going. What a great feeling to have accomplished that.

This year, as I thought about all of the changes I need to make, it became overwhelming! That's right... NEWS FLASH... I'm not perfect. Usually my list is pretty long. One year, I even made a goal in each area of my life - physical, mental, social, emotional, spiritual - you get the idea. This year, I've decided that I want to succeed, so I'm making only one goal - I figure anyone (even me) can do one thing really well for a year! As I looked at all of those areas of my life, I decided that the spiritual part of me needs work. BIG time. So, I'm going with Getting Closer To Christ. One person I know picks one word that will describe her year. This year her word is Discipleship. I like that. So, my year will be all about Discipleship. I'm planning to use some of the following to help with my goal...

1. A daily thought from the Book of Mormon. There is a small book, available at Deseret Book and Seagull Book, called "When Ye Shall Receive These Things - Daily Reflections On The Book of Mormon" by Lloyd D. Newell and Robert L. Millet. It has a thought for each day of the year. Once I've read the thought, I'll try to post about it on facebook. Which leads to my second item...

2. Using the internet as a tool of Discipleship. I really enjoy it when my friends share quotes from the prophets on facebook. I'm on the internet all the time... I've got blogs (which I don't update often enough), twitter, facebook, email, etc. Plenty of opportunities there! M. Russell Ballard, in a commencement address at BYU-Hawaii in 2007, said this...

"This is the world of the future, with inventions undreamed of that will come in your lifetime as they have in mine. How will you use these marvelous inventions? More to the point, how will you use them to further the work of the Lord?"

I'm going to try to join the conversation about the church on the internet, and use this amazing missionary tool!

3. I got a book several months ago, called "21 Days Closer To Christ", by Emily Freeman, promising myself that I would use it. I did - for one week. It's such an incredible book! I'd like to use it this year, only instead of using each "day", or chapter, daily, I'll be using it weekly. I just want a little bit longer to focus on each chapter.

4. A few months ago, I read a quote from D. Todd Christopherson that said:

"Obtain a new, inexpensive copy of the Book of Mormon, and mark all of the verses that refer to, or teach about, the Savior, His ministry, and His mission. This brings both a deeper witness of Jesus as the Son of God and a fresh appreciation of what He has done and continues to do for us."

I've already got a copy of the Book of Mormon with a blue cover - an inexpensive one - and I've written that quote on the inside cover. I'm excited to try this different way of recognizing Christ in the scriptures.

5. I've never been good at journaling, but at some point last year, I started to keep track of the insights I gain while studying the scriptures. I'll try to continue doing this. Because I was looking specifically for new insights, I found quite a few.

I'm sure there are many more tools that I can, and will, use to become a better disciple of Christ this year. Hopefully, by the end of the year, if I've put in the effort (and I don't forget all about this resolution in 2 months), I'll be more in tune with the Spirit, and much closer to my best friend - Jesus Christ.

Good luck with your new year resolutions!

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My Gorgeous Boys

My Gorgeous Boys