Monday, February 25, 2013

Anniversary Airplane Quote Craft

Today, I celebrated four amazing, wonderful years with the most handsome, marvelous fiancé anyone could ask for. That's right: February 25th marks my first date with Dan. Four. Entire. Years. Ago.

It's insane, really.

And time is flying. We get married in just 15 months! It's surreal, but I am oh-so excited!

For our anniversary, I wanted to do something for Dan that he would be able to enjoy for a long time. Since I had a few vintage airplane pictures framed for him for his birthday last year and a couple of his favorite pilots drawn for him and framed for Christmas, I decided to go with quotes about flying. Let me just tell you -- there aren't too many good ones. I searched and searched until I was completely satisfied with the quality and quantity that I decided on.

Instead of typing these out in Photoshop, which was my original plan, and framing them, I decided to try something new. I bought seven 12x12 canvases at Hobby Lobby and loaded up on acrylic paints. My result? Decent. I'm happy with them, and he seemed to like them, but I know this is a craft I will get better and better at over time. I had never painted on canvas before, so this was an experiment of sorts.

Oh, you want to see them? Of course I took pictures. Obviously. Check these out, but be nice. They're my first ones!

It took me a long time to make all of these painted canvases, but I'm glad I stuck with the project. I have made a few to hang up in my house too, and I will share those soon! 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review: Prep

Last fall, my students were growing frustrated that I could read entire novels in one week of 15-minute-a-day reading sessions at school, so they challenged me to the thickest book they could find on my shelf. The book was Prep by Curtis Sittenfield, and it was definitely a challenge... but not because of its length.

Sure, the cover is pretty enough. But always remember: don't judge a book by its cover. 

Prep is a novel about a teenage girl, Lee Fiora, who decides she wants to go to a boarding school called Ault. While at first I thought Lee would be much like Holden Caulfield, the narrator from The Catcher in the Rye, a book that is near to my heart, I soon became mistaken. Rather than the humorous charm I always get from Holden, Lee's character is just plain whiney. 

Though I didn't necessarily want to, I forced myself through all 450 pages. Lee goes off to a boarding school. She doesn't like it. She doesn't fit in. She makes awkward friends. She loses said friends. She meets a guy and falls for him. She enjoys school a bit more. She graduates and moves away. The end. But seriously... I don't like being critical of novels because I know how much work goes into writing them. And I did find plenty of glowing reviews for this book on Goodreads. It just wasn't my cup of tea. Some of you may enjoy it, though! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Review: My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife

Toward the end of 2012, I started gaining interest in religious based books. I decided to give this one a try because I had read the author's previous book, God Strong, which you can read about HERE. Sara Horn portrays a candid picture of life that I can identify with, as she is a military spouse (and I will be soon!). In her book My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife, she describes her journey to being a better wife to her husband and mother to her son. 

Before reading about the book, however, go ahead and check out the scripture for Proverbs 31:10-24. It describes how the best wife behaves and what she does. It's a lot of information, and it seems like so much. Can ANYONE live up to those standards? 
Proverbs 31:10-24
10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?She is more precious than rubies.11 Her husband can trust her,and she will greatly enrich his life.12 She brings him good, not harm,all the days of her life. 13 She finds wool and flaxand busily spins it.14 She is like a merchant’s ship,bringing her food from afar.15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her householdand plan the day’s work for her servant girls.16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;with her earnings she plants a vineyard.17 She is energetic and strong,a hard worker.18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;her lamp burns late into the night.19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,her fingers twisting fiber.20 She extends a helping hand to the poorand opens her arms to the needy.21 She has no fear of winter for her household,for everyone has warm clothes.22 She makes her own bedspreads.She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,where he sits with the other civic leaders.24 She makes belted linen garmentsand sashes to sell to the merchants.

That's a lot to take in, huh? Sara Horn, the author of My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife, sets out on a one year journey to encompass everything that the verse says. She is unsure of how her year will turn out, but it's fun reading through her struggles and victories throughout the process. 

She tries to be everything the woman in the scripture is, and when things don't go as well as she'd planned, Horn has a way of laughing it off without being TOO frustrated. She discovers what it is like to be a more Godly woman and wife rather than managing the impossible task of being a PERFECT woman and wife. 

As for me, I think I'll focus on a more specific piece of this verse right now and worry about the rest later. I am trying to see the overall picture right now and focus on being the best fiancée I can be to Dan. Being an encouragement to him as he goes through the Air Force Academy is one of my biggest priorities, and as long as I'm doing a good job at that, I feel accomplished for now.

One specific verse I will continue focusing on in the meantime is this:

I think I can handle that right now. Maybe one day I will work on tackling the rest of the long list. I'm sure Dan will be happy either way. ;)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Book Review: Promised (Birthmarked #3)

In true fashion of keeping up with blogging about books in a series, this is the final review of Caragh M. O'Brien's Birthmarked series. The book is called Promised. You can find the review for book one (Birthmarked) HERE and for book two (Prized) HERE.

As expected, this book was adventurous. I enjoyed it just as much as the first two and could not put it down. Gaia is a narrator that I cannot relate to very much, yet she still captivates me and keeps me reading. It takes a strong character to do that, and I will say that I felt like I WAS Gaia by the end, despite our drastic differences in lifestyles. Promised delivers. 

This book tells of Gaia, the new leader of a community called Sylum, and her adventures getting her people to the Enclave safely. She thinks the long journey to the Enclave will be the tough part, but when they all arrive, that's when things really get rough. Will Gaia be able to protect the people who trust her and look up to her? Will the people of her past allow her to come back in, along with so many new people? 

I don't want to spoil anything from the first two books, but this one is spectacular. I highly recommend this series to all of my reader friends. You will not be disappointed. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Olly's Visit to Colorado Springs

Last weekend, Dan and I were lucky enough to have a friend from UCM visit us. Olly flew to Colorado Springs, and we showed him around and had a lot of fun. Olly is technically our Brother through Phi Sigma Pi. He is Dan's "Little", and the two also have a common bond of aviation. (Enter: a weekend of nerdy airplane information...)

Olly was only here for about 48 hours of productive time, so we crammed as much in as possible. He went to Flying Team practice with Dan on Saturday morning and then had a tour of the Academy. Afterward, we all went to lunch and then drove through Garden of the Gods (a can't-miss destination out here!). We then headed to Cripple Creek, where an ice festival was going on (fun!!!). We stayed the night there and gambled a bit before heading back on Sunday. We had a pretty lazy day on Sunday, exploring the shops and arcades in Manitou Springs. This place just doesn't get old.

Me with Olly at Garden of the Gods

Dan with Olly at Garden of the Gods

Me with Dan at Garden of the Gods

Me holding up one of the balanced rocks at Garden of the Gods

The Kissing Camels at Garden of the Gods

Overall, we had a great weekend being tourists in our own town. I love Colorado Springs more than the average person, so it's always nice to have an excuse to explore all the old favorites! :)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Book Review: Son

Well, I am finally getting around to reviewing the fourth and final book of Lois Lowry's Giver quartet. I bought this book last fall on the day it came out. I was so excited! Fortunately, it did not let me down, and I am happy to provide a very positive review.

Son, by Lois Lowry, is the final culmination of the Giver series. You may read my other reviews by clicking on these links: Book One: The GiverBook Two: Gathering Blue, and Book Three: Messenger.

I always find it tough to review books that are later on in a series because I don't want to give any important information away to people who may be interested in reading the books but haven't yet. Bear with me. 

Son tells the story of Claire, who is from the same town as Jonas from the first book. She had a son years ago, yet she has never met him. Those who have read The Giver can assume who Claire's son is. This novel tells the gripping story of how Claire chases after her son, how she learns who he is, and her experiences along the way. 

Good and evil make a strong presence throughout each of Lowry's books in this series, and Son is no exception. What is right, and what is wrong? Who should be able to decide that? Is the world "right" just because it's how everyone lives? Can a government have TOO much presence in a society? If you enjoyed the other three books, you should definitely check this one out. Again, Lowry earns five stars out of five in my book. This book was TOUGH to put down. I felt like swallowing it whole, taking in every single scene before I would allow myself to put the book down. Fellow readers, you will enjoy this one! 

Oh, and can I just express my excitement for a moment? I am going to start teaching The Giver, the first book on this quartet, on Monday. My eight graders have been begging to read a "real book" since August, and I think they're finally ready. (Remember: they were ALL reading several grade levels below where they should have been, so this is a big step!) 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Book Review: Messenger

In 2012, I read a lot of books. In fact, I read so many that I never got caught up reviewing them, so I have a big list of books to review from then, as well as a handful that I've already read in 2013. My goal is to become up-to-date soon so I don't have to worry about catching up again. We'll see how that goes.

This review is for a third book. Messenger by Lois Lowry is the third book in a quartet, and I reviewed the first two already and will review the fourth one soon. Check out the review for book one, The GiverHERE, and book two, Gathering BlueHERE.

Lowry presents Matty, a character we first met in Gathering Blue as Kira's friend, as the protagonist of Messenger. He has moved on from that area and now lived in the Village under the guidance of Seer, a blind man. Matty helps take care of Seer, just as Seer helps take care of Matty. 

Everyone in the Village has left another place, and they all have something "wrong" with them, whether it is physically apparent or not. Matty learns about someone called the Trader, who is a mystery to most young people in the Village, though curiosity gets the best of him. He soon learns too much and realizes he may have a power he has been unaware of. Jonas, the character from The Giver, is the leader of this community, and he recognizes Matty as an important part of it. 

Matty has to become braver than his age and go on a great adventure. I can't say more without ruining the book for potential readers. All I can say is that Lowry yet again does NOT disappoint. She saw the teenage dystopia trend long before it actually became a trend, and her novels always make me think, even as an adult. This book deserves five stars out of five, in my opinion. If you haven't read any of this quartet, please do so soon. The books are short, but they are powerful.