Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Last Saturday afternoon my sister Chandra and I went to the movies and we saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I've been looking forward to seeing this movie ever since I heard about it earlier this year and I had high hopes, especially since I really enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movies so well. The Hobbit is made by Peter Jackson (the same guy behind the Lord of the Rings movies) so I'm glad about that because I just don't think anyone else could make them as good as he.

I had to read The Hobbit in my eighth grade English class with my teacher, Mr. Fisher, who loved The Hobbit. I remember not being crazy about the book when we read it in his class back then, but since I planned on seeing The Hobbit I decided to give it another try. I listened to the audio book last month and enjoyed it much more this time around than I did when I was 13. Tolkien isn't my favorite, but I listened to the three Lord of the Rings books back in 2005 after I saw the movies and I thought that they were okay. Tolkien isn't really my cup of tea, but I wanted to read the books just once to say that I'd read them (and now I can add The Hobbit to the list, too).

When I first found out that the The Hobbit was being into a movie I was really surprised to find out that they weren't just making the book into one movie, or even two… it's being made into THREE movies! The first movie is three hours, too, so it's not like they are short, either. Three movies (especially long ones) seems a little much, in my opinion, especially since The Hobbit really isn't all that long of a book.

Anyway, I really liked the movie and it definitely gets my recommendation, especially if you liked the Lord of the Rings movies.I can't wait to see the next two Hobbit movies to see how they all go together. Heather's rating: 9/10 stars

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tragedy at Sandy Hook

I’ve been really busy lately working on my family slideshow that highlights our year (hence the reason I haven’t posted as much recently), but I just have to take a break to express my feelings about the horrible massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday where 20 children and six adults were killed. My mom and I were gone on Friday morning so we didn’t hear the news until later in the afternoon. It was shocking to hear the devastating news and it just left me with a sick feeling in my stomach. These mass shootings are sadly becoming more and more frequent and it makes you wonder when they will stop. 

My mom and I were talking about the shooting, trying to make sense of it, and we said that we just hope that the victims died without experiencing too much physical pain. It’s reported that some of the victims were shot up to 11 times. Being shot ONCE is bad enough, but multiple gun shots just go to add to the brutality of it all. I cannot even imagine the terror that the victims must’ve experienced. Those poor children. 

Why would a young man do something so violent? It really makes me wonder what sort of emotional turmoil was going on inside his head. These days it seems like mass shootings like this (or the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado) are almost becoming somewhat of a fad with deranged people (especially teens and young adults who have mental illnesses and other emotional defects). They usually take the coward’s way out and commit suicide after their killing spree is over and it’s as if they take enjoyment in inflicting as much pain/damage on the world as they can as they go out in their own personal “blaze of glory.” 

I can’t help but think of this tragedy in the context of my nieces and nephew who are all in first grade. When I think of them and what they would’ve experienced it just breaks my heart all the more. No one should die in such a violent way, ESPECIALLY innocent, precious children. (Here are my two first grade nieces and my nephew: Ethan, Sarah and Samantha.)
A picture says a thousand words, so I thought I would end this post with some pictures that illustrate the magnitude of the devastation.
I'm glad that the community is rallying around the families of the victims and those that were affected by this tragedy. It's unfortunate that it takes something like this to bring people together, but if this helps people to moreove a little more and to be a little more kind, then I guess that's something positive that can come from this terrible situation. I just feel badly that it happened so close to Christmas because I fear it will taint Christmas for years to come and overshadow Christmas' true meaning.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Left to Tell"

This past weekend my mom and I finished reading a wonderful book together that is most definitely blog worthy. (I like to blog about the books I read, especially when I find one that is as inspiring/uplifting as this one since I always appreciate recommendations of good books. Left to Tell Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust is the true story of Immaculée Ilibagiza, who lived through the holocaust in Rwanda in 1994. Here's a little bit more about her story:

Immaculée shares her miraculous story of how she survived during the Rwanda genocide in 1994 when she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s house for 91 days! In this captivating and inspiring book, Immaculée shows us how to embrace the power of prayer, forge a profound and lasting relationship with God, and discover the importance of forgiveness and the meaning of truly unconditional love and understanding-through our darkest hours. 

The thing I liked best about this book was Immaculée's trust and faith in God through her ordeal. I find it so refreshing when people acknowledge God and give Him the credit He is due. Immaculée went through something so horrific that it would be unimaginable to most people. However, not only did she survive the genocide of her people, but she actually made it through without losing her amazing spirit, her faith and her love of God. 

Left to Tell reminds me of one of my other favorite books, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. Corrie survived a Nazi concentration camp and had a very similar outlook on life as Immaculée. Both books are extremely inspiring and would especially be great books for book clubs.

When horrible things happen, people often ask, "Why?" Adversity is difficult to understand, especially while you're in the thick of it. I love this quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf because he clearly answers why suffering is necessary: "In stories, as in life, adversity teaches us things we cannot learn otherwise. Adversity helps us to develop a depth of character that comes in no other way. Our loving Heavenly Father has set us in a world filled with challenges and trials so that we, through opposition, can learn wisdom, become stronger and experience joy."

I know from personal experience that this is true because I've seen it in my own life. I'm SO much better of a person that I was before my accident and there's no way that I could be the person that I am if it weren't for the adversity that I have and continue to experience. Going through hard things is never easy, but it will smooth out your rough places if you let it. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

FAQs: My Accident Site

One of my readers recently asked me a few questions that I thought I'd take the time to answer.

When I made my note to self post last month, one of my classmates that I went to nursing school with made a comment that she thinks of me any time she passes my accident site. One of my readers read that comment and asked me if I go by my accident site often, or if I purposely avoid it because of the memories. She also asked if it brings back memories if/when I pass it.

I don't pass the accident site all that regularly; probably only a handful of times each year. I don't go out of my way to avoid it, it's just not on my normal route to/from the places I usually go. It definitely doesn't bother me to pass it – I actually enjoy it because it brings back good memories of the time in my life when I was independent and going to nursing school – and when I do pass it I definitely think of my accident every single time. I always picture the accident happening, especially when I'm driving the direction that the girl who hit me was driving. I imagine the same scenario; running a red light at 50 mph and I try to think exactly what the collision would've been like. (I don't remember the accident at all, so that's why I'm very curious to know exactly what it was like, and everything I went through.)

[For those of you who live in my area, my accident happened at the intersection of 141 and 21 near Fenton, MO.] I was in the left turn lane preparing to turn left onto 141. I was stopped at a red light and was the first car in line and when the light turned green I started to go. That's when a driver going the direction perpendicular to me ran a red light and t-boned my car on the driver's side. Whenever my mom is driving and we get off at that exit she ALWAYS gets into the right turning lane (I was in the left lane), no matter what. It's not that she thinks lightning is going to strike twice, or anything, it's just something she started doing after my accident.

As always, I'm open to questions about anything that anyone might be curious about.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Happy December!

Can it really be December 3?! I know it must be since that's what my Mary Engelbreit calendar says, but it doesn't seem like it. Time just goes so, so quickly! It doesn't FEEL like December, either! Today we reached a record high temperature of 78°F in St. Louis. It felt more like May than December! Call me crazy, but I could stand for more season-appropriate weather. Although I don't like the physical feeling of being cold that winter-like temperatures results in, it's hard to feel festive when it's so warm outside! 
(December's picture from my Mary Engelbreit calendar: I love the bright, colorful picture,
although the quote is pretty dumb.)
I'm grateful to be in the month of December, though, since it's my favorite month of the year. There's nothing better than December holidays, the infectious spirit of Christmas, doing kind things for others, Christmas movies and music, yummy festive foods and holiday treats, snow and most importantly, focusing on our Savior's birth and remembering all that He did for us. I love this special time of year!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Good Samaritan

Most of the stories you hear on the news these days are pretty depressing, so it was nice to hear this heartwarming story yesterday. A few weeks ago 25-year-old police officer Larry DePrimo was on patrol in Times Square when he came across a homeless man who was barefoot. It was a frigid night and DePrimo asked the man if he wanted he wanted a pair of socks. The man said, "No, but God bless you for asking." DePrimo then went to a nearby Sketcher's store and bought the man a pair of socks and some all-terrain boots. (These weren't cheap boots, either. They cost $100, but when the store owner heard about the situation he gave DePrimo the employee discount, taking the price of the boots down to $75.) DePrimo then went back to the homeless man (who said he'd never owned a pair of shoes before), knelt down and helped the man put the boots on his cold, blistered feet. 

A tourist standing nearby snapped this picture of the act on her cell phone and posted it on the NYPD's Facebook page. The picture went viral and has received hundreds of thousands of likes, shares and comments. 
Check out Larry DePrimo. Kind AND good-looking!
This positive story uplifted me and it's a good reminder to give back and do what Jesus would do. "… Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." - Matthew 25:40

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Brother Bret

The night before Thanksgiving I got an e-mail from one of my dearest friends, Bret, saying that he and his wife were going to be spending Thanksgiving in Branson, Missouri, and he asked if he could come visit the day after Thanksgiving. I replied immediately with an enthusiastic, "Yes!" Bret moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming several years ago after he got married and although Branson is none too close to the town where I live, it's a lot closer than Cheyenne! So on Friday Bret made the drive to visit my mom, Chandra and me while his wife went shopping with her mom and sisters. Branson is a good four hours away, so I'd say that Bret's eight hour round trip said "love" (especially since he could only visit for two hours).

It was wonderful to catch up with Bret. He's one of the best people I know. He's so kind, respectful and sweet and the sort of person that would doyou just about anything for anyone. I grew up with six sisters and have always wondered what it would be like to have a brother. After I met Bret I decided that IF I'd been blessed with a brother, I would've wanted him to be like Bret. (Hence his nickname – "Brother Bret.")

I always like to take pictures to document life and I knew it would be tough to get a serious shot with Bret in the picture! These first two pictures are classic Bret, but we were able to get some good pics, too. Love this guy!

Paul Jo

In my last two posts I've written about my Uncle Paul, or Paul Jo as we refer to him to distinguish him from my mom's friend with the same first and last name. It sure was great having Paul visit. He's one of the funniest people I know, and he says and does the craziest things that always have me laughing. I'm always impressed with how smart he is, too. He seems to know a little bit about everything! Sometimes it's hard to keep up when having a conversation with Paul since he shifts topics so quickly, but I do my best to keep up! Paul speaks in letters and/or numbers as much as he does in words since he's always using acronyms or abbreviating words. I guess you'd have to meet him to actually know just what I mean, but he's really a hoot!
One of the things we did while Paul was here was set up/decorate my Christmas tree. Last year I bought an artificial Christmas tree a few days before Christmas since it was on clearance for 50% off. When I was a kid we always went to a tree lot and cut down a real tree the day after Thanksgiving, but now that my dad is gone and it's just my mom, Chandra and me at home we stopped doing the real Christmas tree thing years ago. My mom has a 4 foot fiber-optic tree that she puts up, but that's just a little disappointing, in my opinion! Especially since my sister Sharon's family usually visits for Christmas and she has six kids. Little kids need a big tree to add to the magic of Christmas (or at least I  do… it's just more exciting that way!) 
Anyway, he did that the day after Thanksgiving, and then he and Chandra decorated the tree while I watched and directed the next afternoon after we got home from seeing Lincoln at the movie theater. I don't think the tree turned out too shabby! It looks the best with the lights off, but it's hard to capture that on camera.
The ornaments on my tree are probably 50% store-bought and 50% homemade which I think is a nice blend. My older sister Kristin made most of my homemade ornaments for me and she did a great job. (And the tree skirt she made for me a few months ago works perfectly!) 
I found a tutorial for these cute Christmas ornaments on Pinterest earlier this year that I thought looked adorable, so I bought the supplies and my mom made them for me, with the help of my sisters Chandra and Annette. If you want to find out how to make them click here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Last Saturday I went to the movies with my Uncle Paul (and Mom and Chandra) to see Lincoln. A few weeks ago when I heard that Paul was thinking of visiting for Thanksgiving I told him that seeing Lincoln together would be a must if he came since I thought it looked like a movie that would be up both our alleys.

I've always been a fan of Abraham Lincoln and my admiration of him and appreciation for all that he did for the United States grows the more I learn about him. This past spring I read the book Killing Lincoln and really enjoyed learning more about the assassination plot since it's a major part of US history. (A sad, unfortunate bit of history, but history nonetheless.) Then this past August I went to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois, with my mom, sister Chandra and two of our friends. The museum is amazing and taught me even more about Lincoln than I previously knew. So after reading the book and visiting the museum I was really excited to see the movie.

I have to admit that my excitement didn't keep me from falling asleep during the movie several times! (As the Bible says, "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.) ;) The movie was fantastic and I loved Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. They both did a great job and I won't be surprised if either or both of them receive an Oscar nod for their portrayals.

I saw this on Facebook and I thought it was rather humorous in a dark way:

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