Sunday, December 19, 2010

Yearly Book Recommendations

  • Time for my annual "What did I read and what do I recommend" post. Its been a busy year with moving and Sam coming into our life, but we still found time to settle down with a book. Here is what I read. I wont finish a book I don't like, and finished everything on this list. The book links with three stars by them are the ones I especially liked, if you are looking for a great read. Here we go…

  • US Politics/US/World History:
  • ***Decision Points
I just finished George Bushes Presidential memoir. During his presidency he wasn't always the most expressive person, and this helped me understand how he thinks and what his reasoning was for his major decisions in his presidency. I came away with a lot more empathy for this man. He says the biggest success of his Presidency was funding Africa with 15 billion for HIV/AIDS treatment, and the biggest failure was his administrations response to Katrina.
  • The Politician
  • This book was a fun read. Cheyn read most of it to me. It is the memoir of John Edwards assistant, the one who claimed John Edwards love child was his own. John Edwards has to be the biggest political train wreck of the past 30 years and this was an insiders view of his downfall. It was fun living in the triangle and knowing where parts of the book took place. We even took a pilgrimage to John Edwards house earlier this year.
  • Game Change
  • This book was a inside view of the 2008 political campaigns. The reporters conducted tons of interviews after the fact to portray what was really going on during the presidential race. There were a lot of new insights and revelations. Sometimes the politicians potty mouths got to be a little much.
  • ***Empire of Liberty
  • This is the most recently published book in the Oxford History of America Series. This covered 1789-1815. I loved it. If you like an in depth look 800 page book on a part of American History, this is for you. I wanted to learn more about how the government worked and what the points of contention were like for the founders after Independence and the Constitution. I also got to learn more about Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and George Washington. A great book, almost as good as the next book in the series What Hath God Wrought, that I read last year.
  • The Devil in the White City
  • A history of the Worlds Fair in the late 1800's in Chicago revolving around the lives of the chief architect and a serial killer. Our friend Jessica Bean recommended this to me. I'm not really into true crime stuff, but this book was pretty engrossing as it alternated between the fair and the super evil serial killer.
  • ***The Dead Hand
  • This book won the Pulitzer last year. It is about the nuclear arms race and downfall of the USSR. I never knew there were so many nuclear weapons and how many brushes with near use of them there were during the cold war. the book also details the USSR's secret chemical weapons programs in the 1980's. There is a lot of scary stuff going on out there we don't know about at the time.
  • Restless Giant
  • Another book in the Oxford series. This covered 1974-2001. I was disappointed as it just read like a tic-toc of events and there wasn't a lot of historical insight. Maybe it was written too close to the time frame for the author to gain adequate perspective.
  • ***Flags of Our Fathers
  • This book follows the son of one of the flag raisers at Iowa Jima as he retraces the events of the battle and the men involved. It shows a broader perspective on peoples lives than just the battle and the cost of war on those who survived and those who did not.
  • ***The Death of Sigmund Freud:The Legacy of His Last Days
Frued is a person of interest for me, due to his influence in counseling and therapy. This follows him through his last days escaping Nazi's in Vienna and battling cancer while being the leader of the psychoanalytic movement. It's not to dense and goes through his family life and philosophy in less than 300 pages.

  • Religious/Religious History:
  • The Loser Letters
  • My Brother in Law Justin recommended this book to me. Its written in the style of the Screwtape Letters. The book is about a convert to atheism writing to prominent current atheist and reveals her reconversion to faith. It's short and has some fun banter.
  • Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament
  • Cheyn and I had a goal of reading the Old Testament this year and got this book to help us. This book was written by LDS academics to help the reader better understand the historical and cultural context of the Old Testament narratives. I learned a lot that I wouldn't have if I was just reading the Old Testament. The division of chapters in the book didn't always sync chronologically, so it wasn't a perfect companion.
  • ***Great Basin Kingdom
  • This is a great book of economic and LDS history that I had heard a lot about in other books, but finally got up the guts to read this year. The main focus is on the the economic experimentation of the Saints in Utah from 1847 to the late 1890's. Many of the economic programs are an exercise in futility in the turbulent backdrop of the early pioneers. The minute that the United Order or other cooperatives are about to work, on cue something always seems to go wrong.

  • There is a great part that explains how the practice of fast offerings started in 1857. The crickets came back and the crops suffered, so that winter Brigham Young said the members should start a weekly fast offering: giving a part of their weekly food and going without that day. Brigham also directed anyone able should hire new arrivals to work and pay them in food, just to keep people eating and alive, and have them work to keep their dignity. Many of the same practices continue in some form at this time in the Church on a global scale.

  • ***The Carthage Conspiracy
  • This was written by Elder Oaks (then a law professor) and a historian about the trail of the Mob that killed Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith and injured others. It shows how the politicking leading up to the case between different Mormon and Anti-Mormon elements set the precedence for the trial. Contrary to some urban legends the men who got off had for the most part long and interesting lives. I especially enjoyed this book after reading it when we got to go to Carthage this fall.

  • Army Related Reading:
  • On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society
  • The title pretty much sums it up. Reading it to better understand what the soldiers go through and hopefully be able to help.
  • ***War
  • This is a great book. A journalist embeds with a unit in a remote Afghanistan location and goes through what life is like for the soldiers. I like this book because it is vivid and lets you into a place and situation I will never be. A soldier may not want to or be able to express the day to day experience of their deployment the way the author was able to.

  • Army Officers Guide
  • My Boss Recommended this to me as a book to read to prepare for Army culture. I still don't get a lot, but this was a good primer for military culture.

  • Fiction:
  • ***The Power and The Glory
  • I usually only read one or two fiction books a year and this was this years choice. I had head Graham Green was a great author, but never gotten around to him. This book is excellent. It's about a backsliding Catholic Priest trying to survive in Mexico during a time of high religious persecution by a secularist regime in the early 20th century. Its less than 300 pages and I recommend it to anyone looking for great lit.

  • So now its your turn. What did you read this year that what you do you recommend?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Turkey Trot

Ryan and I did a Turkey Trot 5k with our little Turkey at Fort Carson. They started the program by playing of the National Anthem. It was so impressive to see soldiers and their families pay honor to our country and flag. They are the ones who have truly sacrificed for our freedom and safety. It was pretty cold (in the 30's) so it pretty much kept our bodies numb while we ran. It was a wonderful way to start the day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Visit from Kazie and Craig

Aunt Kazie and Uncle Craigy made a spontaneous trip to see us this last weekend. They drove 8 1/2 hours one way for little Sam. He has us all wrapped around his finger. We had a wonderful time exploring Manitou Springs and Garden of the Gods. Manitou Springs has an area with tons of old school arcade games and rides.

Sam is not sure liked the elephant ride.

McKay and Craig read Sam a book before bed.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Two of our favorite things about living in Colorado

We are so blessed to move to a place where we already have best friends. Our friendship goes so far back. Renee basically set up Ryan and me and Kristen threw me a lingerie shower when we got engaged. The three of us used to rock climb in Malibu. Now we have all of Colorado at our finger tips. We love Renee and Kristen.

Happy Halloween

I represent the Lollipop Guild and wish to welcome you to munchkin land. Ignore the Wicked Witch of the West.

Moving into the new place

Videos of Sam unpacking and playing

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Part 5: Independence, Mo

On our way west before the wasteland (known as Kansas) and the promised land (Colorado), we made a stop in Independence, MO to see more sites. The LDS Church was located in this area in the 1830's. Harry Truman also was from here.

We stopped at Liberty Jail where church leaders were held and sections of the D & C were revealed:
The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library:

The beautiful Temple of the Community of Christ Church:
And the camper of a man that has a lot to say and whose hypereligiosity is probably a sign of something for which treatment may be advised. He is in front of the Temple Lot:
We did a lot of driving on this trip and Sam was a trooper. Cheyn would sit in the back and try to entertain him while I drove. Cheyney took this picture of our little thinker as we drove out of town:

More Nauvoo

One wonderful thing that worked out in Nauvoo was that we were able to meet up with Misty Lindgren, my (Ryan) cousin's wife and her children. They moved to Nauvoo about three years ago. She gave us an insiders tour of many places and even babysat Sam while we went to the Temple. It was great to get to know her better.

Notable places we went to in or around Nauvoo were:

Joseph Smith's residence:
The jail where Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered:
The graves of Joseph his Brother, and his Wife Emma:
The restored building where the Relief Society was organized and Temple ordinance were revealed:
The Nauvoo Temple:
The bakery (I included this because I like how Sam looks like a thug):

Before we drove out of town, we stopped off at the banks of the Mississippi, the area of the frozen river the pioneers crossed in 1846 as the fled for the West. Nauvoo was a historically fascinating and spiritually moving place. We loved our two days there.

Part 4:Nauvoo

As member of the Church Nauvoo has special significance to us. From 1839-1846, the Mormons built up an area near the Mississippi River from little more than swamp land to a city of 12,000 with 2000 wood buildings and 350 brick buildings. Elements of the Church's Doctrine and organization were developed in Nauvoo. After the murder of Joseph Smith in 1844, residents faced increased persecution and were compelled to depart for the West under the direction of Brigham Young.

In recent years many buildings have been restored or rebuilt. The town has Church workers at each building explaining what the building's history and function were. It's a functioning historic village now, much like Williamsburg, VA or Salem, NC.

Cheyney has ancestors who resided in Nauvoo. We were able to visit sites that where important to the Webb family.
We went to the building where members were instructed on preaching and Sam gave it a shot:

We visited where the Webb's worked as blacksmiths for residents of the city and built the covered wagons for the upcoming journey West:

We also went to the Cemetery where two of Cheyney's ancestors were buried:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Part 3: St. Louis, MO

We were so lucky to get to stay with my cousin Jared, Kirsten and family. They are now living in St. Louis and we haven't seen them for about 4 years! Their kids have grown so much. It was so wonderful to have quality time with them. We got to see them all play soccer games, eat St. Louis pizza and carve pumpkins.

At the St. Louis Arch
From Collages
Ethan, Adara and Zachy playing soccer

From Collages

Sam during the pumpkin carving.

We made awesome jack-o-lanterns.

Jared and I did the werewolf for Zach. I was pretty impressed!

Daddy and son bonding while watching BYU/TCU football game. Even though BYU is having a tough season, it looks like we have a new BYU fan.
From Collages

I love my cousins!

Part 2: Springfield Illinois

Next we headed to Springfield to visit Ryan's former supervisor, Christine, Bob and Will. The last time we saw her, she was 8 months pregnant with Will. Now we both have little guys that hit it off perfectly, as you can tell.

Then we went to the Lincoln Museum. It was full of artifacts, wax figures, and interactive movies. It even had the gloves he wore when he was assassinated (with blood spots). We also went to his grave site. What a wonderful president.

*please note Sam's onesie courtesy of Aunt Wendy

Road trip: Dayton, OH

Our first stop on our trip to Colorado was to visit Logan, Patrick and Ayden. They have just moved there for Patrick's dentistry residency. It was wonderful to spend time with them and to go to the US Air Force museum

Ayden is 14 months older.
Sam was definitely flirting with her.
Here is Sam with Sam 26000, Air Force One. The plane served for Presidents from Kennedy to Bush (41). It was on this plane that President Lyndon Johnson took the oath of office following the assassination of President Kennedy.

Posing under a stealth bomber

This is the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. It flew from Salt Lake.

Thanks Reillys!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010