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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2016 Books: The Bad, The Good, and The Awesome!

Well, it's a good thing that I am a teacher because I am a reading nerd. I have always loved to read, but this year, I just couldn't put books down! I was overwhelmed with audiobooks, chapter books, young adult novels, and everything in between!

My husband makes fun of me for reading so much, but in all honesty, I don't actually spend that much time reading, I just read really fast. I am one of those people who will finish a 400 page book in two days. I surpassed my goal of reading 41 books this year on Goodreads (my goal was 40! Come be my friend on Goodreads! I love to see what others are reading). I was pretty proud of myself.

I hope that you have seen my monthly reading posts. I am thinking of doing some kind of linkup or hashtag so that others can join. Would anyone even participate? Do people even read my blog anymore? Ha. I will link up all of the months of 2016 below if you want to see what I read and all of my thoughts on them.

Being in a Book Club has been so fun as well. This is not your typical gossip book club. It is a group of us who literally spend 3 hours once a month talking about the book the entire time. I'm not lying when I said 7 out of the 10 ladies are teachers. What nerds ;) . Let me know if you want to participate and join! We are, also, looking for a name for our book club. If you have any ideas for good book club names, let me know!

Okay, enough babbling. Here are the The Bad, the Good, and the Awesome Books of 2016.*
*in my opinion. It was hard to only put a few in each category!!

Let's start with the Bad. Get it out of the way.


+Major Pettigrew's Last Stand // Helen Simonson: So so so boring. I made it to chapter five and then gave up. It's about an old man in England who falls in love with Mrs. Ali. Major snoozefest.

+Shout Her Lovely Name // Natalie Serber: A story about a mother and daughter and their trials. It was so terrible I could barely finish it. Confusing and not very well written.

+Landline // Rainbow Rowell: I read "Attachments" for book club and I really enjoyed it, so I thought I would try some of Rainbow's other books. This one was so incredibly boring and horribly written. I couldn't even believe I finished it.


+Daring Greatly // Brene Brown: I love Brene Brown so so so so much. I enjoyed this novel a lot, but it definitely wasn't my favorite novel of hers. In this novel she talks about learning to step outside of your insecurities and comfort zone to "dare greatly." Some really great ideas, quotes, and concepts and one I would recommend.

+Intuitive Eating// Evelyn Tribole: This woman talks about her struggles with food and how to be "aware of what you are eating." Very good novel!

+Me Before You // Jojo Moyes: I read this book in one night. It definitely captured my attention. I loved the idea and the movie. The ending definitely had me confused (I don't know what I would do in that situation!). A good book!

+The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up// Marie Kondo: Very interesting take on cleaning up your life. I was fascinated by it and it definitely helped me organize parts of my life. I found that the process took too long, but I loved the idea and concept of it (and it did help me! I just don't have a year to do this! ha).

+Rain, Reign// Ann M. Martin:  Young Adult Novel about a girl with Asperger's from her point of view. I loved the concept of this book and it had me in tears at parts because of her relationship with her dog. A little scattered at parts, but it was my favorite young adult book that I've read this year.


+Quiet: Life of an Introvert in an Extraverted World // Susan Cain: This novel talks about what it is like to be an introvert in today's world of extreme extraverts. I don't know if it's just because I am a very extraverted introvert, but I absolutely loved this passage from an introvert's point of view. This is something that I think all people, introverts and extraverts alike need to read (especially if your spouse is the opposite of you!).

+The Nightingale // Kristin Hannah: The life of two women, very opposite sisters who live in France during World War II. Amazing!!!!! I cried like a baby.

+Ready Player One // Ernest Cline: Year 2044, teenage boy in virtual reality trying to deal with puzzles. It is hilarious, intriguing, and incredibly well written.

+Dad is Fat// Jim Gaffigan: Hilarious, hilarious, hilarious!  Autobiography of comedian Jim Gaffigan. I would encourage you to even listen to it on audiobook. I listened to it while reading along at parts. I really enjoyed it.

+Nineteen Minutes// Jodi Picoult: I read this novel about eight years ago, but we read it for book club so I decided to re-read it. I forgot how much I love her books. Even though Jodi Picoult's novels are all of the same, this one is definitely one of my favorites (and I have read a lot of books by her!). I thought this story about a young boy involved in a school shooting is interesting, relatable and it was incredibly well written.

Monthly Book Reviews

*January/February Books (did separate posts in these months)
-These Is My Words- Nancy E. Turner
-Go Set a Watchman-Harper Lee
-Daring Greatly-Brene Brown
-Quiet: Life of an Introvert in an Extraverted World- Susan Cain
*March (started combining all of my books in one post in March! Ha)

What books did you read in 2016? Which ones did you love? Which ones did you hate? I would love your thoughts!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Lessons Learned in 2016.

Before I begin, here are my Christmas/New Years posts over the past couple of weeks. I actually blogged. Thank you, winter break!

Merry Christmas (Card) 2016
Christmas Break 2016
Not-So-Great New Years Resolutions
My Word for 2017

I loved writing about what lessons I learned in 2015.  2016 was a rollercoaster year for me. I loved looking over my top posts and top Instagram moments last week. T and I had some great adventures, vacations, and memories. We have so much to be grateful for: wonderful friends, family, an adorable home, great jobs, and good health. With that being said, I was sick a lot over the course of the year. I felt a little stuck in my life and felt like I was at a crossroads, which is never fun. I had to learn to be happy in this moment of our lives, which can be challenging. I am so grateful for a life where I can learn new things (easy to say that now, huh?! Ha!).

Note: When I say "you" it is a generic you--meaning you, me, or you as a whole. 

Let yourself have FOMO. Being an Ainge, I was predisposed for what we call "FOMO--Fear Of Missing Out." I HATE feeling like I am being left out of things. Even when I don't necessarily want to go out or be somewhere, I feel obligated to because I don't want to be left out of things. I learned, real quickly in 2016, that it's okay to say no to certain things. It is okay to not be involved in every social aspect. It is okay to not be invited to everything. It is okay for people to do things without me; it's not personal.

Forgive. Because I am a "feeler", I tend to get my feelings hurt quite easily. This does not mean that I am weak or am always feeling sad. But because I feel things so deeply, I tend to overanalyze a situation (overanalyze? What? I never do this) or a person. I have learned that I cannot react emotionally when in an argument, disagreement, or fight with others. It is so important to forgive, even when the other person didn't even apologize. This is something I am still working on.

The gym can be so fun. I have seriously fallen in love with exercising and the gym! (I know!!!). I love the way I feel about myself, others and life when I exercise. I used to hate the gym, but now that I know how to use machines and know what to do, it is something that has helped my confidence and attitude! The key is to find workouts that work for your body and things that you enjoy doing!

Go to sleep when you are angry! Whoever said the advice to "not go to bed angry" was, I'm just going to say it, STUPID. Usually when I am angry at my husband (What? We never fight. I don't know what you're talking about ;), or after a long day teaching, or I'm hormonal...whatever it is. Usually, I just need sleep!!! T will look at me and say, "Just go to bed." And I do. Sometimes all you need is a good night's sleep!

No one cares as much as you think they do. That sounds harsh, but I don't think it means you may think. What I mean is that your peers, your neighbors, your friends, your family, your ward members, your coworkers...they are not paying attention to you as much as you think they are!!! So all of those insecurities that you are harboring, all of that comparing that you are doing..stop! People are worried about their families and their own lives, as they should be. Let your insecurities and comparison go, because I promise you, everyone else is either a) feeling the same way or b) just focusing on their own lives!

Travel. It seriously makes you love your life so much more. I have learned more about life traveling and teaching than anything else in my life. Go on adventures, go on road trips, do random spontaneous things--even if they are just local trips. It feels so good.

Teachers make crap money and I'm tired of it. That's all I really have to say about that. It's not right. Teachers deserve more. And I will fight this until the day I die! Haha.

The Savior loves you!!!!!! He loves me. He loves you. He is aware of you. I promise. I have to re-learn this every year. Apparently He wants me to know this.

What lessons did you learn in 2016?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Not-So-Great New Years Resolutions (& Some Good Ones!)

Last Year's Not-So-Great Resolutions were pretty epic, so I'm not sure if I can make some horrible resolutions again, but I assure you, I will try my best. I am not a die hard new years goals because, let's be honest, I usually forget about them by January 6th (Oh wait, that's today. I've already forgot about some. Look at that!) But, I do like to pick a word to focus on. Earlier this week, I posted my word that I want to focus on for the New Year.

With that being said, I do like to pick a few things from each category of my life to either keep working on and improve on. I realize that some of them might be vague. I think it's also important to  be realistic.
Okay, let's get to the not-so-great resolutions.  THE FUN STUFF. 
2016 was a solid 8/10. I'm not going to lie, my not-so-great resolutions didn't happen. Shocking. 
I cannot wait to see what 2017 brings. 

In 2017, I hope to: 

Continue my obsession with the Bachelor (which started on Monday. You can see my live tweets here. You're welcome). 

Make Saylor cuddle with me even when she doesn't want to. 

Continue to post really good pictures of me (see above) on Instagram and Snapchat (@sierrasview). (Why am I always so good looking? I have got the whole not-looking-at-the-camera-blogging-look DOWN). 

Move to Maui full time. 

Have twins (one boy and one girl) and be done with having children. One and done. Boom. 

Lose 200 pounds (K, but seriously. I want at least 50 of these bad boys GONE. Working on it!). 

Make Amy Schumer my best friend (It didn't work last year). 

Force my husband to be done with bachelor's degree and instantly become rich (He should be done in December! Ahhhh IT'LL BE A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE). The rich part is super plausible and realistic, I know. 

Never get mad at my sixth graders (hahahahahahahaha).

Get three more puppies. 

Re-watch Gilmore Girls and Friends while doing laundry. Again. 

Actually put away my laundry. 

Maybe cook some dinner one of these nights.  (meh). 

Read 5 books every month. I wish I was kidding when I made this goal, but this could actually happen. Yikes. (But really, I want to read at least 2 a month!). I read 40 books in 2016. I'll probably read more than 2 a month. But hey, life happens.  

Pray that people will stop talking about the stupid election. ENOUGH ALREADY. 

Convince anyone over the age of 70 to get off Facebook. 

That's all I can think of. 
2017 looks promising, don't ya think?

In all seriousness though, I wanted to write a couple of my ACTUAL resolutions down. I don't like to make huge ones because I am not very good with follow through (I am really good at starting things though! Ha). Just a couple per facet in my life. Notice how I write "try" on many of them. Haha. Of course everything takes effort, so I will definitely try on all of these.

+Read scriptures and/or Conference talk daily (at least one). This is something that my patriarchal blessing talks about, probably because, well, I suck at doing it consistently. I love to read/listen to my scriptures and conference talks, but I cannot seem to get a routine down with them. I am really going to try this year!!!

+Gain a testimony of the mundane aspects of the gospel. Sometimes I tend to overlook those everyday things in the gospel, when really, that is where strength comes from. I want to try to get to church on time (ha! Good luck when we have kids!), do my visiting teaching more often, attend the temple by myself and with T monthly), and not procrastinating my tithing. I don't want to put set numbers on these things because then I feel like they become "duties", however they are things that I do want to focus on with my spiritual well-being.

+Write in my journal at least once a week (bullet points, if needed!). Because I have this blog I tend to neglect my personal journal. I want to look for something to be grateful for everyday and to work on my word of the year (patience) while writing in my journal.

-Do the 91 Day Home De-Clutter Challenge at some point this year. My house is quite clean, but I really want to throw away junk. I cannot believe how much junk just T and I accumulate after one 3 1/2 years of marriage (and we don't even have that much. I'm just a little bit of a minimalist!).

-Read at least two books a month. I love book club and I love to read. I think that this is something quite manageable for me. I am excited to make a plan for books to read in 2017!!

-Continue to figure out my hormones/medicines/vitamins to help. I cannot tell how many days I have spent crying over trying to figure out my body and it's hormones. It's discouraging and aggravating. I am going to continue to figure out what to do with it and try my best. I will not kill myself because it's not worth it. But I will do what I can. That's all I can ask for myself (I need to be patient with myself!).

-Continue to work out 4-6 times a week. 4 minimum (This is something that I already do, but I want to keep it going!).

-Be able to run a 5k by summer!

-Keep improving and writing on my blog as much as possible! (Switch blog to wordpress). I want to shoot for writing on my blog at least once a week (2-3 if possible), but I can't promise. Again, I will try my hardest!

Maybe: Start my photography cards!
Try to make my bed as often as possible (Guys, I really hate to do this!!).


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Mountains! Snow! Christmas Break! heaven! Today I went to the gym, ran errands, and cleaned my house IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. It's seriously amazing what I can get done in the middle of the day when I don't have a full time job! Haha. Our christmas break ends on Tuesday (and we got out on the 22nd, don't even get me started). I am already dreading having to go back to teaching. I love my kiddos and my job, but this whole not-working thing is seriously amazing. And I can already feel that the break was not long enough!

Our Christmas was pretty low-key, but it was a great day spent with my in-laws. I tried really hard to focus on the "reason for the season" this year, so gifts were not over-the-top, but I was impressed with what I got T-Money with our budget. I am so grateful that I was able to sing in church on Christmas Sunday and to participate in so many fun, festive Christmas activities over the month of December so that I could focus on our Savior and his birth. I promised myself that is something that I would do and I stuck to it. The whole Christmas season seemed so much better! This whole week I have been catching up with my life: working out twice a day, cleaning, and running errands. It hasn't been super exciting, but it has been productive and slow-paced, which is so nice for a change. T has had to work all week so it's pretty much been me and Saylor, my sidekick, doing things. And I've loved it!!!

I have been up in the canyons hiking in the snow a few times this week to change my workouts around (so that I'm not always just as the gym! ha). Plus, watching Saylor run in the snow might be the cutest thing in the world. If you don't have a dog, you don't understand. I caught some absolutely gorgeous photos while on some of my hikes. It is freeeeezing up in the canyons, but I stayed bundled up and tried to enjoy the outdoors. I will show you those amazing sites and photos below. As always, please do not take without permission. 

Over the break, I:
-read three books. Man alive, am I nerd, or what?
-deep cleaned my house (like doors, baseboards, everything).
-Did about 7 loads of laundry. Yikes.
-hiked in the canyons multiple times. So gorgeous!
-went to the gym. A lot.
-slept. A lot.
-saw movies (my fav) and watched Netflix (also my fav).
-ran a gazillion errands.
-drank a lot of sodalicious (guilty).
-saw grandparents and cousins and family members all over Utah.
-Took down Christmas decor (and cried while doing it. Always makes me sad).
-Went to a New Years Eve Casino night.
-Caught up with friends.
-cuddled with Saylor. A lot.

If you follow me on Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, you may have already known these things, but it's fine. Whatever. (@sierrasview for all).

Without further ado, here is WINTER IN NORTHERN UTAH. AS THE YOUTH WOULD SAY, "I JUST CAN'T EVEN." Also, just take a moment and look at that stinkin' adorable dog. I'm obsessed with her. I think we all knew that though. Note: these were all taken on different days, hence the different lighting.


The lighting on this day was ~perfect. 

Love the edit on this one, too. 

And the Saylor photo shoot starts NOW...

Mom. Stop. 

Had to edit this one a little different. Love the look of this. 

look at my cute house in the snow!!!! I'm obsessed. 

Utah. You are cold, but, MAN you're beautiful.
Wish all the teachers luck as they endeavor back to school this week. Gahhhhhhhh.

Monday, January 2, 2017

My Word for 2017.

Honestly, 2016 was pretty good for me, personally, even though the rest of the world seems to think that it fell apart. Ha. I loved looking back on 2016--some of the best moments and posts that it encompassed (post HERE). As I look to the upcoming year, I want to pick a word to work towards and focus on. I am not huge on New Years Resolutions. I love making personal goals, but I feel like on NYE, people overdo it. So, I am going to choose a word to focus on this upcoming year and try to incorporate it into every facet of my life. I, also, like last year, want to talk about some REAL, NOT-SO-GREAT Resolutions (look for that post on Friday!). Because, let's be honest, by January 4th, I am over most of NYE goals ;).

Let's do this! My word of the year....

That's right. You read that correctly. My word and goal that I want to focus on for 2017 is patience. Those of you who know me very well are probably laughing out loud. Patience is not something that comes easily to me. I want to work on my patience in every aspect of my life. 

I want to become more patient with my husband. T Money is not perfect and I tend to have extremely high expectations from him. I want that patience to be worked into our marriage. 

I want to be more patient with my students and in my career. Being a sixth grade teacher comes with many challenges. I feel like I am more of a therapist than a teacher to these students: emotionally, socially, and academically. I want to work on my patience as a teacher. I am starting to feel a little "burnt out" and I need to remember why I became a teacher in the first place and be patient with my students and myself in my career. 

I want to be more patient with my Savior. I tend to get impatient when He doesn't respond to my prayers or questions, or responds in a way that I don't necessarily want. I want to be more patient with my fellow church-goers, neighbors, ward members, and other members of my church. I know that the LDS church is looked at really negatively right now and I don't think that my negativity helps. 

Along with that, I want to be more patient with people that I deal with on a daily basis. Whether that be strangers, coworkers, friends, my own family members,  etc. I want to work on being more patient and not automatically assuming the worst of others.

Mostly, I want to be more patient with myself. I need to use that patience in times of doubt or frustration with myself. I tend to be my hardest critic. I want my body to be where it used to be. I want my life to be at a certain point. I want T to be done with school and I want to think about starting a family. But what I want isn't necessarily what is best. I want to use that patience towards my physical health. It will not come automatically. All I can do is the best I can. I want to use patience towards my spiritual well-being. I am not going to be perfect, but I can try. I want to practice patience in my intellectual and work life. I want to use patience in my mental and emotional health. I get frustrated with myself when I get emotional or when dealing with my Depression. I want to remind myself about PATIENCE during those times. 

Being patient with others even when I am tired and stressed is something that I definitely need to work on. I honestly believe that most people are just doing the best that they can and I need to remember that, even during times of frustrations. 

I encourage you all to pick a word to focus on for the New Year.
What is your word? I would love your thoughts.

Happy 2017, friends!

Friday, December 30, 2016

BEST OF 2016.

Oh 2016, you fell least that's what the world seems to think.
For me, personally, it was a pretty good year. Nothing amazing, though. Honestly the best part about 2016? Living in Maui for a month. Besides that, I'd give 2016 a 8/10. B average. Do I sound like a Diva yet?

But, in all seriousness, I am so grateful for everything I've been given! I have such a wonderful life and I can't wait to look back at the best moments of 2016. This is one of my favorite posts to do every year!

via Instagram. These are my "most liked" photos on Instagram this year. And I think it encompasses my year quite perfectly.

Here are my top moments in life and blogging of 2016 (in no particular order)

Top moments:
1) Hanging out with Saylor. She's my best bud. I love my doggie.
2) Dressing up as the Crazy cat lady for Halloween. It was a hoot.
2) Gorgeous sunset at my cabin in Crescent Lake, Oregon. (And just visiting my cabin!)
3) Visiting the Oregon Coast (Haystack Rock).
4) Meeting Elaine Dalton and working on my spiritual goals. I have been working on my spiritual habits and I have noticed it changing my life.
5) Learning to love the winter here in Utah, despite the cold. I love the views and beauty!
6) Gorgeous Fall hikes and working on my nature photography.
7) Starting my fifth year teaching sixth grade!
8) Utah National Parks for Spring Break: Bryce Canyon was my favorite this visit.
9) Utah Canyon hikes are my favorite! I have done so many challenging, rewarding and beautiful hikes!
10) Living in Maui for a month in July, of course!!!!

Top 10 Blog Posts from this year:
1) Celebrating third anniversary with T-Money in July: His hilarious interview. 
2) Things to Remember When You Feel Like You are Not Enough. 
3) Quotes to Lift You Up. 
4) Monthly Book Reviews (I love these!). June was the highest views!
5) How We Wore It Fashion Collaborations. Workout Clothes!
6) Maui Guidebook posts: Road to Hana.
7) Nature Photography: Fall!
8) Utah Hiking Series: Silver Lake AF Canyon.
9) Why Everyone Needs a Dog. 
10) Ainge Reunion in Oregon. 

Looks like my travels: Maui, Oregon coast, Eastern Oregon cabin, Portland, Utah National Parks are your favorite posts! Well, you are in luck because more travels will be happening in 2017 (including Italy in January!). I am so excited to see what lessons, adventures, and fun will happen this upcoming year. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


These holiday months have completely flown by. Where does time go?
Before I knew it, I didn't even post my November reads and it's the end of December. Ha. So,  you get two months of books. Yay!!!!!!

The Nightingale // Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction 

Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: Despite their differences, sisters Viann and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Viann is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Viann finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her. As the war progresses, the sisters' relationship and strength is tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Viann and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

My thoughts: This book was probably my favorite book that I read in all of 2016. I wish I could explain the emotion I felt while reading it. I got teary-eyed about three different times throughout the novel, which is something that is really hard for me. It takes a lot for me to actually get emotional in books these days. I love reading World War II novels and the historical fiction around them. Often times, I get annoyed with World War II novels because there are so many of them, but I love the point of view that this story was written in. It was from France's experience during the war and that is something that I am not too knowledgeable about. Because of that, I loved that perspective. I loved the two main characters. Of course I am all about Team Isabelle simply because of her tenacity and spark and passion towards life. But, I loved Viann in a way. She was endearing and kind and lovable. I love the two stories intertwining together and the theme was portrayed in this novel. This book is 400+ pages and I read it in two nights. It is a novel that you don't want to put down, one that tears at your heart strings, and binds you to the story immensely. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“In love we find out who we want to be, in war we find out who we are.”

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo// Amy Schumer

Genre: Nonfiction/Autobiography

Rating: 3/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is - a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

My thoughts: I love Amy Schumer because 1) I think she's hilarious, 2) Her woman-pride! Yes! and 3) I feel like we would be best friends in real life. With that being said, I felt like this book was trying way too hard. I felt like she was trying too hard to be dirty. The book was a little all of over the place and kind of pointless at times. I laughed out loud at a few things, but it was not as funny as I'd hoped it to be because I felt like she was trying too hard. It was a fun, light read though. If you are sensitive to the F-word then don't read it (or listen to it! ha). 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“I know my worth. I embrace my power. I say if I'm beautiful. I say if I'm strong. You will not determine my story. I will. I'll speak and share and fuck and love, and I will never apologize for it. I am amazing for you, not because of you. I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you.

Bud, Not Buddy// Christopher Paul Curtis

Genre: Historical Fiction (YA)

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: It's 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Times may be hard, and ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but Bud's got a few things going for him:1. He has his own suitcase filled with his own important, secret things.2. He's the author of Bud Caldwell's Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself.3. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: flyers of Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!Bud's got an idea that those flyers will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road and find this mystery man, nothing can stop him--not hunger, not fear, not vampires, not even Herman E. Calloway himself.

My thoughts: Because I teach sixth grade, I am always trying to read a young adult novel. I read this book back when I was in elementary school, but I wanted to re-read it because I am participating in a book challenge with my fellow teachers and students. This book is such a classic. I love Bud's character so much. He is spunky, intelligent and relatable on many levels.  The voice in this novel is strong as it talks about a young black boy in Flint, Michigan during the Great Depression. It was poignant, well-written and an enjoyable young adult novel. I would recommend it to my students (and their parents!). 

Favorite Quote from the book: “There comes a time when you're losing a fight that it just doesn't make sense to keep on fighting. It's not that you're being a quitter, it's just that you've got the sense to know when enough is enough.” 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child // John Tiffany, J.K. Rowling, & Jack Thorne

Genre: Fantasy (play) 

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016. It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

My thoughts: Everyone has their opinion on this "new" Harry Potter book. However, I'm not sure I would even consider it as Harry Potter #8. It is witten as a play, which was a little difficult for me at first to read, but once I got into it, I kind of loved it. I loved that I could picture the actual play in my mind as I read. (I tend to do this anyway when I am reading. I picture it as a movie). It is not even written by JK Rowling fully, so I wouldn't even put it in the series, if that makes sense. All in all, I enjoyed the novel/script. It was not my favorite, but it is always enjoyable to re-visit that magical world that I loved as a child and still love today. 

Favorite Quote from the book: "DUMBLEDORE: Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.”

Rain, Reign // Ann M. Martin

Genre: Realistic Fiction (YA) 

Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: Rose Howard has Asperger’s syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Rain was a lost dog Rose’s father brought home. Rose and Rain are practically inseparable. And they are often home alone, as Rose’s father spends most evenings at a bar, and doesn’t have much patience for his special-needs daughter.Just as a storm hits town, Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. Rose will find Rain, but so will Rain’s original owners.

My thoughts: This was such a fantastic novel. I loved it so much! Having a nephew with Aspergers and students who have it yearly, I feel that I am pretty knowledgeable about it. I was curious to see how Martin’s character would be written. She definitely did her homework, or has previous experience/knowledge on the subject, because she hit the nail on the head with this character. So many of Rose’s characteristics were familiar to me, and I love that Martin wasn’t just writing how she thought a character would be, this character was spot on for Aspergers. The relationship that Rose has with her dog Rain, who her father brought home one rainy night, is more than your average child/pet relationship. They have this really amazing bond that goes above and beyond a normal friendship, and I loved this bond so, so much.

Favorite Quote from the book: Talking about her dog: "I wrap (rap) my arms around her and feel her soft fur (fir) against my cheek. "I love you," I tell her.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

These are the best pictures we could get this year. 

This year was a whirlwind for us. We didn't send out a christmas card because I'm sure people are sick of seeing Tanner, me, and Saylor. Ha. I tell Tanner that I will send out a Christmas card once we have one of those children things. Either way, receiving Christmas cards is one of my favorite traditions, so keep 'em coming, guys. 

Without further ado, here is our "online Christmas card." 

Tanner is still attending Utah Valley University studying Business Marketing. He has one more year left! The end is in sight. T Money hates school, he'll be the first one to tell you that, but he is working hard to get done and get that degree! He works part time at a marketing company called 180 Fusion and is loving it. He is loved by all animals and all kids and it absolutely melts my heart (and it sort of pisses me off). He plays on a soccer and basketball team and is a baller on the field and court! Ha. 

I am still teaching sixth grade. After five years, you would think that I wouldn't be shocked by hormonal twelve year olds, but, alas, I am. I am on a pretty strict workout plan and I have learned to love working out and hiking like crazy when the weather is nice.  Now if I can just get myself to start love running! There is something so peaceful to me about nature.  I am still taking nature photos part time and creating cards. I really hope to get that underway as a business one of these days. For now, I do it for a hobby and I am totally okay with it. I am still loving blogging and writing on here, but like usual, it has kind of taken a back seat to some other things in my life. Sorry, blog. I am still reading like a fiend and love book club. (look for my "Books Read in 2016" post--also my 2016 year in review post). I am missing singing and am looking into doing a musical in 2017. You know, with all of my spare time while teaching ;).

We are teaching sunbeams together and actually kind of love it. Those kids say the funniest things in church. By far our favorite memory of this year is living in Maui for a month in July and it was absolute heaven. We have done lots of fun adventures throughout Utah, including visiting Bryce Canyon for Spring Break. We are still in the process of updating our adorable first home and we love it. Both of us love having our little puppy child, Saylor. 

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas time and Happy Holiday season. We are grateful for all of our dear family and friends. Even more so, we are grateful for the Birth of our Savior and all the blessings he has bestowed upon us. 

All our love,
Tanner and Sierra 

Friday, November 11, 2016

On Setting Boundaries.

A few years ago, when I would hear that word, I used to cringe. The idea of having boundaries made me sick to my stomach. I was not good at setting, giving, or explaining my boundaries to other people. When I heard the word "boundaries", I, in my brain, imagined a fence, literally and figuratively fencing me in. Boundaries, in my opinion, meant that I had to a "brat" or that I was being selfish.

I have explained my love for Brene Brown on this blog many times. I have read her novel The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong numerous times. Brene is a researcher who studies the idea of vulnerability. That idea then transformed into boundaries, confidence, and relying on oneself to be successful in this life. I am so fascinated with her research and this idea of boundaries and vulnerability as well. I think the reason why I am so entranced with it is because those are both things that are extremely prevalent in my life.

My friend sent me this quote that she wrote awhile back about boundaries and relationships: "I hope you understand that when I'm trying to be your friend I'm sharing your pain by choice because we are all here together so no one should hurt alone. I will defend you, uplift you, be a helping hand, motivate, appreciate and validate your existence. I will nurture you. I will, also, despite hardship,  appeal any wrongdoings unto you. That is my vow, those are my words. This is my promise to you as the most sincerest of love and devotion to a person."

I believe that a good friend is one who helps someone else see their potential and his or her BEST SELF. If you truly love someone, I believe that it is imperative that you are forming a relationship where you are uplifting them and not consistently tearing them down. I have quite a few people in my life whom, it seems, subconsciously tear me down. I don' even think that these people are even aware that they make me feel self conscious or uncomfortable and not completely myself. And, ultimately, that's not their fault. It is my choice how I feel. Ultimately, I determine how I feel about myself, regardless of the actions or comments or thoughts from others. With that being said, setting boundaries will always come into play in any relationship: platonic or romantic. If a relationship is no longer for you, it is okay to walk away. It is okay to say, "This relationship is not fulfilling me in the way that is healthy."

However, you cannot, obviously, walk away from every relationship that hurts you. That is part of being human and part of growing. This is where setting boundaries comes into play.  Those relationships that you cherish and want to keep around are important. It is imperative that you set up boundaries in particular circumstances. And stick to them. Whatever those boundaries are, regarding bringing up certain topics (finance, body image, religion, politics, etc.), you need to clearly state them  to these people. And from there, you need to remind them, if so be it.

Boundaries are crucial for healthy relationships and this is something that I am working on. Recently, in a book club with some friends, we were discussing that difficult part of transforming from "Best Friends" to "Acquaintances." Obviously, this is something that is inevitable for all of us. There doesn't need to be any reason for this happening, often times it just happens. There are times when we cannot and will not have the same relationship with someone as we did a few years earlier, and that's okay. Distance, age, and life circumstances causes this to happen all of the time.

Allowing yourself the ability to distance yourself from others is imperative in the process of setting boundaries. It is okay to say no. It is okay to not be as close with past friends. It is okay to move on to the next phase of life. Setting those boundaries, saying no, will, ultimately allow you to open your heart to new friends, new hobbies, and new experiences. Setting boundaries is not a fence, it is a door, that allows you to free yourself of any guilt or pain that others may cause you.

I challenge each of you to set a boundary this week. It will empower you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hi Friends.

Via Instagram 
Hi friends. It's been awhile since I've just written, huh? 
Here is a selfie of me. It is hard for me to be in pictures because I hate my double chin and my stomach and my imperfections. I look at pictures of me in high school and I want to laugh out loud because I thought I was fat. HA. If only my stupid 16 year old brain only knew the struggles of PCOS I would have later on. Sometimes, however, it is so important for others to see your imperfections because it helps them connect with you. Sometimes it is important for ME to see them, so that I can remind myself of the good things about myself. Does that make sense? I don't know if it does. My brain is a little scattered right now. 

Life has been good. I wouldn't say it's amazing and I wouldn't say it is terrible. I just feel content. In my mind, that is a perfect way to be. Because I tend to feel things so deeply, I tend to have "Extreme" time periods--where things are terrible or wonderful, there doesn't seem to be any in between. (Which is one of my vices. I am working on it!). So the feeling of just being content makes me happy, if that makes sense.  
It has been abnormally warm here in November. Today, as I am typing this, it is 70 degrees! In Utah! And it's almost winter! I am not complaining though, if I'm being honest. I am a sun worshipper, so I will do anything to have warmth stay as long as possible. However, it is a little difficult to feel the "Thanksgiving and Christmas feeling" when its warm, I have found. How do you Californians and Arizonans (Arizonians?) do it? 
I have been working out like crazy. My BMI has gone done 5 points since last October, which is awesome, but my weight is not going down! It's frustrating, but I am trying to exercise to feel better. I am a better wife, teacher, friend and person when I exercise regularly, even if it's just a 30 minute walk. 
I am reading like crazy as well (what's new?). I have this terrible habit of avoiding things and reading books. It's not good. I spent all Saturday cleaning my house an going on a gorgeous hike though, so I'm not completely negligent to my responsibilities. Ha! I am currently reading the new Harry Potter, Bud, Not Buddy (sixth grade book for my students), and Big Little Lies. I can't wait to share with you my monthly reads at the end of November. 
I am learning to put myself out there and continue to make new friends. I tend to get stuck and want to keep the same friends that I always have, but I have learned that it doesn't necessarily work that. I love my college friends, but It's time to find other friends, new friends, to relate to and connect with as well. I am loving my monthly book club and Bunco group with other fun, intelligent, beautiful women who get my crazy sense of humor and deep thoughts! 
I am working on my scripture study and trying to really take to heart what the prophets and apostles of my church are saying. I am not a perfect Christian, but I am working on trusting my leaders and taking what they say with a positive outlook. This is hard for me because I am a stubborn one. 

I hope things are well for you. I know that I have not written in awhile, but it's mostly because I don't really know what to say. Come follow on Twitter and Instagram for more daily updates! 

What's new with you?