Sierra's View: June 2016

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Thursday, June 23, 2016


Well, it's almost the end of June, which breaks my little teacher heart. 
I have been the worst at blogging, which breaks my little writing heart. Sorry, guys. (Cause I know you are all incredibly distraught. When, really, its just my mom who reads this blog). 
I have been spending A LOT of time with my dog, which I'm not sure if I feel pathetic or awesome because of this fact. Probably a little bit of both, to be honest. 

Here's the thing. T Money has been gone since the end of April selling pest control (Hey, don't hate. It's good money). Which is good for our family for $$$$, but it sucks for my emotional state. It's freaking lonely and hard to not have your significant other around. I don't have any children (except Saylor) or anyone to hang out with (except Saylor). See, people like to make fun of me because I love my dog like my child right now. And I used to get so upset by that, but I have officially accepted it. 

You're right, I DON'T have children. For reasons that only matter to T and me, thank you very much. (Side note: it's nobody else's business when we decide to have children...come on, Utah!). But because of that, my house is so quiet. And Saylor and I have become best friends over the past two months. I am so grateful to have her because it's nice just to hear another set of footprints and other noises in my home. She is always up for any type of activity (hiking, walking, doing yard work, playing outside, cuddling on the couch--see other reasons why you need a dog HERE). 

So, I have accepted that Saylor is my best friend right now. And that's okay. Dogs understand you. They are loyal to their owners. I am an incredibly loyal person and sometimes I feel let down from friends or the people around me because they aren't as loyal as me, which is okay. With Saylor, she is always willing to listen and play and cuddle and hike. What else could you want? Plus, she is crazy smart and is an emotional therapy dog (she loves babies and kids, too!) so, she's pretty much the best. 

I love my t-shirt from Taylor at The Daily Tay. She sells these t shirts for dog charities and I think it's simply the best. It is so comfy!!! You can buy yours on her etsy shop

In other news, we found Saylor's twin but 20 pounds heavier (and a golden doodle instead of a mini aussie doodle). This is my friend's dog, Opie, and he is Saylor in a bigger, male version. They played so well together. I love them. 

I was joking with my friend that I'm going to do a monthly update of my dog, like they do with babies. Just put a sign in front of her "22 months old....loves sticks, playing with kids, and eating grass." Hahahahahahah. I'm not really, guys. But I have to admit, that would be kind of funny. No? Okay. 

Do you have a dog?
What breed? 
What do you love about your dog? 

Friday, June 10, 2016


Yes, I know it is almost halfway through June and I am just telling you about the novels that I read in May. As I stated in my last post, May always tends to be a stressful, difficult time for me and my emotions. Something that I do to relax and escape from stress is read. With that fact, May was a month of reading (although, really, what month isn't these days?). I love to read. I love to listen to audiobooks. A lot of times I will read these novels while listening to audiobooks and BAM, I get done with them so fast!

I like the cover that was on my book much more than the cover of the two people holding hands? That was weird.
Nineteen Minutes// Jodi Picoult

Genre: Realistic Fiction 

Rating: 4 (.5)/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: Sterling is an ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens--until the day its complacency is shattered by an act of violence. Josie Cormier, the daughter of the judge sitting on the case, should be the state's best witness, but she can't remember what happened before her very own eyes--or can she? As the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show--destroying the closest of friendships and families. Nineteen Minutes asks what it means to be different in our society, who has the right to judge someone else, and whether anyone is ever really who they seem to be.

My thoughts: 

For Book Club this month, we read this book. Oh man, where do I even begin?!  I read this book back in 2009 and it is so different reading it now, in 2016, as a teacher. I found that I didn't remember much from what I read seven years ago. This is definitely, in my opinion, one of Jodi Picoult's best novels, if not, her best. Like we discussed at book club, we tend to lump Jodi Picoult into one category of all of her novels being the same. Although I do think that can be true, I, also, do love reading many of her books. Each of her novels has an internal and moral struggle that characters have to go through, and they almost all involve a court case. This specific novel is about a school shooting and all of the people encompassed in it. You read perspectives from the judge, the two lawyers, the boy himself, his mother, the students who were shot, etc. I read this novel in 48 hours and could not put it down. 

Here are my thoughts (yes, I could go on forever regarding this novel. We had such an awesome discussion at book club!) 

1. Sometimes the perpetrator of a heinous crime is the biggest victim of them all. Reading the things that Peter (the shooter) went through sometimes brought me to tears. I have never understood how people can treat others so badly, and the behavior of the bullies in this story was beyond the pale. It was easy to see how he could have been driven to do what he did, even though it was absolutely horrific.

2. High school is hard. I think most of us can look back on our high school days and remember struggling to fit in, remember the cruelty of some kids, and remember thinking that being "popular" meant you'd made it in life. Now, with my adult perspective, I can see how silly much of it was, but I remember that it was very real to me. I wasn't popular, but I did find my niche. I went through my share of teasing, and in the end I think it made me a stronger person, however I never endured anything like what Peter had to endure and I wonder how I would have gotten through something like that.

3. Nobody can judge a situation perfectly equitably. Not even a superior court judge. The storyline of Alex and her daughter showed that quite well, but so did the stories of most of the characters. You can't judge only on face value, or even on actions only. Piccoult did an excellent job of playing Devil's advocate for every single much so, that it is difficult to make up your mind one way or the other.

4. Schools may have a zero tolerance policy for bullying, but in reality, they turn a blind eye to much of it. We discussed in book club, though, do you think that bullying has changed? And how teachers deal with it? In the novel, it spoke a ton about teachers turning a blind eye to this bullying. Do you think that this is the case nowadays  I have experienced this a bit with Bria's schools. I think it is impossible for the teachers and administration to really see what is going on all the time, but I do think that they need to be more aware of who is the bully and who is the victim. It was very sad and even gut wrenching to see how the teachers either didn't want to deal with Peter's situation, half heartedly dealt with it, encouraged it, or punished him right along with the bully. I don't really know what the answer is, but it seems to me there's got to be something better. This part was confusing, saddening, and frustrating to read as a teacher. 

5. Peter's crime shouldn't be blamed on his parents, but they aren't guilt free, either. We can see that Peter's parents did what they thought was best, and they loved him. However, from the time he was born, they constantly compared him to his older brother, who was seemingly perfect. It got to a point that Peter couldn't confide in them about the hurt he was experiencing, because they always asked why he couldn't just be like Joey. And then to have Joey killed tragically a year before Peter's shooting spree didn't help. Both parents eventually admitted to themselves that they would have rather had Peter been killed in the car accident instead of Joey. Wow. I am pretty sure that kind of an attitude is evident to children, no matter how hard you try to hide it. Other mistakes these parents made were writing off Peter's anti social behaviors for normal teenage boy actions, and not really trying to have a relationship with him. Allowing him his privacy, instead of finding out what he was up to and what was going on in his life in a way that showed they truly were interested about him and truly cared. They seemed to be the poster children for loving, but lazy, parenting. (Which really isn't loving, actually).

Likewise, Alex had issues being a mother, and it took a tragic event to help her to reevaluate her priorities and her actions as Josie's mother. I could not stand Alex, the main character. I thought she was annoying and selfish. With that being said, I was happy she recognized her mistakes and worked to be better, but still, much of the damage had already been done. At least it wasn't as bad of a situation as Peter's parents were in, where the damage had all been done and there was no repairing any of it.

6. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what the mitigating circumstances are. The law is still the law. Alex dealt with this early in her career as a judge...not agreeing with some laws but still having to uphold them legally (gun control). And of course, Peter and Josie needed to pay for their actions. That is the law. I don't think it could be any different, and of course, I don't excuse Peter for what he did. As the trial showed, there were other kids who were bullied just as much who didn't decide to shoot up the school. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“There are two ways to be happy: improve your reality, or lower your expectations.” 

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up// Marie Kondo 

Genre: Self Help 

Rating: 3/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles? Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you'll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. 

My thoughts: 
 I liked a lot of the ideas that were in this novel, particularly:
1) Keep only the articles of clothing that bring you joy. I love the idea to ask yourself, "Does this bring me joy?" If the answer is no, then throw it away.
2) I loved her idea of separate papers into three distinct piles: currently in use, need for a limited period of time, and must be kept.
3) I thought it was incredibly enlightening when she talked about the two biggest reasons we can't let things go- attachment to the past or fear for the future. I also loved that she talked about tidying things up increases your confidence and decision making. I have seen that aspect in my life numerous times.

I am a very organized person, so tidying does not seem to be a problem for me. But as I was reading this book, I realized that I may not be as organized as I would like. I still have a few closets or areas in my home and life that need to be "cleaned out" and this book was good motivation for me. I did not love her ideas that all of our belongings have a spirit and a life. I felt that was a little extreme, but I understand where she was coming from. Overall, this book had some helpful tips, however, it was not my favorite book. I loved the helpful tips that she gave regarding organizing papers and getting rid of things. I tend to hold on to things like cards, invitations, etc. so this was a good process for me to start thinking about it. It has completely motivated me to start organizing those particular parts of my house! I would recommend this book to someone who needs to deep clean and organize closets and rooms in their environment. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.” 

The Wright Brothers// David McCullough 

Genre: Biography 

Rating: 3/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: David McCullough draws on the immense riches of the Wright Papers, including private diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks, and more than a thousand letters from private family correspondence to tell the human side of the Wright Brothers' story, including the little-known contributions of their sister, Katharine, without whom things might well have gone differently for them. 

My thoughts: 
McCullough tells stories about the boys' childhood, their strong relationship with their father and sister, their early attempts at gliders and flying machines, those famous first flights in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and finally of their international fame and travels. 

My favorite stories were about how intelligent and determined the brothers were. They never seemed to give up hope that they would one day solve the problem of human flight. They kept modifying and improving their flying machines, and even after several crashes, the brothers insisted on continuing to fly. They never seemed afraid to go up in the air.

This story was definitely interesting, but it was not my favorite novel of David Mccullough's. There were times that I was quite bored with all of the unneeded information. Overall, very interesting, but can be quite boring at times.  

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“But it isn’t true,” Orville responded emphatically, “to say we had no special advantages . . . the greatest thing in our favor was growing up in a family where there was always much encouragement to intellectual curiosity.” 

The Boy Who Dared// Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Genre: Historical Fiction (Young Adult) 

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: When 16-year-old Helmuth Hubner listens to the BBC news on an illegal short-wave radio, he quickly discovers Germany is lying to the people. But when he tries to expose the truth with leaflets, he's tried for treason. Sentenced to death and waiting in a jail cell, Helmut's story emerges in a series of flashbacks that show his growth from a naive child caught up in the patriotism of the times to a sensitive and mature young man who thinks for himself

My thoughts: The book flips perspectives from the present to memories Helmuth has leading up to why he is in jail. The voice of the narrator is consistent and gives you a good insight of how Helmuth changes from a little boy to a young adult who can think for himself. This storyline had a different take on this time period. There are numerous books written about this time, but I have never encountered one that had the protagonist belong to the Hitler Youth. The group intrigues him at first and you can easily see why. Hitler puts them on pedalstool, saying they are the new generation needed for the country with shiny boots and sharp uniforms to seal the deal. Through all the dazzle he comes to learn that he really can't go by with doing nothing about the wrongness of what is happening around him. I read this story with my sixth graders and they LOVED it. They were intrigued with the history and intensity of the novel. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“There are many reasons for a person to lie, but to have a reason to tell the truth, you must have deep belief. And great courage.” 

The Year of Yes// Shonda Rhimes 

Genre: Autobiography 

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary:  With three hit shows on television and three children at home, the uber-talented Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say NO when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No.

And there was the side-benefit of saying No for an introvert like Shonda: nothing new to fear.

Then Shonda’s sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say YES to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed―and the result was nothing short of transformative. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life―and how we can all change our lives with one little word. Yes.

My thoughts: 
I had the privilege of reading this novel and listening to it in my car. I loved seeing Shonda's personality in her writing and also in her speaking as she was reading her book. As many of us know, Shonda is writer and creator of Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder. She writes tv shows that captivate people (at least me!) and I had to know what her autobiography was like.
Yes, the novel was not amazing. There were definite flaws like her rambling on at times. But what I loved the most about this novel was the fact that she was honest and real. She explained her trials, her weaknesses, and what she needed to do in order to fix them. I love reading about people who have been through things and I felt like she was open and honest. She was, also, hilarious! I found myself laughing out loud numerous times. Her novel made you want to sit down with her and have lunch to discuss even more details of her life. (Side note: I wanted to know her baby daddy situation. She's single with three little girls? Divorced? Dad never in picture? Different dads? I wanted her to explain that!).

Favorite Quote from the book: 
"There is no list of rules. There is one rule. The rule is: there are no rules. Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be. Being traditional is not traditional anymore. It’s funny that we still think of it that way. Normalize your lives, people. You don’t want a baby? Don’t have one. I don’t want to get married? I won’t. You want to live alone? Enjoy it. You want to love someone? Love someone. Don’t apologize. Don’t explain. Don’t ever feel less than. When you feel the need to apologize or explain who you are, it means the voice in your head is telling you the wrong story. Wipe the slate clean. And rewrite it. No fairy tales. Be your own narrator. And go for a happy ending. One foot in front of the other. You will make it.”

I've got some good books that I am reading right now!!! I can't wait to share some of my June novels with you. Come find me on GoodReads. Also, come join our book club! I just finished "Why Not Me?" by Mindy Kaling for that book club and it is hilarious. I am intrigued for what that discussion will be like! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

It's Gonna Be MAY.

Hi. It's been awhile.
I don't know about you, but I seriously cannot get over that meme. You know, the one with Justin Timberlake in his lovely 90s white boy afro pretending to sing the N'SYNC song? No? You don't know what I'm talking about? Someone hasn't been on social media in awhile then. Or perhaps you are saying no because you think it's stupid and it's posted every year and it's not funny either way. In that case, we can't be friends. Just kidding. Kind of.

I'm writing this on June 8. More than a week after because I have not had an amazing few weeks, you could say. School got out on May 27th. I had teacher meetings all last week. I found myself with a cold and sore throat during the meetings. I didn't think too much of it. I usually get sick on Memorial Day Weekend because it's right after school gets out and my body, in a way, shuts down. Nevertheless, the sickness continued to get worse. On Friday, I had plans to drive out to California to visit Tanner. I thought my cold had gotten better, so I hopped in the car with my brother in law, and while on the drive there, I got a fever, nauseated and all sorts of fun. I spent those few short moments in California visiting Tanner---mostly coughing and sleeping the entire time. We headed back a day and a half later. I needed to get to a doctor and my illness was getting worse. I was on a twin bed in an apartment with a bunch of other dudes and their girlfriends/wives. It wasn't that fun. Even though I only saw T Money for a few minutes, it was totally worth it. He has been gone for six weeks. Three more weeks, people. We can do this! (I don't know how you military wives do it!). Turns out I have a sinus infection (fun). I tell you this story to let you know that I am on drugs and antibiotics right now.... you have been warned.

May I don't want to sound like a spoiled brat or anything, but May is just kind of a hard month for me. I think it's because it is a stressful month with end of the school year, Tanner was gone for the entire month, and it's a transition into summer.

Don't get me wrong, I kept myself busy (which is probably why I haven't been blogging....). If you follow me on Snapchat (@sierrasview), Instagram, and Twitter, than you will know what's up. Here is our video of May fun!!!

Untitled from Sierra Charlesworth on Vimeo.

Highlights from May: 
-Hiking! Lots of hiking. Hiking up American Fork Canyon, Stewart Falls, and other local trails. We went up to the farm in Oakley and went hiking around there (you will see in the video). It was absolutely beautiful.  The weather was perfect Spring weather and the mountains were all so green and beautiful.
-Hanging out with Saylor (#saylorthepup) A LOT. T Money has been gone for six weeks (three more weeks!!!) so I spend a lot of time with my dog and at my inlays. I bet my in laws are sick of me. I am lonely so I show up...a lot. I have been so out of it that I accidentally left my dog at my in laws TWICE. It's fine, guys.
-swimming, reunited with old friends, riding horses, and living the dream. It was a busy month that was spent with a lot of animals. Ha.
-Had my THIRD hit and run since having, Piper, my car. $500 repair. I'm debating if it's worth it. So annoying.

And, just because I am obsessed with animals, here is a video of many nights of playing with the kittens that Luna and Boo had. I just compiled them because there were far too many. Ha.