Sierra's View: December 2016

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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