Friday, May 31, 2013

TransAtlantic - Book Review

Expertly weaving together the stories of Frederick Douglas's travels to Ireland to spread the abolitionist movement in 1845; Jack Alcock and Teddy Brown's first transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1919 and Senator George Mitchell's assignment in Ireland in 1995 to help broker peace, Colum McCann delivers a brilliant masterpiece in TransAtlantic.

This is a novel about human connections. Four generations of women have their own histories woven with those of Douglas, Brown and Mitchell as they migrate back and forth across the sea from Ireland to America and back again. It is the history of lands of hunger, poverty, violence, peace and hope. It is rich with detail but careful not to detract from the characters and their stories. There are a multitude of overlapping themes as in any vibrant tapestry. If college students studying contemporary literature aren't reading and discussing TransAtlantic by next year, I will be shocked.

McCann is an absolutely genius writer who has created a living, breathing novel both entertaining and profound.

Look for TransAtlantic by Colum McCann and published by Random House to hit book store shelves next week.

** I received a complimentary copy of TransAtlantic in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation was received. **

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lilly's Friend

Whenever I didn't make it to the school in time to walk home with Lilly after kindergarten, her chivalrous friend would walk her home. It was out of his way but he would make sure she got safely home before turning back toward his own house. We just thought he was so cute and of course, it's nice to know that someone is raising an honorable young man.

Last Day of School

School is out for the summer! 
We had a fabulous school year. The kids loved their teachers.
They learned a lot. 
It's been so much fun to watch Lilly learn to read in kindergarten 
and Thomas improve his reading skills in 1st grade.
Amberly enjoyed everything about 4th grade.
We are really looking forward to all our fun plans this summer.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Winner of the wAIRhouse Give-away

The winner of the pair of jump passes to the wAIRhouse Trampoline Park in Salt Lake City is...

Blogger vivian said...
this would be so fun to go to with jensen!

Congratulations! Please contact me right away with your information. Hope you have a great time!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book Storage

My house is rather small.
Approximately 1,800 square feet.
We have over 2,200 books in our house.
Do you want to see where we keep the books?

Last summer my parents built these book shelves/cupboards for us in our front room. This is where we keep our "pretty" books. They are mostly religious, historical or classics. And most of them belong to Utah Dad.

Only months after moving into our home nearly 7 years ago, my dad helped us build the bookshelves/desk I designed in our upstairs loft. It currently needs some repairs but has served us well. This is where I keep my books that I've already read. It's also where I work on the computer, so I spend a lot of time right here.

On the bottom shelf we keep a lot of the books for the kids. I've collected many of these at used book sales at libraries. There is a second layer of books behind the first on these deep shelves.

These are the shelves we have in the boys' bedroom. They are filled with adolescent fiction, picture books and Neal's science books. The small shelf has all the board books. The boxes on the bottom shelf are also filled with board books, I can't bring myself to part with.

The girls have this shelf in their room that is rapidly filling with Amberly's novels. They also have a shelf in their closet that has lots of picture books and board books that belong to the younger girls but their closet is messy and I didn't take a picture.

Along one wall in our master bedroom we added these cheap Walmart shelves and quickly filled them to overflowing. Besides the encyclopedia (why do we still have it?) and the years of National Geographic magazines, this is where I collect the books I still plan to read.

This smaller bookshelf is also in our bedroom near my side of the bed. It is filled with the books that my friend recently gave me before she moved out of the country. I plan to read them--eventually.

Someday we will have a house with a library and all the books can be in one room. This is my dream. Until then, we'll keep figuring out spaces for the books I just can't help collecting.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The wAIRhouse Trampoline Park - Out and About in Utah & Give-away!

The kids and I had the chance to go to the wAIRhouse Trampoline Park in Salt Lake City the other day. The kids were so excited--as in, couldn't stop smiling excited to go. We signed the waiver online and were ready to go.

Thomas and Lilly started out in the KIDS COURT. I had decided not to take Molly, thinking that it would be too much for her, but she would have been fine. The kid zone is for youngsters and has smaller trampolines. Thomas and Lilly bounced and bounced. (Please excuse all the blurry pictures--they were always moving!)

Neal and Amberly rushed to the MAIN COURT. The trampolines are large and you can really catch some air.

Next the kids all tried the FOAM PIT. My kids aren't very acrobatic but I enjoyed watching others do tricks as they jumped off the trampolines and into the foam. My kids just thought it was fun.

Neal played some basketball in the SLAM DUNK COURT. How cool is that?

My favorite was definitely the DODGE BALL COURT. The wAIRhouse has two dodge ball courts. The kids and I had a competitive round of dodge ball (after I used the restroom). I could so imagine playing this with my siblings and their spouses.

Jumping on trampolines poses certain health risks, but as a mother I thought the wAIRhouse Trampoline Park was quite safe. There is a quick safety video to watch before you jump and there are multiple "guards" in orange shirts that monitor the play and correct dangerous actions. We had so much fun and got some serious exercise during our house session at the wAIRhouse.

The wAIRhouse Trampoline Park has private rooms for parties. It can be reserved for large groups including corporate functions (you would be the coolest boss). They also offer aerobics classes for the full body workout. It is definitely an awesome place to check out. I think we'll plan to go back on one of those too-hot-to-be-outside days this summer or for their Family Night special.

The wAIRhouse is giving away 
a pair of jump passes to one lucky reader. 

To enter leave a comment on this post. You can earn up to 2 extra entries by sharing this contest on social media. Just leave an additional comment. The contest will be open to entries until Friday, May 24th at 11:59 pm MST. The winner will be chosen randomly from the comments and announced on Saturday, May 25th (barring any computer issues).

Palisades Park - Book Review

Palisades Park was an amusement park in New Jersey that brought joy and entertainments to thousands of park goers each summer during most of the twentieth century. Lifting public morale during the Great Depression and World War II and becoming the "hip" place to be during the fifties and sixties, Palisades Park has a fascinating history.

Author of Moloka'i and Honolulu, Alan Brennert's newest novel Palisades Park is a moving tribute to the park and the people that worked the concessions, the rides and the famous salt water pool. Toni and her family have been tied to Palisades Park since her parents met there while working concession stands in 1930. Toni grows up at the park and dreams of following in the footsteps of the women high divers she loves to watch perform in the shows. The novel intricately intertwines Toni and her family's story with the history and people of Palisades Park.

Most often reading like a narrative history, Brennert includes many fascinating details of the park's history in Palisades Park. He is at his best when writing about the park--the scene where the park burns after a ride starts on fire is dramatic and emotional. However, the main fictional characters in the book are treated with kid gloves. We never get too close to them. In spite of the fact that the characters often make major decisions, I didn't feel a connection to their emotional state of mind. It's hard to describe but there seemed to be a barrier between the characters and the reader, as if Brennert was scared of getting too close to them and shifting focus from the park. He would create a scene that should have/could have climaxed into an emotional catharsis but Brennert would back off and move on quickly to some historical detail about the park.

I found it dull in the beginning and had a really difficult time sticking with the novel. It does improve as Toni gets older and pursues her dreams of becoming a high diver. The history of Palisades Park is really interesting and filled with nostalgia and memories. If anything, the park is the main character of Brennert's novel and it does come alive within its pages.

** I received a complimentary copy of Palisades Park in exchange for my honest review. I received no additional compensation. **

Monday, May 20, 2013


Do you love to write? Have dreams of being a novelist, poet, short story blogger, or playwright? BYU’s new one-week writing camps will give you the chance to do just that! Spend a fun-filled week of your summer with other young writers exploring and developing your own creative writing abilities. Who knows whom you’ll meet and what you’ll write?

Your story starts here, at BYU Writing Camps!

Heber Valley Railroad - Out and About in Utah (and a winner too!)

Utah Dad and I got to go on the special Chocolate Train Date Night at Heber Valley Railroad last Friday evening. We were excited for the adventure and the chance to spend some quality time together. There's just something about riding a train. It's thrilling and romantic just thinking about it.

The evening train departed the station in Heber City right on time at 7:00 and headed west toward Soldier Hollow. It was a beautiful evening with clouds that threatened rain. The view was stunning--green farm fields, snow topped mountains, Deer Creek Reservoir and billowing storm clouds. We saw lots of birds and some deer. My favorite was the flock of sandhill cranes we saw in a farmer's field.

A couple of violinists played for us during the ride. The were cute and friendly and had an impressive repertoire for being sophomores at the local high school.

Utah Dad and I really enjoyed the soothing ride, the beautiful view and some good conversation.

The train ride lasts almost exactly two hours. While the chocolate wasn't noteworthy, the staff was friendly and we really did enjoy our evening aboard the Heber Valley Railroad.

And finally . . .  the winner of the four pack of tickets to Day Out With Thomas at the Heber Valley Railroad is ...

Blogger Mom of 12 said...
My little Curly would love this so much!

Thanks for being patient. My computer was having internet issues over the weekend. Congratulations to Mom of 12. Please contact me as soon as possible with your information so you can redeem your prize.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Night Circus - Book Review

I've been wanting to read The Night Circus by Erin Morgentern since I read all the fabulous reviews after it's release. I finally found an excuse when it was picked as one of this year's reads for our neighborhood book club. Several of my friends read it before I did and whenever I asked what they thought they would respond with comments like "The imagery is amazing." I wondered if it would be one of those books full of amazing imagery and lacking on plot and characterization.

I was a bit bored by the book I was reading earlier this week (going back to it now and I'm hoping it gets better) so I picked up The Night Circus instead. I was almost immediately entranced by the images created by words and a magical, enchanting world and I realized why my friends chose to describe it as they had. However, I was thrilled to also be intrigued by the mysterious plot and the unique and quirky characters. Admittedly, there are many characters and it was often difficult at the beginning to make sense of the various characters and time periods in the different chapters. I was relieved to know that many of the characters didn't even know what was going on.

Two rival magicians pit their students against each other in an elaborate duel of strength and skills. Their venue is the newly imagined Night Circus that enchants audiences around the world when it suddenly appears outside of town and opens its gates and wonders when the sun sets. The challenge between the two will entangle the entire circus and become even more dangerous when they fall in love with each other.

I have a soft spot for the purely creative--the book that tells a story no one else has told in a way that no one else would even think to tell it. The Night Circus by Erin Moregenstern is as imaginative and delightful as the one where patrons enter black and white tents filled with wishing trees, mazes through the clouds and a world made of ice.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Day Out With Thomas Train Give-away


Thomas the Tank Engine visiting Heber City May 24-27

HEBER CITY, Utah (May 9, 2013)— Heber Valley Railroad is hosting the Day Out with Thomas: Go Go Thomas Tour 2013 this Memorial Day weekend, May 24-27. The approximately 25-minute train ride
with Thomas the Tank Engine will depart every 45 minutes, rain or shine, with varying departure times
each day.

Day Out with Thomas is a fun-filled and exciting way for children and adults to enter the world
of Thomas & Friends. Children will ride along with their favorite engine friend on his latest adventure
and have their picture taken with Sir Topham Hatt, the controller of Thomas’ railway. In addition, there
will be a Thomas & Friends Imagination Station where children can build with Mega Bloks and
participate in other Thomas-themed activities.

Day Out with Thomas in Heber City has become a popular Memorial Day weekend event over the years.
Day Out with Thomas 2013 activities include:

• A 25-minute (approximate) ride with Thomas the Tank Engine
• Games and activities
• The opportunity to meet Sir Topham Hatt, Controller of the Railway
• A Thomas & Friends Imagination Station, featuring stamps, temporary tattoos and hands-on arts &
crafts activities
• Commemorative activities, merchandise and giveaways
• Magic show, ballon twisters and face painting

Tickets for the Day Out with Thomas: Go Go Thomas Tour 2013 are $18 plus tax (service charges may
apply) for all passengers ages two and up. Tickets are available now by calling toll-free 800-888-TIXX
(8499) or logging onto
For more information and directions, contact the Heber Valley Railroad at 435-654-5601 or

For readers of Utah Mom's Life Blog, Heber Valley Railroad is also giving away 
at the Heber Valley Railroad.

To enter to win please leave a comment on this post. You can earn extra entries by sharing this contest on Facebook, Twitter or other social media. Leave an additional comment for each time you share (3 entries max). The contest will be open to entries until Friday, May 17th at 11:59 pm MST. The winner will be chosen randomly from the comments and announced on Saturday, May 18th.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Winner of the Flowers from Draper FlowerPro Give-away

The winner of the beautiful hanging flower baskets from Draper FlowerPros is :

Jessica P said...
Liked them on Facebook - thanks for the chance! 

Congratulations. Please contact me right away so that you can receive your flowers.