31 March 2014

My Birthday

Yesterday was my fifteenth birthday! It was an amazing day. We had beautiful weather, and Tessie and I went for a walk/photo shoot. Here are the results (we went crazy with the editing in some):
We had some fun with reflections, as it was very puddly.

Next, we went to a park.

These were inside a pavilion thing. It was flooded with melting snow!

On the sidewalk I stopped and took some of Tessie.

A random tree

And a random fence

This was a cute dog we passed! It was pointing at another dog someone was walking.
We had so much fun! It was really fantastic.

29 March 2014

Word Study! (Don't worry, it'll be fun!)

Now, let's look at a word.


adjective, hap·pi·er, hap·pi·est.
1. delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.
2. characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind.
3. favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky: a happy, fruitful land.
4. apt or felicitous, as actions, utterances, or ideas.
5. obsessed by or quick to use the item indicated (usually used in combination): a trigger-happy gangster. 
(Source: Dictionary.com)

Now, let's think about other ways of saying "happy."


Delighted gives you the impression that someone is surprised by good news. [She was delighted when she heard he was throwing a party.]

Pleased gives you the impression that someone is mildly happy, more than content but less than delighted. [Yes, I'm very pleased she could come.]

Glad gives you the impression that someone is relieved about something. [I'm so glad it all worked out.]

Joyous is used more often for an occasion or event than a person. [It was a joyous day and all the birds were singing to the pervading sunshine.]

Merry is a more lighthearted kind of happy. [He was predisposed to be merry.]

Elated gives the impression of complete and utter happiness. [I was elated when I heard you were going to be married]

Thrilled gives you the impression of a more intense, moving happiness. [She looked thrilled when you said she could come along.]

Happiness comes in all shapes and sizes, so you can stay happy no matter what the occasion!

26 March 2014


     I am known by all my friends and relations for being very shy. My mom once asked me is shyness is a choice or if it's something that can be overcome. Well, it's certainly not a choice. I don't know why some people are shy and some aren't. It's in their nature, I guess.
     It seems like lots of people assume that if you're shy, you don't like people, or at least don't like strangers. All I have to say to this is, um.....no. There is a distinct difference between not liking strangers and not liking to talk to strangers.
     You're in a room full of strangers and none of them are talking to you. What do you do? Well, an extrovert would probably introduce himself, start a conversation, and get on with life. A shy person would more likely open a book and try to shut out the noise.
     A random person sits by you and starts talking to you. What do you do then? A shy person would answer questions put to him, maybe offer a little personal information gratis (if the stranger is lucky), and go back to his own thoughts.
     The thing about being shy is that, for me, I have a subconscious assumption that random people don't really care what I think. Someone can come up to me and ask me questions, but I don't automatically think, hey, this person wants to be my friend. I think, this person is being polite. I wouldn't want to burden a complete stranger with all sorts of facts about me for which the person couldn't possibly have a care. People have their own problems to deal with. Being shy is, to me, more of a "why go out of my way to talk to people who probably won't care" than a "strangers are scary" disposition.
     Shyness is probably rooted in pride. You don't see the benefit of making a new friend. You don't think it's worth your time to make a change in your social circle.
     Then again, shyness could be rooted in humility. You don't see why someone would want to bother getting to know you. You wonder whether anyone actually wants to hear what you have to say.
     Sometimes, people seem to act as if being an introvert is some kind of personality disorder and should be fixed. But that's definitely not true. It's as simple as this: extroverts refuel, or gain energy, by being with people, talking to people, interacting with people. Introverts refuel or gain energy by being alone, taking a walk, reading a book. It's very hard for someone on one side of the spectrum to see how people at the opposite side can do it. I, for one, can't imagine not being drained of energy after a day with my friends. But that doesn't change the fact that I love being with them.
     I enjoy being an introvert. I can't imagine not being one. But it's good that I have plenty of family members and friends who are extroverts. It helps me see the world their way.
     It's a whole different universe, on the other side of the social spectrum.
     Interesting, nonetheless.


24 March 2014

Update on life--and mostly books.

    As I look outside, let's just say I'm not overly exuberant. It snowed this morning--again. Now it's cloudy and windy. March is such an unpredictable month. At least by Easter it will really be spring. Hopefully.
     My sister is here on spring break from college right now. (Much later than everyone else's spring break.) It gives us still-at-home-ies an excuse to do less schoolwork, so that's always fun! What's not so fun is that I have an aggravating cold, which means my brain is foggy. Which wouldn't be so bad, were it not for the fact that I have two essays to write this week. I've done a lot of sleeping and less writing than I should.
     Well, now for something a little more interesting!
     My mom and I watched the 1996 version of Jane Eyre last night. She was reading it for her book club, and after reading a book it's our tradition to watch at least one of the movie versions out there. I believe we have previously watched every Jane Eyre version in existence. (There are like 17, right? It seems so.) I have never read the actual book. I sometimes joined Mom while she was listening to it for book club, but she listened to much of it without me. I did read the Usborne abridged version, though. And, up to date, it's the first and only book that has made me literally cry. I think I was having a bad day. Anyway, such a grand feat (grand for my standards) automatically raises a book in my esteem. So I shall read the real version eventually, once I finish all this school. Maybe this summer.
     I'm looking out the window again, and it's cloudier than before. How marvelous. Good thing March is only one month! April is usually far springier.
     A bientot! 

21 March 2014

Happy Birthday, Katie!

      Yesterday was, in addition to being the first day of spring, my friend Katie's birthday! I remember when I met her...it was at ballet class when I was six. Since then we've been really crazy together all the time! I remember one year I practically lived at her house. Anyway, tons of love to you, Katie! Congrats on making it through your sixteenth year of life!

     A bunch of people in our friend group came to the restaurant she was eating with her family at yesterday and surprised her. The look on her face was purely Katie! It was super fun, and we had a big sleepover at her house afterward. 
...And that would be why I'm so exhausted right now.  I hope I was at least intelligible!

18 March 2014

An Essay I Wrote

This is an essay I wrote for literature class, when we were discussing the books we read from the Bible. Enjoy!
(I got an A, that's why I'm posting it.)

To Love Without Fear

     In 1 John 4:18, John states, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” What he means by this is that we cannot love perfectly if we have any fear. He does not mean to say that “fear of the Lord” is wrong or imperfect, though, because the meanings assigned to the word “fear” in these two contexts are different.
     When John writes, “there is no fear in love,” he is referring to the kind of fear that leads us to sin, for instance, a student lying about a grade he got on a test so his parents would not get angry at him. This kind of fear, which is natural and instinctive to mankind, hinders us from loving perfectly because it springs from selfishness. Perfect love has no self-centered thoughts whatsoever, and therefore cannot have selfish fear. It is easy to misinterpret selfish fear as the more virtuous kind of fear referred to in “fear of the Lord,” because it is frequently the fear of what someone else will do to one, and fearing someone else's actions can seem to make one more focused on others. In reality, the fear of what someone else will do to us is selfish, because we are thinking of our own discomfort as something to be feared.
     The fear referred to in the phrase “fear of the Lord” is a more virtuous fear. This kind of fear is not the state of being literally afraid of God, but of recognizing His omnipotence and being afraid of offending Him through sin. This fear branches into two types, which can be called perfect contrition and imperfect contrition. Imperfect contrition is fearing or disliking to offend God because of His just punishments. Imperfect contrition is similar to selfish fear, but with God in mind, and is therefore better. Perfect contrition is fearing or disliking to offend God because of pure love for Him and hate of anything displeasing to Him.
The very fear referred to in John's letter is a combination of the first and second, in that it is fear of punishment, from God or neighbor, for selfish reasons. Saint Therese of Lisieux illustrates the “love without fear” concept in a more concrete way than John does:
      "Consider a small child who has vexed his mother by a display of bad temper or disobedience. If the child hides in a corner through fear of punishment, he feels that his mother will not forgive him. But if instead, he extends his little arms towards her and with a smile cries out: ‘Love, kiss me, mamma, I will not do it again,’ will not his mother press the little one to her heart with tenderness, and forget what the child has done?” Perfect contrition is, in a way, John's “love without fear.” A repentant soul cries out to God for forgiveness, thinking not of the possible punishment for wrongdoing but of the offense it has given God, the very essence of Love.
     To emphasize the goodness of perfect contrition,Virginia A. Kenny, in her novel Convent Boarding School, describes a sin as “Love shuddering,” (141) with Love understood as being God. A perfectly contrite soul wishes to keep Love from “shuddering” because of the mere action of shuddering, and not out of any fear of what the shudder might turn into. This is love without fear.
In light of all this, one way to rephrase John's words “perfect love casts out fear” would be: “Perfect love (or contrition) is estranged from selfish fear,” or, “Fear cannot remain where perfect love exists.” Keeping in mind God's infinite mercy, a soul has no grounds to fear if it is truly repentant.

17 March 2014

Another Writing Update...And Some Words About Music

     Yesterday I was doing some research for my book, how exciting! I was writing a scene in which my hero had a fencing lesson (which he hates, by the way), and, knowing nothing about fencing, I had to look up a few things. I also made a new character. He's delightful! And! My characters are having a dance for Mardi Gras! (Which is currently in nine days for them.) They are very excited. But I can't decide what color gown to put my heroine in for it. She'll have to decide soon.
     Meanwhile, my heroine is making secret plans of her own with the head jailer, and learning more and more about who really runs the country. The weather has been iffy for the characters... you know early spring. It was just getting green when they had more snow! Very sad.

     Here is a song I recently discovered. The words are by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the music by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Gorgeous! I'm thinking about learning it, since it's in my voice book. And here's another song I love. It's quite old. Music by John Dowland, words by Anonymous. (Anonymous is a very good poet, I've found.) It's rather hard to sing, and very hard to play, because the time signature changes about every three measures. But I like to practice the accompaniment separately and then sing it, which helps.

     ...And now, back to writing for me!

14 March 2014

The Rosary

     Today I finished a book for which the fittest word would be lovely. It is called The Rosary by Florence Louisa Barclay. It is set in England in the early 1900s/late 1800s, and the central characters are part of a fairly high class of society, or "set," as they call it.
     The main character is The Honourable Jane Champion, niece of the Duchess of Meldrum. At the beginning of the book she is 30 years old. Jane is known for being very kind, frank and amiable. She has piles of friends, and is well loved in her circle.
     The book is called The Rosary for a reason you would not expect. ...And that's all I shall say, because I think you should read it and find out yourself.
     I actually read this book because my mom had gotten it for me on Kindle, at the recommendation of my aunt. I was delighted with it! I read it in three days. It's an easy and quick read, but by no means light in content. It is full of emotional growth, healing, pain, and ecstasy. There is wonderful character development and plenty of unexpected plot twists! I shall have to tell my friends about it. Thanks, Nina!

11 March 2014

Science Class

     Well, here we are, at March 11. It actually rained this morning. After 4+ months of snow and almost unprecedented cold, it's hard to even believe that it was warm enough for rain to fall.
    Anyway, that wasn't what I planned on posting about.
     I want to talk about my science class.
     I talk about my writing class and my French class, and I think I've mentioned my literature class, but never science. I take Physical Science online from Kolbe Academy, and it has been wonderful. (I'm taking physical science, which is usually an eighth-grade class, because last year I took high-school Biology at a homeschool co-op.) Class is twice a week and there are something like 10 students, which means the talkative ones know each other pretty well. I feel like my online-class-comrades have really become my friends.
     Our teacher is great, and she takes care to explain things thoroughly and makes sure we learn the material. We have also made friends with the two "tech people," as I call them--the people who help the students when they have technical difficulties so the teacher can keep teaching.
     We go into the online "classroom" early so we can chat before class. We talk about zillions of things--books, careers, foreign languages, near-death experiences, fictional people we wished were real.......etc. etc. On special occasions we use webcams so we can see each other, and we sometimes have open mic so we can talk instead of typing. I actually think I talk to my science-class-friends more often than my real-life-friends... due to the recent increase of distance, of course.
     Yep, that's the scoop. More than you ever wanted to know about my science class. Let's hope and pray the warm-ish weather continues and increases! (At least, warm weather on my birthday would be fabulous.)

09 March 2014


     I take voice lessons. I don't remember if I've mentioned it before. My sister and I started voice last November (as in, 16 months ago). Our teacher is one of the sweetest people I know. Back when we lived near Sioux Falls, Tessie and I used to have a lesson every week. But now, due to our change in location (and recent prolonged illness) we haven't had a lesson in around two months. But we practice often, because it's fun.
     I have always loved singing. At five, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'm pretty sure singer was at the top of the list, after ballerina and artist, of course. The thing that really got me interested in taking voice lessons was a book I read by Elfrida Vipont called The Lark in the Morn. In it, the main character finds herself through her voice and eventually becomes a singer. But more on that another time. The point is, the book mentioned several well-known songs by important composers, most of which I had never heard of before, not being familiar with opera or classical vocal pieces. I wanted to find out more, so I went on YouTube and looked up the songs mentioned in the book. They were beautiful, especially a certain piece of Lieder, An Die Musik, by Schubert. 
     I got an opportunity for voice lessons when my sister Tessie, who saw piano lessons more as torture than anything else, expressed an interest in singing. My mom, who wanted Tessie to do something with music, looked into it, and with the help of my piano teacher she signed us both up for lessons.
     I have learned more in voice than I thought possible to learn about singing. The first book of vocal pieces I got was called 26 Italian Song and Arias. A very promising name. I got to sing songs from operas, in Italian! Since my beginning some of my favorite songs I've done are Amarilli, Mia Bella (my very first, by Caccini), If Music Be The Food Of Love (first version, by Purcell), Ombra Mai Fu (from Serse by Handel), O Del Mio Amato Ben (an intensely sad piece by Donaudy), and Plaisir d'Amour (by Martini). Obviously, these aren't all from the same book. And also, these are not the only songs I've done. There are several I didn't mention, including the one I'm currently working on for recital, Se i Miei Sospiri by Fetis. 
     There is one unexpected downside to taking voice lessons. You become very judgmental. Tessie and I are now quite sensitive to pitch, tone quality and breath control, which makes us insufferable critics of our own and others' singing. It's something we need to work on. 
     If you're interested, click here to see my mom's post about our last voice recital on May 5.  

06 March 2014

Climax and Resolution

     Today in writing class (which, sadly, was the last of the year for me) we talked about climaxes and resolutions.
     The climax of the story is when the reader can't put the book down. The final battle. The crucial clue. The climax is (typically) the first time the protagonist acts completely without hesitation. No more being unsure of yourself--this is it! The climax is the do-or-die scene. The protagonist finally changes his/her behavior and starts getting with the program. He uses the lessons he's learned throughout them book to overcome his foe once and for all. Now, she understands what it takes to achieve her goals. And, most importantly, she is absolutely down-in-the-dumps. The climax happens at the point of utmost tragedy, angst, whatever you want to call it. The climax is when the protagonist must "take a horrible risk or die." Remember the plants I wrote about? Those are blooming now. The flowers are tying everything together. Self-sacrifice usually appears in the mix somewhere, too. The antagonist has become the ultimate foe. It's the surrender-or-conquer moment, and, unless the writer decides to be very cruel, the protagonist conquers.
     Resolutions are...iffy, to say the least. It's rare that I read a book that has a really great resolution. That's because they're hard to write. The resolution is the *sigh of relief* moment.You pick up all the strings that you scattered all over the place and tie them together in a (hopefully beautiful) bow. You answer EVERY question you put out there in the course of the plot. You make sure the reader understands the aftermath of the climax, and preferably show the protagonist living happily ever after.
     It's going to be hard, but I'll try to write a fantastic resolution. Wish me luck.

05 March 2014

Writing Update

     This week in writing class we worked on "planting." A "plant" is the writer-language word for when a story has foreshadowing. You plant the idea, it keeps growing in obscurity, and then suddenly at the climax it's a flower! Seemingly small things (the seeds) become very important later (the flowers).
     Also, my story is coming along very well. I finally broke 20,000 words! It's hard to find time to write when you have all this "important" school to do, like math, science, history, Latin...the list goes on. But lately I've been writing more, and I'm really happy with how my plot is going! My little sister gives me some really good ideas for plot twists and complex scenes. Thanks, Tessie!
This is my Writing Plant, which happens to be making me look out at the fresh snow despairingly...
     I think I just made the final draft of my plot sketch, but we'll see. Things tend to change a lot. When I'm done I'll have some major revising to do! But that's okay, I'll just ask my friends to read it and see if they find any inconsistencies I'd missed. It's weird how when you're working on something for long enough you become blind to what it's like on the whole and only see the particular detail you're currently working on. Like when you keep practicing one part of a song and then forget to play the rest and it fades out of the "polished" zone right under your nose. You only realize it once you try to play the whole thing.
Here's a Lent illumination!
     Oh, and, it's Ash Wednesday! I'm looking forward to meatless Fridays (though we kind of do that all year in my family). I'm doing no sugar this Lent, so I made some eggs for my dad and me this morning and put pepperjack cheese on top. It was yummy! Anyway, happy Lent! (Joyeux Careme, as the French would say. I think...)

03 March 2014


Pretending is juvenile, right?

It's what little girls do when they play house. 
It's what little boys do when they play superheros. 

Of course, but it's also what actors do when they portray characters, and make us laugh or cry or rage. 
It's what artists do when they paint fantastical scenes.
It's often what songwriters do when they write love songs.
And, it's always what authors do when they write stories.

In my opinion, pretending isn't foolish. Actually, I've gotten my best ideas for stories from pretending. It also helps me stay focused. If I need to get something done, I can pretend that if I don't finish it before a certain time, a terrible misfortune will fall upon one of my family members! Okay, my pretending isn't usually that dramatic. But you get it.

When I'm trying to figure out a scene, instead of thinking it in my head, I act it out. When I'm pretending to be the character I'm writing about, it helps me to know what he/she would say, think, or do in a certain situation. Plus, it's really fun! I've acted out plenty of scenes that I didn't end up writing down for one reason or another. If I come up with a really good speech, I write it down in my binder to incorporate later.

Hm...am I the only one for whom pretending is helpful? Maybe I'm the only writer to ever consider doing something so unusual. Unique! I like it.

I think maybe the people across the street get very confused when they see a silhouette making dramatic gestures at 11 pm...

02 March 2014

Oui, j'aime le francais!

     I am in my second year of French class. I take it online from Rolling Acres School. We all know each other well and have tons of fun together. This past semester, we worked together and made a 30-minute-long radio broadcast in French. We got to meet outside of class time, and shared lots of laughs.
     Next year, for French 3, we are reading books in French. Some girls and I are considering reading Les Miserables, which would definitely take plenty of time. But we may not be able to muster up the courage...it's a lot of French to read. I'll have to work on vocab. Maybe I can have my fluent-in-French sister help me! Got any book ideas, Claud?
     Now, my dear Reader will probably want proof that I actually know some French. Here's something I wrote for homework (it hasn't been corrected yet so sorry if there are any grammar mistakes) (also, that week we were practicing subjunctive so that's why there's so much of it):

      Ma mère, Ana Braga-Henebry, dit qu'elle avait née en Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Elle dit à  moi qu'elle a quatre frères et cinq soeurs. Ses parents sont Claudio et Lucia. Elle dit qu'elle etait allée à un ecole Catholique des filles. 
     Quand j'ai la demandée quel sa famille a fait pendant leur libre temps, elle a dit qu'ils avaient montés  leur canot à moteur. Pendant l'été, la famille etait allée à la maison de sa grand-mère dans les montagnes, elle dit. 
     Quand j'ai la demandée, Ana a dit que sa famille etait eu une cuisiniere, un jardinier, un chauffeur, et une domestique. Elle dit qu'elle et set frères et soeurs avaient un choeur, ensiegne par un proffessionel directeur. Leurs amies ont les appelés "les Vont Trapps brasiliens." 

01 March 2014

Just Some (Random) Things...

Well, it's been a few days! 
Hm.... it's March 1!
That's exciting!
Because you know what happens in March!
First of all, March is the month in which it starts to get minutely warmer.
Second of all, March is when Lent starts, which means Easter is soon.
And third of all, March is the month of my birthday.
And also, after March it's April. 
And after April it's May. 
And after May it's June.
You get the point. 

In other news, I went to see The Tenors live at the PAC here last night. 
That was cool!
My mom is leaving for Brazil tomorrow. 
She's staying there two weeks! 
(She gets the warm weather.)
And I have an essay to write on The Confessions of Saint Augustine. 
Topics, anyone? 
And also,
I have a French midterm exam very soon. 
Maybe I should study.
And also,
I have a piano competition coming up. 
Motivation to practice is greatly lacking.
And also,
I have no idea why I decided to format this post strangely. 
I just thought I'd change things up, I guess. 

It's good to be happy.
Have fun today.
What could possibly happen, when we have God on our side?
Have a nice day!