27 December 2015

Christmas Snow

We certainly had a white Christmas. Our snow level must have risen a foot since December 24.
Claudia, who is in France, requested that Tessie and I send her some photos of the snow around the house to show the little girls of the family she is staying with.

What I took on the camera...

...while she took this on the phone.

the street to campus

the street to downtown

house across the street

Tessie looking majestic

The sunset was almost worth the cold.

the abandoned house across the street

a message we sent Claudia


 We have been relaxing and enjoying our Christmas presents. I also have a few more photos from Christmas day.
We got the 10th anniversary edition of Ticket to Ride.

Each train is different!

I've been having fun with the coloring book Claudia sent.

26 December 2015


We are celebrating Christmas to the fullest here in the Braga-Henebry house! Merry Christmas to all!

A few days before Christmas we went to see the new Star Wars.

Mirror selfie in the choir room

After Christmas Eve Mass--the singers.

At home the sisters took a series of selfies...

Christmas Day, playing Ticket to Ride. The mustard yellow scarf was a gift.

Patrick jumped in for one of our selfie sessions.

21 December 2015

Christmas Choir Concert

I meant to post about this before, but alas, things were too busy until now. So here I am.
Our Christmas concert went well. We got to sing in mixed position (voice parts are scattered instead of in blocks), which was awesome. Here is the video of the entire concert. Tessie's choir begins singing at 10:15 and mine begins at 28:00. Whoever put the video together cut off the first quarter of our first song, but maybe I can find a complete version of it somewhere. Also in the end of our last song the sound cuts out.

Our songs:
Deck the Hall (arr. John Rutter)
Bogoroditse Devo (Ave Maria) by Sergei Rachmaninoff
See Dat Babe (arr. Stacey Gibbs)
w/ Mixed Choir: God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen (I forget who arranged it)

It was a good end to the semester!

10 December 2015

Crime & Punishment

Today our Russian Lit class will finish discussing Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to--it was fascinating, intense, unpredictable, and so different from anything I had read. The story focuses a lot on the inward state of the characters, because that is the real driver of the plot, but that's not to say it doesn't have its share of action.
I loved how much it emphasized the fact that no one is either all good or all bad; rather, all the characters lay in varying levels of the gray area. Even the most virtuous characters have their moments of questionable decisions and moral ambiguity. Despite this, it's easy to tell which characters are bad news. Dostoevsky's characters are incredible nuanced. Each of the icky characters is icky in his own unique way, and the reality of their ickiness makes you cringe.
The entire host of characters is varied, human, and rigorously alive. Dostoevsky manages to dig deep into each character's soul, sometimes bypassing such trivial things as physical description, and brings the character's true motives into the light in very few words.
And then we come to the plot. The story is heavily introspective. Every plot point that occurs has something to do with the mental, emotional, or spiritual state of those involved. Moments of discovery, redemption, or tribulation are shown mainly through the thoughts of the characters. I expected to get tired of this, but I didn't. Nowadays everyone tells writers to "show, don't tell," but look at what Dostoevsky has crafted by putting action secondary to character development. It is one of those few stories in which the plot is driven by the character development, rather than driving the character development.
Dostoevsky doesn't gloss over things. His descriptions are blunt, straightforward, and sometimes brutal. He makes you feel what the character is feeling, often down to physical sensations. The mood of each scene is revealed in the way it makes the reader feel, as much as in the way it makes the characters feel.
I didn't really like the epilogue, but that's personal preference. I wanted to read more!
If you're looking for a book that challenges your intellect through the lens of vivacious characters, an impelling plot, and wonderful writing, read Crime and Punishment.
(Oh, and if it sounds a bit somber for you, I promise there are funny parts!)

07 December 2015

Birthday Party

On Saturday we had a birthday party for the twins. First we saw Maren dance in the Nutcracker--it was a really good production and she did an amazing job! I don't have any pictures of that, sadly. Afterwards we went to Nicole's house for cake and ice cream, and the twins opened their presents. Here's what I gave them:

Tessie made the backgrounds, and I picked out the verses, did the lettering, and chose the frames. It was a fun and relatively fast project, and I'm happy with how they turned out. 
For Susannah...

...and for Cecilia.
We had a sleepover and watched a movie. After the movie everyone else had a mini-dance party, but I stayed wrapped up in my blanket and watched. I was half asleep. Anyway, it was a bunch of fun, and a fairly relaxing weekend.

03 December 2015

A thought while reading history...

"All men...have certain inherent rights, of which...they cannot by any compact deprive or divest their posterity. [These rights are] the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety." Virginia Bill of Rights, signed on July 12, 1776 (italics mine)
The Virginia Bill of Rights was the first of its kind in the newly-independent United States. According to archives.gov, "It was widely copied by the other colonies and became the basis of the Bill of Rights." The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution.
Our constitution looks pro-life to me.