Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Favorite Things About Eternity: A Trilogy. Part Two.

I'm finally writing part two of my Eternity Trilogy! (If you missed part one, here it is.) Today's post is about my lovely siblings, so if you don't have a lot of time on your hands you should probably just not read it right now. Because I have 8 siblings. And 3 sisters-in-law. And 2 nieces. And 1 nephew. And they're all really great. So this blog post could go on forever and ever. It might be the eternal blog post. In which case you'll never get to read it because I'll just be writing it forever. So if you're reading this right now, that means it's not an eternal blog post.

I really think I have the best family. No family is perfect, but my family is perfect for me. I fall right smack dab in the middle of the 9 children, the oldest girl after 4 boys in a row. I love looking back and seeing how my relationship with my family has changed during the process of my growing up. When I was living at home I never did much with my older brothers, except for Daxson the last year or so that he lived at home before he left for college and on a mission and things. It's almost like there are two different families--the four older boys and then my four younger siblings--and I just kind of float around in between the two. It's fun. 

Ever since I moved to Provo after my graduation from high school I've loved getting to know my older brothers. They used to be just my older brothers; I didn't really know them very well. Now they're my friends! I love doing things with them and eating dinner that they make for me and washing laundry for free at their houses. I am super lucky that we all live in the Provo area right now. It'll be sad when we start moving away.

Kyle Alan Hale is my oldest brother, and he's married to the lovely Jennifer Lucy. They live in Orem and I love going to visit them, although it doesn't happen nearly as often anymore as it should. Kyle is one of my songwriting heroes, right up there with Sara Bareilles and Billy Joel. I remember listening to songs he'd write when I was younger, and I was just amazed that he had such a gift and I always wished I could do that. Now that I actually do write my own songs, I love going to Kyle and Jennifer for songwriting tips, and also just to show them stuff I've come up with or things that I'm doing for my music classes. Jennifer is an important part of our family. I feel like the moment we transitioned from being a family to really loving our family and showing that love was when she came into our lives. I'm not saying it was all her, but she's such a bubbly, loving, fun person that you can't help but love her and then want to try and love other people the same way she loves you. Also, she makes really good food.

Jeremiah Thomas Hale is married to Danielle! They just had a beautiful baby girl, Liana Jade. Jerry's the only one of my brothers who ever beats up on me. I guess that makes me pretty lucky, having the possibility of five brothers to beat up on me; it's just unfortunate that Jerry's the strongest of them. But anyway, we'll leave the topic of abusiveness and talk about Jerry's better qualities. Like his wife, Danielle. Danielle has the most angelic voice. We're both music majors, so it's been fun running into her in the HFAC (the fine arts building on campus) the past couple of years, and being able to talk to her about things going on in my life. My niece Liana is a beauty to behold. Even though I've only beheld her once. (Correction: twice! I just went and saw her again tonight, halfway through writing this blog entry.) I just remembered more of Jerry's good qualities: He really loves sports, and I enjoy going to BYU basketball games with him or just watching other sports things on TV. He's also very smart and has things figured out. Also he has a weird/awesome sense of humor and I think he likes having me around because a lot of times I'm the only who'll laugh at his jokes.

Tobin Jack and Trista Nicole Hale have two of the cutest children ever, Kalan Jack (my favorite nephew I've ever had) and Harper Grace (one of the two favorite nieces I've ever had). Tobin and Trista live the closest to me of any of my siblings (except Victoria, who sleeps seven feet away from me every night), and I love being able to go over for dinner or to play games, or to play with Kalan. Trista makes the best chicken nuggets and pulled pork tacos in all of the land. I'm getting hungry just thinking about them. Trista also makes super cutesy, artsy things. Maybe someday I'll be able to be that awesome. Tobin is an amazing pianist. When I was taking piano lessons growing up he always inspired me to want to practice and get better. He can automatically do on the piano what the rest of us have to practice at for hours (and days and weeks) to be able to play. Kalan is awesome and I love it when he gets all hyper and wants to wrestle. I also love Kalan kisses. Harper can't do any of that yet, but she's good at being cute.

Daxson doesn't have any good pictures up on facebook. However, there is this here picture that he made. Because he's awesome. Isn't it wonderful? Daxson is really great. He recently made it into the film major at BYU (I forget what it's called...Media Arts?), and is going to do awesome things. He loves watching movies, and I like getting to watch movies with him. Children are strangely attracted to Daxson. It's weird. Kids just love him. Especially my nephew Kalan. I don't spend nearly enough time with Daxson. Last night I went to his apartment and watched "The Help" and then played Mario Kart and some dumb football game that I lost. Because the only sort of game I can play successfully is Mario Kart. (By successfully I mean that I don't lose every time.) Anyway, that was fun. Oh, speaking of this picture of Daxson's, he made it for a film project he recently finished. Check it out! Okay?

So, right here in the middle is where I belong. 
Moving on...

Victoria Skye is a babe. She is also my roommate. She is single and ready to mingle! She's also going to kill me after she sees that I wrote that. Victoria and I are two years and 3 days apart. Because of this we've always shared the very special bond that can only be gained by repeatedly receiving almost identical (but different-colored) birthday presents every year. She is a freshman at BYU this year, and it's nice having a roommate who is almost as messy as I am so that she can only get kind of mad when my half of the room is dirty instead of really mad. She's really smart and super duper kind to everyone around her. Even people who don't deserve kindness. Also, she's the reason I eat real meals every once in a while. She's a great cook, and she's less lazy than I am, and it's good to have her around. Oh, something else I like is that I can be completely crazy and super weird when I'm around Victoria, and I know that she'll be just as weird or stranger, so it's okay to just let myself get hyper. No judging. 

Why are my sisters so beautiful? Gretchen Ainsley Hale is just the nicest person. She is greatly desired by all the men, and for good reason. She's super smart, completely gorgeous, and she's quite witty. She knows right from wrong, and she makes decisions based on what she knows will make her happy. She's a great little writer. I actually kind of got the idea for this Eternity Trilogy from Gretchen's blog entry where she talks about our family. I think it was her 2nd blog post. Gretchen plays the flute and the piano. She has a fun sense of fashion and gets away with wearing the most unique things. But she always wears things. So that's good. Gretchen is a great older and younger sister. She inspires me to be better and to make good choices because I know she's looking up to me. Also I know that she wants to be looked up to by her younger siblings, and she's paving the way for them. Also if we had the same color of hair and eyes and skin we would look like twins.

Tansy doesn't have facebook yet, so there wasn't a plethora of photos to choose from for her. I found this in one of my albums, though. Tansy Rebecca is also my twin. And we even have the same color of hair and eyes. Except Tansy's hair is more blond. And her eyes are more grey. And she's much better-looking. And a little bit shorter and younger. But other than that, twins! Tansy is so smart and so ambitious. She loves music and she has the voice of a lovely song bird! I love talking to Tansy about boys. She's going to be a heartbreaker when she gets old enough to break hearts. She's in a musical right now (as is Mason), and I'm excited to get to go home and see it in a couple/few weeks. Tansy is very dramatic and likes attention, so I'm sure she will be great for the part she's playing. Also, Tansy's a really good friend to her little brother Mason. I remember when they were both tiny and they loved each other so much. Now they have to pretend like they don't love each other as much, but they're still great friends.

Mason Burke Hale is my favorite little brother. Seriously, he's the best little brother I've ever had, and probably ever will have. He's very perceptive and loves learning all sorts of things. Basically, he has a million brains. Mason really loves me, and I'm glad that he misses me when I'm not with him. When I first moved to college it took like my whole freshman year for him to realize that he missed me when I wasn't home. It feels good to be missed. It feels good to be greeted by someone running towards you yelling "Jiiiilliaaaaaaan!!" and then giving you a tackle hug when you pull up in the driveway late Friday night when you're visiting home for the weekend. I love calling Mason and talking on the phone and hearing how he's doing and what book(s) he's reading and what computer game I interrupted him from playing when I called him. I remember when he was little, Mason and I would have dinosaur fights. He was always a T-Rex and I was a Velociraptor. He knew all about all the different kinds of dinosaurs. Mason is learning how to be a good friend, and he does an excellent job of thinking of those around him. 

And these are some of the wonderful people who make eternity such a wonderful gift! Can you believe I get to be with them for EVER? How did I get to be so lucky? Today in church our Sacrament Meeting talks were all about marriage and eternal families and covenants. Classic singles' ward topics. I'm not married yet, but I do already have the start to a wonderful eternal family. Really, that's the thing that makes the idea of eternity so appealing...I don't ever have to leave the people I love! Right now I'm lucky because more than half of my family lives in the Utah Valley, and the other half is only 3 1/2 hours away in good ol' Oakley, Idaho! Someday in this life, though, we will all move away and be more separated by distance, and it's comforting to know that I will always love them and I will always be able to call them my family. What a blessing!

Not that Daxson will make it this far into this blog post (if he even gets through any of it), but I felt bad that I didn't have a real picture up of him. So here's a picture of Gretchen and Daxson (and Victoria's chin):

And noooow...stay tuned for my blog post next week (hopefully), which will be the part three of my trilogy! Aren't you just so excited to see what else is one of my favorite things about eternity?

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Favorite Things About Eternity: A Trilogy. Part One.

Today is my parents' thirtieth anniversary. They've been married for thirty whole years! So today is a good day to start my three-part blog entry on my very favorite things about eternity! 

My parents are the best parents I could have asked for. Maybe I did ask for them. They do, and have done, so much for me!

So, we'll start with Daddy...Alan K Hale.
I like this picture because my dad and I look so much alike, I think. My dad is a strong person. He's a hard worker. And he loves his family more than anything on this earth...more than money, more than work, more than toys. Even more than himself, I think. If he ever has to make a decision between saving himself a few extra bucks or making his children better off, he'll choose his children. Every time. Not only is he great for his family, but he takes his career seriously and everyone he works with looks up to him. It makes me happy to know that my dad gives his very best at work, too, and that others recognize his greatness. My dad gave me a love for hunting and camping and fishing. He raised me to love BYU football. He gave me his blond hair and blue eyes. I think that one of his greatest qualities is that he teaches by example. He lives the things that he teaches. He's always trying to be better. When I date guys I always compare them to my dad, and to the things I've seen my dad do and the ways he's grown and improved. Whoever I marry will have some big shoes to fill.

Now, on to Mommy. Lynette Burke Hale.
My mom is Supermom. She makes the best homemade bread. Actually, every food that she makes is delicious (except perhaps foods that aren't meant to be Cowboy Delight and tuna casserole. And meatloaf. know, all those gross foods). Somehow I think that talent or gift got passed on to me, 'cause I can't seem to make bad food lately. I should cook more. Anyway...back to Mom. She is the best listener I know. She's really good at saying the right things, even when people don't want to hear them. She somehow just knows what to say and is really good at communicating. She loves her children (and three grandchildren) so much! She is always so proud of her children, and unlike most parents, she has a right to think her children are the best, because they really are. My mom is a good example of someone who loves learning and improving. She's attending the community college right now, and getting better grades than I am at my college! She has always supported and encouraged her children to take music lessons and dance lessons and do sports and school clubs and everything they want to do. My mom encourages me to be my best and keep on gettin' better!

My parents are still very much in love. They respect each other. They know each other so well that they're basically pretty much the same person.
I can safely say that my parents are at least 1.8576% of the reason I'm so awesome. Okay, maybe a bit more than that. I'm grateful my parents are so strong and happy. And so darn good-lookin'! 
They are one of my favorite things about eternity...

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Pop! I love you.

(Stay tuned for next week's post about another of my siblings!)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Peace I Leave With You

I want to tell you about my Grandpa, Wayne Alma Burke. He's one of the strongest men I've known. When I think of him I just think of firmness, something solid and majestic as the mountains. Tall and quiet and firm. I remember him singing to me, I remember him teaching me to draw pine trees, I remember listening to him for hours as he'd tell some story or explain a concept in great detail. 
Grandpa Burke was an artist and a musician. He played every instrument, I think, but the three that come to mind are trombone, flute, and voice. As you'll see in the picture above, he played the mandolin! At least, I think that's what that is. He brought it to Family Camp one summer and played it for us, and afterwards he showed me how to play it. I don't remember how anymore, though. I remember him giving Victoria and Tobin trombone lessons, and teaching Gretchen things about the flute. He didn't play the oboe like me, but I remember us talking about it and the things he taught me in other areas of music flowed over into my oboe playing.

Grandpa helped enlarge my love for music, and I will always be grateful for that. I'm so blessed to have been given a natural talent that is so inspiring and alleviating and telling. I love that when I perform music, or even when I'm just listening to or practicing music, I can feel Grandpa with me. It's like he's a part of the music.

Click the black box to play song if the video doesn't pop up --^
This isn't a recording of him, but Grandpa Burke once sang this song at a funeral. Probably at other funerals, too, but I just remember one. I think it was my great-grandmother's, his mother's. This is a beautiful song by George Dyer called "In My Father's House Are Many Mansions." I bought it one year ago today when I was thinking of Grandpa. Every time I listen to this song I can hear my grandpa singing it, and whenever I'm going through a difficult time, the lyrics of this song come to me, in my grandfather's voice:

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you: 
Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid...

Four years ago today my Grandpa Burke died of cancer. The months of prayer and fasting and hoping leading up to that day were very hard. They also come to me now as serene memories, despite the sadness of losing a loved one. Those times were hard, but filled with peace. They unified my family. They made the love within my family be realized, and grow. It's a miracle that this could have happened, even if it wasn't the miracle we were hoping for.

I can't believe that four years have already passed without him. I love that I have things that remind me of Grandpa. I love that every time someone reads John 14:27 in church I can hear Grandpa's voice singing to me. I love that when I play music I can use techniques that he taught me so that he is a part of my music. I love going to an orchestra concert and feeling connected to my grandfather who loved music so much, as if he's never really too far away. Because, really, he's not. 

That's the legacy that Grandpa Burke left for me. A legacy of peace. A legacy of music. The legacy of the hope and love and comfort that come with that very peace and music that he left for me. I'm grateful today for the man that he was, and that he will always be a part of my life. Forever and ever.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Top 27 Ways to Offend Someone on Facebook

I often seem to say the wrong things on Facebook and even in texts. I think this is because there are a lot of people on Facebook that don't know me and my sense of humor very well. I'll be the first to admit, I am pretty weird. Also, it's hard to put feeling and sarcasm and love and tears into writing/text. Just know that people seem to think a lot more into things I say than I do. Sometimes I just say things. For fun. Or just for whatever. And if I ever seriously have a problem with someone, I don't post about it on Facebook. If I say something that sounds like I'm angry at someone, or trying to solve my problems by making a post rather than actually talking to the person in question, there's a 100% chance I'm just joking. I don't really get mad at people too often (at least not outwardly), except for maybe Victoria, but she's my sister AND my roommate (and, come to think of it, I'm usually not even really mad at her when we're being mad at each other.) That being said, I have compiled a list of things you can do (in jest or in all seriousness) if you're aiming to offend your Facebook friends:

  1. Say the word "fat" or "chubby" when referring to any human being, especially a female human being.
  2. Make a racist comment or joke. Those are fun.
  3. Call Justin Bieber a girl. (This is a serious sin.)
  4. State your opinion on someone's clearly-politically-debatable status update.
  5. Point out that someone is wrong on their own status update.
  6. Tell the family members of a Facebook friend that THEY are wrong on friend's status update.
  7. Get into an argument with a Facebook friend after they try defending their stupid family member(s) on their own status update.
  8. Belittle or make fun of a profession that is very likely the profession of some of your facebook friends' parent(s). 
  9. Post a Michael Bublé song on your brother's wall. Most especially Christmas songs. (I personally would like it if someone were to do this for me, but some people find it offensive. Weird, I know.)
  10. Post videos of family members/friends doing hilariously embarrassing dances to equally embarrassing songs.
  11. Be funnier in a comment on someone's status than the actual "funny" status was itself.
  12. Call someone a whore. (I personally have never tried this one, because it's as rude and unnecessary and derogatory in real life as it is in Facebook life, but I see a lot of drama about this one in some of my more dramatic and unintelligent Facebook friends.)
  13. Call your Facebook friends unintelligent.
  14. Start a discussion on modesty/guys blaming girls' dress for their dirty thoughts.
  15. Swear
  16. Denounce your religion and then dare your family/friends to hate you for the choices you've made and the life that you've decided to live.
  17. Tell a friend or family member that you love them despite their choices (because obviously they were trying to start an argument, not engender feelings of love).
  18. Post pictures of wedding cakes/engagement rings on single friends' walls. (Ha, just kidding, Mom.) 
  19. "Like" it when a friend changes from "in a relationship" to "single." (Unless it really was a good thing, and they're happy with it, I guess.)
  20. Comment on a friend's frequent changes in relationship statuses. ("Who is it this time?")
  21. Use inappropriate language/tell inappropriate jokes. (This usually only offends your mother.)
  22. Try to correct someone and end up sounding too much like their mother.
  23. Post pictures of random bleeding/mangled body parts. Gross.
  24. Make fun of something that someone holds truly dear. Like their hometown. Or home state. Or their state vegetable. 
  25. Get offended when people say something offensive in a post. And then tell them how offended you are, and why. In an offensive tone, of course.
  26. Unfriend someone. But not before posting a status update about how you're about to go and delete all of the people who aren't very important to you.
  27. Post before you think.
I was going to keep going, but realized I was already at 27. So maybe these aren't the TOP top ways of offend facebookly, but they are 27 ways. Feel free to add comments with more methods you have discovered to be effectively offensive.