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Archive for November, 2010

At last NYC and I are finally coming to terms. I’m becoming more adventurous and the city feels less forboding to me. I never venture to the city unless I feel properly attired and have a plan. Someday I’ll be more spontaneous, but for now, we are slowly creating a peacable relationship. I suppose it wouldn’t be like this if I dove headlong and had a whirlwind tourist adventure for a couple of days. Then I wouldn’t have time to feel intimidated. But I keep having time to reflect after my short trips. But it is getting better.

So, if anyone knows me well, they would know that I’m kind of an Egypt fanatic. Well, Egypt’s past fascinates me. The present Egypt depresses me a great deal. I’ve always been fascinated with King Tut and the miraculous discovery of his tomb by Howard Carter. Though, who isn’t fascinated by that story and the treasures of the tomb?

So when I heard that a special exhibit about King Tut was coming to the Discovery Times Square Building, I had to get tickets. My husband convinced me to get a babysitter for the two youngest, which was the most brilliant idea EVER.

As usual, I prepped my kids with documentaries, books, and discussions. I devoured a few interesting books along with articles on the subject in preparation for our big trip.

It was an unusual experience taking just the three older boys to the city. They were totally silent in the back of the car as they read books and listened to the radio. Driving through the city was a breeze without cries and complaints coming from the rear quarter of the car. We found our parking garage and the exhibit easily and prepared for an interesting afternoon.

(As I’ve learned, it totally pays to do your homework and buy tickets online. I bought prepaid parking, which was a good deal and saved us time trying to find a place to park. And we avoided all sorts of lines and waiting. And our tickets were discounted. SCORE!)

We had some time to kill before our visit to the exhibit. The kids saw a Toys R Us store and asked if we could go in. We said sure, expecting that it would be a run of the mill toy store. But I’ve started to learn that when something is in NYC, it will not be ordinary. Toys R Us in Times Square has 3 levels, a full-sized ferris wheel, a candy shop, ice cream shop, and all kinds of toy displays. Not to mention all the Black Friday shoppers. It was rather crazy, but since the boys were so good, we wandered around a bit. It was fun.

We didn’t stay long since we wanted to get some money and something to eat. We found an ATM, got some pizza, and then went to the exhibit.

The King Tut exhibit displayed 130 funerary items. All the items were connected in some way to either relatives of King Tut or from King Tut himself. I liked the way the exhibit was arranged and appreciated the way the exhibit tried to put King Tut in context with his ancestors and with the people of Egypt.

After walking through the exhibit, I have such a greater understanding of how extraordinary the Egyptian empire was. Pictures do not do the items justice. You can’t appreciate how delicate and exquisite the craftsmanship was for so many of the items. The jewelry that King Tut was adorned with was gorgeous. The boxes, chairs, alabaster vases, cosmetic tools were lovely and beautifully crafted.

One cannot look at the multitude of hieroglyphs decorating a coffin without beginning to appreciate the complexity of their written language. Nor can one dismiss the Egyptian culture are simple or barbaric. The complex religious structures and complicated death rituals suggest a highly advanced civilization. It was simply fascinating.

As we moved around, the boys and I chatted about the objects and their signficance. There were several instances where other parents stopped to listen to our discussions and tell their kids to listen as well. We even had people ask us questions. I guess we looked like we understood what we were seeing. At point, a man stopped us and asked us about Shabti. My oldest son, who is 11, rattled off a very accurate statement about the purpose of Shabti. Shabti were tiny statues placed in the tomb with the King. The Shabti were to serve as servants to the King, doing all the work he required.

My oldest son recently read The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. The Red Pyramid is the first in Riordan’s new series about Egyptian mythology. As always, he is very accurate in his information, but weaves it so well into the narrative of the story, the kids don’t even realize they are learning. I realized this when we were looking at some prominent hieroglyphs and my son said, “That’s an Ankh sign. It means life.” He then pointed out other signs and explained their meanings. And he was totally right! Thanks Rick!

My boys liked the chariot and the mummy replica. The most interesting items in the collection to me were the coffinette that held the mummified organ of the king, the tiny coffin of one of the infants found in the tomb, and the chariot. After death, the king’s organs were removed. Then the heart, liver, lungs and intestines were mummified and placed in individual conffinettes with the King’s image. The coffinettes were then placed in a small square shrine. Two tiny mummified infants were buried in the tomb with King Tut. It is believed that they were his daughters, both born stillborn. Looking at the tiny coffin made the King feel more real and personal to me. He was a real person and faced real tragedy in his young life. And finally, the chariot was huge and more intimidating than I had ever imagined. There were four complete chariots found within the tomb. Recent evidence found from CT scans of the king’s mummified body suggest that he suffered a very serious injury to his leg which became infected and he died from the infection. It is possible that he fell from his chariot while out in the desert on a ride and seriously injured his leg.

As I’ve done more research on King Tut, I’ve gained a lot of respect for Dr. Hawass, the head Egyptologist for the Cairo Museum. He has initiated some very advanced research about King Tut. Because of Dr. Hawass, scientists have conducted extensive DNA testing of King Tut and his relatives. This DNA evidence has helped us better understand the family relationships of the pharoah. Dr. Hawass also conducted CT scans in a revolutionary technique to get a better understanding of King Tut’s cause of death. He is an excellent writer and has published extensively. For the layman, his articles for the National Geographic have been riveting.  A recent documentary showed the CT scan of King Tut from start to finish, detailing all the challenges and extraordinary findings.

Okay, I think I have put all the masses to sleep. I’m such a nerd, but I love this stuff!

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Can you believe that in a few short days, the Christmas season will begin? I can’t. But I am so excited for it. The last few years or so, I’ve been only half-heartedly celebrating Christmas. My decorations were sparse. I was tired and felt too exhausted by all the rituals that felt imposed by others.

But I’ve had a change of heart this year. I was remembering how magical my mother made Christmas for me. Christmas is the only holiday she really went all out for. Every year, she visits craft fairs and picks up fun Christmas decorations. She spreads her treasures throughout the house.

She puts the old stockings up by the fireplace. The ones she made in Relief Society out of felt. Mine still says “Tiffy” from when I was very tiny. She still has the small porcelain nativity set that my sisters and I would fight over who got to arrange it.

She has a magnificent Nativity that would never survive in my house, but looks lovely in her kid-free home.

And the music. . . Wow! Music would fill the air constantly. Karen Carpenter, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, along with the carols my sisters and I pounded out on the piano. We would gather around the piano and play and sing until we were hoarse and our fingers were stiff.

She always turned on the tree lights in the morning and evening. We would wake up in the morning, gather around the tree at 6 a.m. and read our scriptures. And each night, some activity would happen around the Christmas tree.

So this year, I’m going to visit a craft fair and pick up some cute Santa ornament. My kids are going to string popcorn, make paper chains, and other decorations. And I’m going to fill the house with Christmas music.

I’m also going to start singing different carols nightly. Tonight we are going to learn Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

So tell me, how do you celebrate Christmas?

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Book Club

I hosted Book Group today. Book Group consists of friends, mostly church friends, who meet informally once  a month to read and discuss books. We’ve read a wide variety of books. We have people with all kinds of taste, so I’ve been exposed to books I wouldn’t necessarily pick up myself.

If I was to leave the Book Group, having only been exposed to Wallace Stegner, I would count myself as supremely lucky. But there have been so many great authors and my reading repetoire has really expanded.

We read No Graves As Yet by Anne Perry. I’ve been wanting to read this book with the group for over a year. I was a bit worried though that people wouldn’t like or appreciate it as much as I did. I’ve been thinking, analyzing, and pondering themes for so long, that perhaps I might subscribe meanings to the story that don’t really exist.

But everyone liked it. We had such a great discussion about grief, conspiracy, war, families, murder, etc. I probably talked too much, and heaven knows more facts were recited to them than anyone probably wanted to know. But still, it was so interesting.

For readers who are interested: No Graves As Yet by Anne Perry is a novel set in the summer of 1914, just before World War I. The story has a several mysteries, with an over-arching conspiracy. It is the first book of a five-novel series, covering the duration of World War I. It is a beautiful series, despite dealing with such difficult things as death and war.

Anne Perry is not your average mystery author. She writes mysteries in such a different way than any other author I’ve read.

Enjoy. I promise you won’t regret it.

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I’ve lost my blogging mojo

My posts have become less frequent. I don’t really find myself with much to say. Anyone else experiencing blogging ennui?

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Funny blog post

This has probably already made the rounds, but it seriously made my day.

Enjoy

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/09/party.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Hyperbole-and-a-half+%28Hyperbole-And-A-Half%29

Would some smart person be willing to send me a tutorial, preferably written on a word document explaining, step by step how to link using a nifty word? I’m seriously challenged, so it has to be very specific. If you have pity on my pathetic self, I will love you forever.

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