Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Bold List

Here is a list of different things people have done in their lives. Everything I've done on this list will be bold.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower ( the middle of Lake Powell)
6.Given more than you can afford to charity (This one is weird to me...I'm still alive, so anything I've given obviously wasn't more than I could afford.)
7.Been to Disneyland
8.Climbed a mountain
9.Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris (2005)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14.Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (NO FUN!)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (2005)
20.Slept on an overnight train
21.Had a pillow fight
22.Hitch hiked
23.Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24.Built a snow fort
25.Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (grandparents count?)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (not well, but I learned some...)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (I don't need much)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung Karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (at least as far as they would let us go...)
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (in Hawaii...AMAZING!)
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (Do my family's childhood endeavors at cinema count?)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class (Does being my brothers' practice dummy count?)
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (What do you consider "speeding"? I thought 30 miles per hour was pretty fast.)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (in high school)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (Audra McDonald)
92. Joined a book club (I currently run one!)
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

It's fun to see all of the things I've done in life on this list. Mostly, I think it's fun to get ideas of other things I want to do. ITALY: here I come!

And I now tag: Ann, Robyn, Jeff, Sarah, and Melissa.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Traditions!

One of my favorite things about Christmas is all of the traditions that we do each year. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. We have virtually every meal leading up to Christmas planned. Christmas eve morning we have crepes with strawberries and whipped cream. For lunch, we have tamales (this is a recent addition to the list of traditions). For dinner we have corn/clam chowders and cold-cut sandwiches. For breakfast on Christmas day we have cinnamon rolls and oranges. We usually snack on left-overs for lunch and have a fancy dinner of some kind. I love food!

2. We make a gingerbread house almost every year. Except, it's rare that we actually make a house. A few of our creations include a barn, log cabin, Tahitian village, church, castle, mansion, fishing cottage, town square, and various others. This year we have plans for a pirate ship; we'll see if it comes to fruition.

3. Each Christmas eve night we sing carols around the piano, act out the nativity story, and open one present (often it's pajamas).

4. On Christmas morning we take turns opening presents one at a time, partly to extend the fun, but mostly to enjoy the looks on people's faces as they open each present.

5. We watch LOTS of Christmas movies: A Muppet Christmas Carol, White Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street (the new one), Borrowed Hearts, While You Were Sleeping, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, etc.

What are your favorite traditions?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

God Bless Us, Every One!

Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas, and everything that comes along with it. I love being at home with my family, sitting in front of the fire, and reading Christmas stories. I love watching Christmas movies, making gingerbread creations, shopping for presents, and eating good food. I love the cool, crisp air and the smell of pine mixed with oranges. I love the kindness that people seem to cultivate in themselves and then pass on to others in greater measure than usual. It is the season of giving.

Most of all, I love the opportunity this time of year gives us to reflect on the life of the Savior of the world, even Jesus Christ. What an amazing thing it is that over 2000 years ago, in a tiny village, unknown to the vast majority of the populace, a baby was born that shook the very fabric of eternity. He was to be the king of kings, and lord of lords. As Isaiah prophesied...

"unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his named shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

Most people during His lifetime did not acknowledge His true identity as the literal son of God; rather He was mocked and ridiculed. And yet, it is "with His stripes, we are healed." The Savior has perfect love for each of us, and He has dedicated his existence to bringing to pass "the immortality and eternal life of man." What a gift He has given.

May we always remember (as Tiny Tim of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" said) who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see. Each of us has our own maladies, and each of us has a Savior who has conquered them. If we rely on him, he will make us whole again, and we will be able to achieve more than we ever dreamed.

I hope that I might not let the feelings of the Christmas season fade as the coming year wears on. May we all be more like Ebeneezer Scrooge (post-apparitions):

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more... it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"You May Just Start a Chain Reaction"

Today, our school hosted an assembly called "Rachel's Challenge." It was, hands down, the most powerful presentation I have ever seen on bullying, school violence, and the power of compassion to make a difference.

Rachel Scott, the inspiration for the presentation, was the first student shot and killed in the Columbine High School shooting of April 20, 1999. Shortly after her death, her family found an essay she had written with her personal code of ethics. This, in addition to several journals that she wrote, outlines her belief in kindness to everyone. It sounds simple, but it was a powerful experience for me and for my students.

Here is her essay. If you can't read it, go here to see a larger version.
Ultimately, the assembly left each student with five challenges. I pass them on to you now, and I hope that they remind you of the difference that can be made by small kindnesses:

1) Eliminate prejudice by looking for the best in others.
2) Dare to dream -- set goals and keep a journal
3) Choose positive influences
4) Use kind words and do small acts of kindness
5) Start a CHAIN REACTION with friends and family members

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Let us all be THANKFUL!!!

"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die, so let us all be thankful."


I love this quote. I shared it with my students on Wednesday and asked them what they thought it meant and how it related to their own lives. Here's what they came up with...

1) We should be grateful for what we have, because you never know when it could be gone.

2) There is always something good in a situation, no matter how bad it seems.

3) No matter how bad something is, it can always be worse, so be glad it's not worse.

We also talked about the idea of looking for the "at least" in every situation. So here is my "at least" list to make me feel better about the things that frustrate me sometimes.

1) I have to grade papers on my vacation least I have a stable job that is not endangered by the current economic situation.

2) I didn't get to be home for least I have wonderful friends here in Utah to keep me company.

3) It's least it's been warmer this year than usual.

4) My room is a least I have money to buy the things that are currently cluttering it.

5) I don't have enough time to do everything I want to least I have enough time for the really important things.

May we all constantly look for the "at least" in every situation. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Just one more is never enough...

It's like the Pringles commercial: once you pop, the fun don't stop.

Here's another quote. Thanks goes to Ann for this one.

"Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day, saying... "I will try again tomorrow." ~Mary Anne Radmacher

Thursday, November 13, 2008

One More Quote

I can't resist adding one more quote to my previous blog. In fact, I like this one so much that I'm going to give a little explanation for it, too.

The quote below comes from the book The Last Lecture. I heard about this book a few months ago and bought it for my best friend for her birthday. Being the classic book-aholic that I am, I had to read it before I mailed it to her (Sorry, Steph, I know that's bad manners. I can't help it. The book was calling to me). I read it in one day, during which time I cried before I even finished the first page, laughed out loud several times, and set some new goals to enjoy my life more. It is a phenomenal memoir that inspires me to be bold and believe that I CAN do whatever I set my mind to accomplish.

One statement in the book hit me particularly hard, and it has been rattling around in my head ever since. Here it is ...

"Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people."

~Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Sunday, November 9, 2008

No Man is Wise Enough by Himself

I love learning...and this statement by Plautus encapsulates why. I love picking up a book and seeing the world from someone else's point of view, experiencing someone else's strengths and weaknesses, and gaining wisdom from another's experience that is far removed from my own.

Maybe that is why I have always collected quotes...I am awestruck by the ability of certain individuals to capture so much truth in such a small amount of space. These kinds of thought inspire change for the better. Here are some of my favorites:

"Everything turns out alright in the end, so if it's not alright, it's not the end." (Unknown)

"We cannot do great things on this earth. We can only do little things with great love." (Mother Teresa)

"Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him." (Aldous Huxley)

"We should not complain about our own life's not being a rose garden when we remember who wore the crown of thorns." (Neal A. Maxwell)

"A life is a single letter in the alphabet. It can be meaningless, or it can be part of a great meaning." (Jewish Theological Seminary)

"We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us." (Marcel Proust)

"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." (Carl Jung)

"The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse." (Don Juan)

"Don't be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps." (David Lloyd George)

"May the outward and inward man be at one." (Socrates)

"Sacrifice means going without or giving up something which is good for something which is better." (N. Eldon Tanner)

"The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it." (Richard L. Evans)

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal." (Henry Ford)

"Always remember there are two types of people in this world: those who come into a room and say, 'well, here I am!' and those who come in and say, 'Ah, there you are!'" (Frederick L. Collins)

"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it." (Unknown)

"One's life cannot be both faith-filled and stress free." (Neal A. Maxwell)

"The best way out is always through." (Robert Frost)

"What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly." (Carl Rogers)

"If you think you can do a thing, or you think you can't do a thing; you're right." (Henry Ford)

"Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

"God has no need for our worship. It is we who need to show our gratitude for what we have received." (Thomas Aquinas)

And, a great one to end on...

"Writing, the art of communicating thoughts to the mind through the eye us the great invention of the world...enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and space." (Abraham Lincoln)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Who could ask for anything more?

Decorative AND edible...the perfect pair!

Just had to share...this amazingly edible bouquet showed up at work on Monday. Incredible! Not to mention that the strawberries were as good as the ones in California. Hmmm... somebody knows me well. :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Come what may, and love it!

This is the view from my window right now. So, I'm snuggled under my covers, looking at the book that is calling my name from my desk next to me, wearing a warm sweater, and I say...come on with the rain!

Even though I am am addicted to sunshine, I still LOVE rain! There is something relaxing about the sound of rain falling outside. Everything seems quieter and simpler. The world seems to move a little slower, and it makes me want to slow down as well. The rain rejuvenates me. It cleanses the world and brings a newness of life that is encouraging. It is simply...pure.

I remember running outside in the rain as a child, singing and waving my umbrella like Gene Kelly. While I'm not planning on puddle-stomping today, the lyrics to his song encapsulate how I feel about the rain.

I'm singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feelin'
I'm happy again
I'm laughing at clouds
So dark up above
The sun's in my heart
And I'm ready for love
Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I've a smile on my face
I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Just singin',
Singin' in the rain.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Let Us Run With Patience the Race that is Set Before Us...

I am list maker. I make lists of groceries to buy, things I need to do, places I'd like to go someday, people I need to catch up with, assignments I need to grade, and (apparently) things I make lists about. :) I put them on sticky notes, post them where I will see them, and get to busy accomplishing all the many things I want and/or need to do in life.

The bad news: I can do anything that I want to in life, I just can't do everything I want to.

The good news: I am never bored.

The bad news: I stress myself out with all of the things that I try to get done.

The good news: I still have a long time to accomplish most of the things on my many lists, and I am learning how to rely on other people to help me accomplish things, not to mention that the company is nice along the way!

In honor of the struggle to overcome getting overwhelmed by the tasks of life, here is a link to a great sports article in the Deseret News that addresses the topic through the metaphor of running a marathon. May we all remember to enjoy the journey a little bit more and "run with patience the race" of life each day!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

You can take the girl out of California, but you can't take California out of the girl!

Sometimes, you just need to get back to your roots. This weekend, for me, that meant heading home to California--at least in my imagination. Here's how it turned out...

Yes, that is a 30 foot long pin up mural of a beach on the wall of my dining room! The rest of my California adventure was complete with a dinner of steak sandwiches, sourdough bread, orange juice with little umbrellas in the glasses, potatoes and salad. I decorated with sea shells, colorful paper lanterns, beach blankets, and stars on the ceiling to gaze at while lying on the "beach".

It was quite the adventure to plan, and I had SOOOO much fun! There were a few moments when I could almost hear waves crashing on the cliffs and smell the fresh sea air.

I love California! Even after seven years in Utah (which I have loved), I still consider California home. It has so much personality. Here are a few of the things I miss about the Golden State:

STRAWBERRY SEASON - There's nothing better than eating juicy perfection fresh out of the fields, still warm from the sunshine.

FARMERS' MARKETS - Not only did I love the fresh nectarines, white peaches, plums, etc. that we got from the market, I love the ambiance there as well. It was fun to wander down the streets of Old Town Clovis during the summer months listening to folksy music and meeting people from the community as you shopped for tasty food.

GRAPE PICKING - Every August is grape picking season in the valley. While the smell of the winery was nauseating, I loved going to the welfare farm run by the church and picking grapes. It was dusty, sticky, spidery, tiring work, but it was so satisfying to work down a row side by side with other ward members, knowing that you were doing your share to help out. Plus, the Slurpees from 7Eleven afterwards weren't too bad either.

NO SNOW - Try as I do to enjoy it, I still don't like the winters in Utah. I love being able to go outside year-round in California without worrying about losing appendages to the cold. Brrrr. I'm trying not to think about winter yet.

DIVERSITY - I love how different everyone is in California. Not to say that there isn't a fair amount of diversity in Utah, but it's completely different. I loved going to school with people of all different religions, races, and backgrounds. It was fun to talk to people with such different life experiences than mine. I need to look for it a little more here in Utah.

SUNSHINE - I am addicted to sunshine, and it seems to abound in California. That's all there is to it!

What do you love about California?


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood

Every fall, I look at the leaves changing colors and I remember one of my favorite poems: The Road Not Taken. It's not really about fall--just about life. But the opening line always makes me think of fall. This last weekend, I went for a drive in the canyon and once again was reminded of Robert Frost's poem when I saw this picturesque landscape...

Isn't it perfect? It makes me much more willing to deal with the chilly weather when I can see such beauty. It's about time to break out the woolly sweaters and hot cider for the coming winter, I think. Not to mention, time to stock up on some good literature to read by the fire (anybody have a fireplace I can borrow?). To start off the literary marathon induced by cold weather, here is Frost's poem for your enjoyment.

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

P.S. - Here are some other fall pictures of my trip up the canyon.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How to pursue a career as a pedestrian

One of my favorite parts of being a teacher is reading my students' writing after they have worked really hard on a project. Partly, this is because I like to see them succeed in writing. Partly, it is because I like to see if what I taught them actually transferred into their brains and pencils. But, mostly, it is because I LOVE to see the crazy typos and mistakes they make. In my last batch of essays (where each student wrote a magazine article about another student in the class after interviewing him/her), the winner was the following:

"When Brooke grows up, she has the great goal to become a pedestrian, so she can travel to Africa and fight diseases."

Now, color me confused, but I'm not sure that a pedestrian could easily get from here to Africa, and once he or she got there, I'm not sure how being a pedestrian would cure any disease, as healthy as exercise may be. But regardless of whether it makes any sense, I got a good laugh out of this student's mistake of "pedestrian" for "pediatrician".

Can't you just picture the business cards now?

I would that we all were so creative in defining our lifetime goals!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rise and Shout the COUGARS are Out!

I didn't grow up a BYU fan, and I certainly don't spend much time keeping up on sports statistics (it's all I can do to know which sport is which), but I bleed BYU blue.

Today was the opening game of the football season, and I was lucky enough to get tickets. It's been a long time since I've been to a football game in that stadium, and it felt good to be back. There is something about the sound of the fight song echoing off the walls of the stadium, the sight of the team running onto the field with pride, and the smell of concession stand pizza and hot dogs (even if they are overpriced). I don't go for the football; I go for the camraderie, for the sunshine, and for the chance to be a part of a unified mass cheering a group of athletes on toward success. It's not about the sport for me.

I'll be honest, for years I never understood the allure of sports, especially one as violent as football. But, as I have come to appreciate BYU's program, I have realized that it's REALLY about much more than football. Sure, the game is entertaining, but there is a greater purpose. It's about the chance to be a part of a group working toward a common goal, learning leadership skills, developing talents, building friendships, sacrificing for the greater good, decision-making, determination, perseverance, and becoming the best person you can be.

So, I am a reformed sports fan. You will probably never hear me quoting any player's stats or a debating a school's strengths and weaknesses in their offensive line, but I can truly say now that I enjoy sports. Well, at least I enjoy BYU sports. And that's the only one that matters anyway, right?
(By the way, in case you didn't know, BYU beat Northern Iowa University 41 to 17. Go Cougs!)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Murphy's Law

So, you know that old saying that anything that can go wrong will? Well, that was definitely true of my trip to Lake Powell. Between losing half the group for 8 hours somewhere in a 200 mile long lake, attempting to drive back to the boat on Sea Doos during a storm, running out of gas on the lake, two car accidents (with one totalled car), one water-logged cell phone, an alarming carbon monoxide detector incident, and various other crazy occurrences, the fates seemed determined to complicate our lives.

The amazing thing, though, is how so many little miracles occurred so that everyone managed to get home safe and sound. Plus, now I have a ton of great memories of adventures I never would have dreamed.

Between potential disasters, my week was filled with...
Model poses at the world's largest natural arch...

Dance parties in a cave...

Boat driving lessons...

Imitations of figureheads of old sailing ships...

Water skiing shows...

Watermelon basketball...

And so much more...

I'm in love with Lake Powell!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I'm Back!

Well, I'm back from all of my many adventures--two weeks of EFY and a week at Lake Powell. I'll do a post on Lake Powell soon, but this one is simply a quick tag from my sister's blog.

Here's how it works...come play!

1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you have of me.

2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. If you leave a memory about me, I’ll assume you’re playing the game and I’ll come to your blog and leave one about you. If you don’t want to play on your blog, or if you don’t have a blog, I’ll leave my memory of you in my comments.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bon Voyage!

Well friends, I'll be a taking a brief hiatus from blogging as I'll be spending 24-7 during the next few weeks working with teenage girls in the Especially For Youth program at BYU. Wish me luck! I have wanted to get involved in this spiritual camp for years, and I finally start tomorrow! I'm a little nervous, just because it's something new, but I am excited to get to work with teenagers in a way that is so different from my relationship with them at school.

To top it all off, I LOVE the theme for this year, which is "Steady and Sure." It comes from Mosiah 5:15--

"Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen."

There is so much to talk about in relation to that single verse: so many analogies to be drawn, so many scriptures to cross-reference, so many quotes from general authorities to examine. I have learned so much as I have prepared lessons over the last month. The scriptures truly are limitless and do open up new worlds of understanding when we delve into them. I'm sure in the next few weeks I'll learn even more than I ever thought possible about this topic, but for now I'll end this entry with a thought I've had in regards to the theme--

Jesus Christ is the rock of my salvation. Because of him, I can become exalted and receive blessings unimaginable to my mortal mind. When I rely on him, I am strong enough to weather any storm. I cannot succeed in this life on my own, but I can excel when I couple myself with Him. It has been said that humility is not a sign of weakness, rather it is evidence that we know where our true strength lies (True to the Faith). I know that God knows me individually and that he will never abandon me. He will hold me up when I have no more energy within me, and He will help me soar higher once my strength has been renewed. Of that I am sure. I will look to Him and live, sure and steadfast in His love.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Our Right and Our Duty

I know this is a little belated, but HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

With the anniversary of the the birth of this country, I have reflected a bit on the wonderful gift and responsibility it is to live in The United States of America. Amid all the festivities of playing with friends in Park City, my friends and I took a moment to read an excerpt from the document that started it all-- The Declaration of Independence. A phrase in that document impressed me that I had not paid much attention to before. Here's something to get you thinking. See if you notice what I did:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security."
- The Declaration of Independence

I had never noticed previous to this year the comment that "mankind are more
disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." So true, isn't it? We get so comfortable with what we're used to that we don't stand up for something that needs to be changed. It's like a little kid that refuses to let the splinter be pulled out of his hand because he is afraid of the pain it might cause, ignoring the relief that will come after and the increased pain that will come if the splinter is ignored.

It reminds me of another famous quote that says, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." I don't think that this only applies to politics. In this world of changing ideals and moral standards, it is so important to take a look at our own beliefs and decide what we are willing to fight for. Without that commitment to uphold truth, our world is in a lot of trouble. May we each live in a way that throws off the evils of the world and actively supports things which will promote truth, for that is our right and our duty.

That is my soapbox for today :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Running Away...Part Two--Hawaii

Me running away in my favorite way--reading a book

I am back from Hawaii and I have to say, my soul is mourning the loss of the ocean and tropical sunshine. I never understood the color aquamarine until I realized that water really IS that blue in Hawaii. I also never knew that you could do a handstand on a surfboard ("you" as in the amazing surfers we watched, not "you" as in me). Needless to say, there was a lot I didn't know until I learned to appreciate it in Hawaii.

It was great to run away for a couple of weeks again. Even better this time, I was with ALL of my family. You know you really love your family if you can get 15 people together, spend two weeks together, and NOT want to leave. If anything, this trip reminded me how much I really do love being around my family, and makes me want to have many more reunion vacations.

I'll spare you all the details of the trip (since most of you that read this were there!), but I'll share some pictures. I don't have very many because my family is full of really good photographers who took countless pictures...but I'm not one of them. Consequently, I have to wait until they send me the rest. I'll try to post more then. I will simply leave you with 5 words that brought much joy to my life during the last two weeks:




Shaved Ice (pretend like that's one word)

View from the house we stayed in on Sunset Beach, the best beach in the world!

Cliffs near Hanauma Bay

Ian's hippo mouth--a pretty close impersonation if you ask me

Flower in the botanical gardens of Waimea Valley

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sometimes Running Away is a Good Thing

Now, I realize that running away from your problems doesn't actually solve anything, but I submit that sometimes it can be a good thing to run away temporarily to rest up in preparation for dealing with problems, stress, and just life in general. A couple of weeks ago, I got just such an opportunity to run away to Island Park, Idaho with some great friends. It was exactly what I needed at the time. I believe it was truly providential that I was invited to go away for the weekend. It was such a blessing during a very frustrating week. 

Highlights of the weekend included the following:

Puppet shows with the taxidermy animals at the visitor's center.

Singing "Home on the Range" with arms around complete strangers at the Playmill theater prior to Oklahoma.

Hymn charades--and trying to guess hymns you've never heard of before.

Broadway sing-along for an hour on Sunday around the table.

Pillow fights with the boys at 1 o'clock in the morning (Sorry to Rachel's parents who were inevitably kept awake by our shenanigans).

Huddling in the corner because we thought the boys were going to attack us at 1:30 in the morning.

Realizing that the boys were not attacking, but they were presenting us with awards for the pillow fight at 1:32 in the morning.

Laughing about the whole immature, but oh-so-fun, situation until 2:00 in the morning.

So, long live vacations, silliness, good friends, and blessings of good memories.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dance in the Rain...

One of my favorite quotes recently has been,

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."

It seems to me that sometimes it's easy to look around and think about how hard or stressful life is. Really though, there is so much happiness to be found in every situation. This quote just makes me remember being a little girl, running out into a storm with an umbrella swinging, singing and puddle stomping. I think I should react to more things in life the way I did when I was seven.

While we're on the subject of good quotes, here are a few other good ones to think about:

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved." ~Helen Keller

"Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens." ~Jimi Hendrix

"Everything is okay in the end, if it's not ok, then it's not the end." ~Unknown

Monday, May 19, 2008

Itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny RED polka dot...

Here is my newest splurge (The picture shows it in coral, but I got red with white polka-dot). I'm so excited about it that I just had to share. Since I'm headed to Hawaii in a few weeks (which is hard to believe in and of itself), I decided I needed a new bathing suit. I fell in love with this one on LandsEnd. They are just about the only place that I have found modest bathing suits of high quality that don't have huge tucans across the front. If you're ever in need, they are a great company and worth the cost.

P.S. - I learned that you can buy their suits at Sears and if they don't have the one you want, they will order it online for you through the store. They don't charge shipping and the products are sent directly to your house. Okay, sorry, I'm done sounding like their poster child.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Countdown

Hooray for summer vacation! I only have 11 teaching days left before I bid a fond farewell to my students for this year. I'm not sure what they learned, but at least we all survived to try again next year.

Here are a few of my favorite things that I've learned this year from my students:

1) "Americans need to eat more VEGETARIANS."

2) Classrooms are a good place to practice skateboard moves, though necessarily without the skateboards.

3) Pencils lodged in the ceiling are more interesting than anything I could ever say.

4) All the frustrations of preparing for a student talent assembly pay off when you see them on stage and start to get teary-eyed as if they were your own children.

5) leap frog, doing the wave, and hula hooping are essential parts of a seventh grade education.

Those are just a few, and my brain feels too fuzzy to come up with more right now. I wonder what else they'll come up with before the year is over...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Chivalry is NOT dead!

This blog entry is dedicated to the men in my life who have proven that gentlemen still do exist in the world, even if sometimes they seem hard to find.

Let me explain.

For the last two months, the Elder's Quorum of my ward has been talking about "The Pineapple Activity"--a surprise activity that they had been planning for March 29. They were completely tight-lipped about the whole affair; so secret, in fact, that we girls were beginning to wonder if they actually had anything planned. The only thing they told us was, "Dress formally and don't be late!"

Unsure of what to expect from a bunch of 20-something-year-old guys, we curiously made our way to the church building at 6:30. Boy, were we surprised at what we found there! As we drove into the parking lot, we saw several guys standing on the curb. By the time we had parked, they were at our car, offering to escort us in to the building. They led us down a lighted pathway into the decorated cultural hall and seated us at beautifully set tables (complete with tablecloths that they ironed themselves). For the next hour and a half, we were waited on hand and foot--someone was always nearby offering us a refill of our glass, clearing a plate, or bringing one of the four courses of the meal! While we ate, they entertained us with songs, magic, juggling, ad even a barbershop quartet! Once dinner was completed and cleared away, each man asked a girl to dance and we spent the rest of the evening twirling around and being treated royally by the men of the group. I couldn't stop smiling (and neither could they)! To top it all off, the guys made each girl a small gift of this rose in a small seed pot. Yes, they MADE these themselves!

I could not believe how incredibly hard these guys worked to honor us for one night. They could ave done half as much and we would have been impressed. Instead, they blew us away with their efforts and chivalrous behavior. At the end of the night, a friend of mine commented, "I'm not sure if this was really a girls appreciation night, or if it was a night for the girls to realize how awesome these guys are so we appreciate them more." Too true.

Either way, it seemed to me that everyone involved had a good time at what the gentlemen aptly titled, "A Night to Remember."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Love/Hate Relationship

I have a dilemma. I love finishing books, and I hate finishing books. I love the relief of a long-awaited resolution, of knowing that the problems are all worked out and that life is back to normal. But, that's exactly what I hate, too, because life is never really "back to normal." In life each story leads to another, changing us as we experience new things. I hate saying goodbye to characters, not knowing where their story will take them next. I'm not content to have only one piece of the puzzle; I want to see the whole picture of a human life. Yet, I suppose that is one of th wonders of literature. An author invites you into someone's life for awhile, and you just get a glimpse. Then, you're free to explore and conceive the rest of the life yourself; you can create realities sparked from the imagination held within the pages of a book. What a wonderful opportunity!

In honor of reading, here are some favorites that I've read in the last year or so.

Monday, March 24, 2008


I am a self-declared drama nerd. I grew up singing "the hills are alive" and "if I were a rich man" while trying to imitate the screen actor's facial expressions and voices. I spent every summer I can remember in California painting marquees, stuffing programs, selling refreshments, and gluing moss onto set pieces for the local theater company. And I still make up songs when I'm by myself and dance in my kitchen when no one is watching (and sometimes when they are). Not to mention that the highlight of my week is "Showtunes Saturday Night" on the local radio station.

I have theater in my blood.

I think that part of the appeal comes from being able to escape to someone else's life for a short while--to understand a point of view outside my own. Part of the fun is that musical theater gives me so many more ways to express myself; when there are no words to adequately communicate the emotion or idea, I can dance or sing it out of myself. Mostly, though, I love theater for all of the memories I've created over the years that are tied to the stage.
So, today I'm going to take a walk down memory lane and share some of my favorite musicals. If you haven't yet seen them, keep your eyes open for performances and ENJOY!


10. Fiddler on the Roof (Maybe just because sometimes I think that I need a matchmaker...)
The King and I (beautiful and not your typical love story)
Beauty and the Beast (my current obsession, since I'm choreographing it)
My Fair Lady (even though Rex Harrison never sings, he brings such life to the character)
Anything Goes (a silly one, but I got to wear a platinum blond wig and loved being a ditz!)
Singin' in the Rain (Gene Kelly...enough said)
The Sound of Music (holds a special place in my heart as the first show I ever did)
Aida (the musical is WAY better than Verdi's opera)
Guys and Dolls (long time favorite--gotta love Adelaide's lament)
1. Les Miserables (I've seen it twice and cried both times when Eponine dies)

And... just for fun, here's
a funny new "musical" I found on You Tube.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

New Beginnings

So, here is my first attempt at a BLOG. I've always been slow to jump on the bandwagon for any trend, not the least of which is this new age of internet blogging. However, I like the idea of getting to stay in contact with family in a new way and explore my creative writing side. Still, don't expect me to give up my Sunday phone calls home any time soon. I hope that this blog can be a way to keep in touch more with people that I otherwise don't talk to on a daily basis.