Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Merry Christmas, everyone! It's less than a week away; I can't believe it. I have a request from all of you. Don't worry; it's not hard, and it will take less than ten minutes. Here's what I want you to do:

1) Find a quiet spot, preferably near a fireplace or other warm spot. (This part isn't essential, but it sure adds to the ambiance.)

2) Make some hot chocolate or cider (especially if you don't have a fireplace).

3) Watch this video. It's the story of how the Christmas hymn, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" came to be as told by Ed Herrman at last year's Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert. Ever since I saw this last December, I have been trying to find a way to see it again. I finally found it today, and I feel compelled to share it. It is a powerful story of what it means to find hope on Christmas morning.

4) Think about your blessings. When I hear this story, I can't help but be grateful for my family, safety, warm homes/cars/clothes, good food, a stable job, and all of those things I often take for granted. Finally, I am grateful for Longfellow's beautiful verses that capture so much truth:

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Christmas advent calendar... without the candy

As a child, I loved advent calendars--the anticipation of opening a new box each day, the taste of waxy chocolate (any chocolate was great to a five-year-old), and the thrill of seeing fewer and fewer days until Christmas.

This year, I don't open windows with chocolate, but I have made a habit of reading a "Christmas Advent Thought" each day. This article from The New Era magazine pulls together songs, scriptures, quotes, and a daily challenge. It's been a great way to bring a little Christmas cheer into my day and remind me why I love this holiday so much. So, if you feel so inclined, download it yourself. I think it's definitely worth the 45 seconds a day.

Here is today's thought:

“Despite all we can do, we cannot have a fullness of joy in this world or through our own efforts. Only in Christ can our joy be full. This is why the angel proclaimed: ‘I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day … a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:10–11). We are able to have a fullness of joy only when spirit and body are inseparably connected in the glorious resurrection to celestial glory. That joy, of course, comes only through the mercy of the Holy Messiah” (Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, Nov. 1991, 74).

“And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name. … And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world” (Mosiah 3:9–10).

Express your love and gratitude for the Savior in your prayers.

“It Came upon the Midnight Clear,” Hymns, no. 207.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Light of the World

One of my favorite things about Christmastime is twinkle lights. There are few things more magical to me than turning off all the overhead lights, sitting on my couch with a mug of hot cider and a blanket, and losing myself in the glow of a Christmas tree covered in white lights. This year, for whatever reason, the symbolism of light has struck me as particularly profound. Representative of the star in Bethlehem, lights are a reminder of the coming of Christ, "the light of the world." Light is often linked to knowledge and truth (hence the dark ages were a time where little progress in knowledge and truth was made). It is also linked to happiness (why do you think smiley faces are traditionally yellow?).

How grateful I am for the many sources of light in my life: books, friends, my family, experience, church membership, and most importantly the Savior himself. His teachings bring light to the dark corners of my life, revealing things both good and bad that I hadn't known about myself before. He teaches me little by little, allowing me to clean out the dusty corners and making the beauty sparkle more brightly. Slowly but surely, he brightens the light inside of me, until someday I will be like him.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

An enigma...

As most people know, my guilty pleasure is books. Picture books, novels, comic books, cook books, biographies--most any kind of book, really. The smell of the paper and the thrill of knowledge yet to be gained brings an indescribable giddiness to me. For the record, I know I'm a nerd. Also for the record, I am proud of it.

Accordingly, no one will be surprised to hear that I wound up at Barnes and Noble this morning buying a book. I wandered through the aisles for the better part of an hour, making a list of books I'd like to get from the library and those to keep my eye out for at book sales. I had a little birthday money to spend, and I decided to treat myself to a book unlike any that I currently own. It's called, The Big Book of Riddles, Puzzles, and Enigmas. I bought it because I thought it would be a good end of class activity for my students, but I am finding that I am intrigued by it. I love testing my logic skills and bending my brain. To help you join in the fun, here's an enigma from the book.


Accompanied by a wolf, a goat, and a cabbage, you must cross a river to get home. Unfortunately, you have a tiny boat which only permits you to transport a single load at a time. Therefore, during each trip, you must leave two unguarded on the riverbank while making the crossing. How will you manage to get all of them safely across, without one of them being eaten (the wolf will eat the goat, and the goat will eat the cabbage)?

Can you figure it out?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A LONG ROAD...but worth the newfound sleep

Last week, I bought a new bed! I had forgotten how wonderful it feels to lay down on a soft bed and relax into the comfort of a warm down comforter. Why, you may ask, did I buy a new bed? Well, let me tell you the story...

Back in June, my roommate began to get some weird bites on her arms and legs. After several weeks and a lot of searching on the internet, the diagnosis was BED BUGS. Yes, those still exist. I thought they were a thing of nursery rhymes and cliche proverbs, but, no, they're real. Apparently they've made a comeback in the last decade or so. Seriously, someone should tell them that, like the 80s, they should NOT resurface.

Bed bugs are not fun creatures, if you haven't guessed yet. They are small, good at hiding, migrate from one bed to another (lucky me!), and give lots of itchy bites (I counted about 40 from one night).

Anyway, to make a long story short, after four months, many hours of cleaning, and two exterminator visits, we decided to throw away our beds. It was actually a very liberating experience. See how happy I am?

For the next month, I slept on an air mattress, which was fine but not a good solution long term. I just didn't want to buy a new mattress just to have it infected as well. Finally, I went to RC Willey's Outlet and bought a bed. I have had it for a whole week now, and I love it! Here's the new bed.

You can't tell how comfy it is in the picture, but if you ever want to come sit on it, I think you'll agree that few beds are better (or maybe I'm just easy to please after an air mattress).

So, I have henceforth banished the "don't let the bed bugs bite" proverb, and I'm putting this new one up for approval:

"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book." ~Irish Proverb

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I thought I'd post some pictures of the fun my friends and I had for Halloween this year.

At FHE on Monday, we carved pumpkins. This is by far my favorite part of Halloween. I spent the better part of an hour carving, and I love the happy, goofy face I ended up with. All of Halloween should be this harmless-looking. Don't you think?
Now, I have a confession. I don't actually like Halloween much. I mean, I like carving pumpkins and candy, but I could do without the rest. I don't like scary movies, haunted houses, or trying to come up with a clever costume. Still, this Halloween I was pretty proud of what I came up with for a costume. In the great movie, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Lucy says, "A person should always choose a costume that is in direct contrast to her own personality." How did I do?
I decided that as much fun as it was to be Luna Lovegood, I should not go blonde permanently. I thought Amy made a cute Alice, Danielle was a rowdy cowgirl, Emily was a roaring flapper, and Brenda was a creepy dental assistant. I think the most fun part of the evening was the process of getting dressed and taking pictures. What great friends!

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Should Have Been an Accountant

Last weekend, I realized that I've been in the wrong career for the past four years. I mean, sure, as a teacher I get summers off, endless entertainment from my students, and a candy bar during teacher appreciation week. None of these perks, however, can hold a candle to the vast lengths accounting firms will go to in order to convince potential employees to sign over their lives to the world of numbers.

On Saturday night, I went to a recruiting event at BYU for Ernst & Young, one of the big four accounting firms. No, I was not contemplating a career change (though, now that I know about the perks, I'm thinking about it), I was just keeping a friend of mine company. I had never been to such an event before and was floored by the lengths to which the company went to ensure they got their pick of the best employees (though I'm not sure who picks their career based on a coffee cup).

The event was a private concert by Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband, which was cool all by itself. We sat in the second row and the band sang right to us! They are great entertainers, and sing one of my favorite songs, "Dream Big." Still, not to be outdone by the sweatshirts, backpacks, wireless mice, and myriad of other toys given out by the other big three firms, Ernst & Young sent their potential employees (and infiltrating English teachers) home with a free CD of the band, a bag of Halloween candy, an orange (random), and several cookies from Smart Cookie (the best ever). All in all, I felt like it was a productive evening. As I looked around at all the people and thought of how many other recruiting events they must go to, and all the goodies they must get at those events, I couldn't help thinking...I should have been an accountant.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Food for Thought...

A friend sent me this video, and I thought it was so interesting that I had to post it. ENJOY.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Brother, My Keeper

Today is my brother Kenneth's birthday. He turns 31. In honor of our 24 year long friendship, I thought I'd recount some favorite memories with him.


*playing hide-and-find, especially when Kenny hid between the book shelf and the bed and we couldn't find him forever.

*going on secret missions to clean the house, complete with code names.

*creating a HUGE poof pad in the family room that consisted of all the blankets and pillows in the entire house, and then we spent over an hour doing flips and tricks onto it.

*Getting trapped on a rock in the blackberry patch because Kenny wanted me to try to get the berries up there. Thanks!

*finger painting on the sliding glass door in the family room with shaving cream to the inspirational sounds of Gregorian chants on the record player. Sorry about the smell, Mom and Dad.

*building sandcastles at just about every beach we went to. My favorite was when we made the Salt Lake Temple and people thought it was a mission and that the angel Moroni torn from a paper cup was a cross. Hmm, we've got to work on our design a bit.

*listening to bed time stories (usually stories from the Bible or Book of Mormon) a la Kenneth. He always added a bit more spice than the scriptural accounts.

*Kenny trying to take care of me when I had a tummy ache by rubbing my stomach. Sorry about how that one ended up, Ken!

*the letter he wrote me one time while he was on his mission that made my day and was just what I needed to hear at that moment. To this day, that small event sticks out as one of the kindest things someone has done for me, and is an example of how the Lord uses us to answer each other's prayers.

*Falling asleep to the sound of you playing the guitar because the sound traveled through the heating vent.

I could keep going forever, but suffice it to say that writing this list has reminded me what a wonderful brother I have and how much fun he adds to my life! More than that, though, he always looks out for me and takes care of me as best he can. I always know that I can go to him if I need anything.

Love you Ken!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's a Bird..It's a Plane...It's a KLUTZ!

After my last post, several of you asked how I answered my students when they asked about my most embarrassing moment. The truth is that I told different stories to different classes because I couldn't decide. As most of you know, I am a self proclaimed klutz and proud of it!

Today, for your entertainment, I will tell you what I consider to be my top three stories, and I want you to vote. Which do you think is worst? (Or best, as the case may be, since I think these stories are hilarious and I don't really get THAT embarrassed very easily.) In order to keep my influence over the voting as insignificant as possible, I will tell the stories in chronological order.

#1: The Classic "I've-fallen-and-500-people-just saw" Act

It was my senior year of high school. I had finally gotten the role in the school musical that I wanted. We had practiced, prepared, and had a great run of the show so far. It came down to closing night--the last time I would perform a play on my high school stage. The crowd had been really responsive that night--easy to please. But, I was about to give them more that they had bargained for.

I was on stage with three other girls performing a tap number. We were all doing our synchronized moves when, all of the sudden, my tap shoe slipped out from underneath me and...THUD! I went down, face first, onto the stage. I got up quickly and finished the number, and, truthfully, it wasn't until I was off stage that I fully comprehended what had happened. I thought for a moment, maybe it wasn't that bad and no one noticed. No such luck.

As friend after friend...and finally even my director...came up to me to ask if I was okay ("I saw that awful fall!" they would say), it sunk in that, YES, I really had committed the most cliche stage act ever--I had just fallen on stage in front of 500 people on closing night of the spring musical.

#2: The Attack of the Chain-link Fence

At the school where I work, we occasionally have fire drills to review with students proper emergency procedure. I'm sure this is common practice at just about every school across the nation.

During one such drill on a particularly cold October day, I felt badly that my students hadn't had time to get coats before filing outside into the frigid air. Trying to figure out a way to help them keep warm, I exclaimed, "Come on kids, run in place! It will keep you warm." To demonstrate (because I'm sure they really needed the visual), I began running in place. Unfortunately, I was standing really close--too close--to a chain-link fence. Much to my surprise, my high heel shoe got caught and I went crashing to the ground.

My students gasped, unsure of how to react, and the teacher next to me, who hadn't been looking my way, heard the gasp, turned around, and yelled, "Oh my gosh! Are you okay?!" I was fine, though for the rest of the year my students never let me live it down and constantly reminded me, "Be careful of that cord, Miss Wright...Don't trip over that backpack, Miss Wright." They got a kick out of it!

#3: Flirtation Gone Awry

I have really bad teeth. So bad, in fact, that I have had four root canals. It's all because of my bad dental genes that this story even exists...not that I blame you, Dad :). I had just had a temporary crown put on one of my front incisors when I gallivanted off to a Young Single Adult retreat in the mountains the weekend before school started last summer. It was a great activity and I had a good time going to classes...and flirting with the boy I liked.

On the closing day of the retreat, I was eating a carrot at lunch (irresponsible with a temp crown, I know), when I felt the crown pop off! I ran to the bathroom, hoping that I could just slide the crown back onto the stub of the tooth. No such luck--I had broken the tooth itself! I searched out a friend of mine who was a dentist and he advised me to drive home and see if I could get in contact with my dentist to fix it before I started school Monday (because a missing front tooth would have made a great first impression).

I made arrangements to leave, but I needed to tell the boy I liked that I was leaving early because he had been planning to come back down the hill with us. I placed the tooth precariously back in my mouth so I wouldn't look like an idiot talking to him, and went to find him. So far, so good. I had a plan to get it fixed and everything would be all right.

Except, life couldn't be that simple. While I was talking to him, the tooth FLEW out of my mouth. And I mean FLEW! It skittered across the picnic table where he was sitting and fell onto the ground. Embarrassed, I dropped to my knees looking for it. The boy joined me, and we began crawling around, searching. We couldn't find it, and people began to notice and want to help.

"What are we looking for?" they asked.

"My tooth," I replied. "Don't ask."

Finally, he found my tooth and held it out to me. As I reached for the tooth in his outstretched palm, I thought to myself, this can't be happening. I am not getting my TOOTH back from the boy I like.

The good news is that I did get the tooth fixed and my life did not end in an embarrassed heap on the ground of that campsite.

SOOOOOO....WHAT DO YOU THINK? Which one wins the prize?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Interviews with Seventh Graders

SO, every year I do an interview project with my seventh grade students. They interview each other and then write a magazine article about the person. It's a great way for them to get to know each other, for me to get to know them, and for them to experiment with writing. Now for the exciting a practice for the interviews they conduct of each other, I always let them interview me for 10-15 minutes. It's the one day each year that I let them ask me any question (almost) and I let them get to know me. Plus, by doing so, they practice the skills I want them to learn anyway.

Here are the top 5 entertaining questions I got today:

5. What is your most embarrassing moment? (EVERY class ALWAYS asks this one)

4. What conditioner do you use? (REALLY?)

3. Are you Russian? (...not sure how he guessed)

2. How did you meet your husband ("I don't know. I'll let you know when I find him.")

And the kicker...

1. Are you married? If yes, do you like him? If no, do you want to be? (Seriously, what kind of a question is that?!?!? How was I supposed to answer? ... "Umm, no, I'm not married but if I ever do get married I hope I like him. And, yes, I would like to get married, but please don't try to set me up. I'll find my own dates.")

Once again, seventh graders never cease to make me laugh! Just thought I'd share!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Are we going to actually learn anything today?"

It's official: I am back at school again. The first official day of school was yesterday, although I met some of the students and parents on Monday at "Back to School" night and all of them Tuesday during 7th grade orientation. It's been a busy week trying to get everything set up, planning lessons, cleaning, organizing, making copies, meeting with colleagues, etc. I forget how much energy teaching takes. I have taken a nap almost every day this week! I'm sure I'll get used to it again, but it's hard to get back in the habit.

I'm really excited about my classes this year, and I don't see any major behavior issues yet, which is a good sign. It is interesting, however, to see the difference between my honors and regular students. During orientation, one of my honors students asked, "Are we actually going to learn anything today?" Bless his heart, I thought to myself, only an honors student would be concerned about the level of academic rigor on the first day of school. My actual reply was, "Yes, you're going to learn today, it just won't relate directly to English curriculum. You'll learn all about how to survive the first week of middle school." That seemed to satisfy him, at least temporarily. I guess I better gear up and get some killer lessons ready, though. These kids are ready to learn! Now, if I could only learn their names!

Here's my inspirational quote for the day:
"Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire." ~William Butler Yeats

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Home on the Range!

Ever since I was little, I have loved horses. I love the balance between beauty and strength that they epitomize. Like most little girls, I wanted a horse of my very own. In fact, I distinctly remember asking over and over again for a horse. One day, my mom looked at me and said, "Megan, I have wanted a horse since I was younger than you. When I get a horse, we can talk about you getting one." I couldn't argue with Mom's logic (she was good at coming up with the most unarguable answers), and I don't think I ever asked again.

Still it didn't stop me from loving them. This week, I got relive that childhood love when I went up to my roommate's house to ride horses that her mom owns. It was fun (and fast! The horses didn't really like walking.). So, for your enjoyment, here are a few pictures of us riding Rico and Dante.
Me on Dante--trying to differentiate between gaiting and trotting.

Brenda on Dante
Getting saddled up for the first time. Danielle and her mom helping Brenda and Emily.
Emily... pondering what life would be like as a horse?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Nearsighted Princess (A modern fairytale)

This is a unique fairytale. It doesn't involve a prince saving a damsel in distress, or a dragon wreaking havoc on the countryside, or a disgruntled witch who lives deep in the woods. Instead, it is the story of an ordinary, visually challenged girl.

Once upon a time, there was a princess who couldn't see very well. In fact, she was so nearsighted that she was practically farsighted as well. It didn't bother her too much because she had been that way since she was very young, and the kingdom's inventors has created lenses that made her able to see. Still, sometimes she wished that she could just see like normal people. She wondered what it would be like to wake up in the morning and look around her bedroom and actually be able to clearly see the objects that were in it.

One day, she went to see a wizard in the kingdom and asked him about it. He told her that a procedure could be done that would fix her eyes permanently. She was ecstatic, but a little wary of the wizard's promise. Would it really work? What if something went wrong and she went blind? These and many other questions swirled around her head, making her nervous. She told the wizard she would think about it and get back to him.

The princess went to the royal library to investigate. She found out that a lot had been written about the procedure and read everything she could get her hands on. Finally, she was satisfied and told the wizard that she wanted him to fix her eyes. They scheduled an appointment for a fortnight hence, and the princess skipped home happily.

The next two weeks were torture. She had to wear glasses rather than contacts in preparation for the procedure, and they kept sliding down her nose and falling off her face. Plus, they made her much clumsier because she didn't have peripheral vision. But, she got through the annoyance, and told herself repeatedly that it would be worth it when the procedure was over.

Finally the day of the procedure came. The princess wasn't nervous until several of the other courtiers in the castle asked her if she was. Then the old questions and doubts came back. "

What if I go blind?" she thought. "This could be the last day of my life that I see."

Shortly thereafter, the princess told herself to stop being melodramatic, and she sallied forth to meet her fate.

At the wizard's chambers, she waited for a long time before they actually called her name. The princess passed the time by reading just about every magazine in the waiting room and staring at the walls. Finally, it was her turn. She was taken back to a small, dimly lit room and told to sit in a chair. They leaned the chair back and told her to look at a magical, flashing orange light. The wizard talked her through the whole procedure and ten minutes later, she was done! It was that simple!

Already, the princess could see better than before, although the world was a little hazy. It would only be a matter of days before the princess would be able to see perfectly and the scratchiness in her eyes would fade away. And she lived happily--with 20/20 vision--ever after.

P.S. - Stay tuned for the next installment of the story: The Not-so-nearsighted Princess Finds Her Prince! (Publication date is yet unknown, but the author is open to suggestions on how the plot of the sequel should unfold.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lessons Learned at Summer Camp

As a favor to a friend, last week I spent two days cooking at a boys' ranch in the mountains about an hour from where I live. Isn't it beautiful! I didn't really know what to expect from the experience, and wasn't sure whether it would be a blast or whether it would be awkward to be the token girl at the camp (other than my friend's mom who was the head cook).

I am happy to report, however, that I had a blast. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, but I also got to do some of the fun activities with the campers and counselors. We weeded, kayaked, biked, rode horses, played games, ate milkshakes, watched the meteor shower, built log furniture and a tipi, tie-dyed, and more. I was so busy, I didn't even have time to read my book, and you all know how significant THAT is. :)

I learned a few things, too:

1) Don't try to run down hill with a kayak. They are really heavy, and you will likely end up with your body too far ahead of your feet. This will probably end with you sprawled on the ground on top of the kayak. (Be prepared to find bruises on your hips the next day.)

2) If you are going to compete in the bike leg of a mini-triathlon relay, make sure that you know how to change gears on the bike you are using. Otherwise, you will spend half of your time on the course feeling like a clown on a little kid's bike, and you'll likely get so flustered that you miss the final turn and go the wrong way. Still, it's not the end of the world because you'll still finish the course and be no worse for wear.

3) Teenage boys will take every opportunity imaginable to compete. It's really entertaining to watch. Usually they stop when someone starts bleeding though (at least long enough to clean up the blood).

4) Meteor showers are best viewed from the top deck of a barn inside a sleeping bag. Simply beautiful. It's like Heavenly Father is waving hello.

5) Food always tastes better after you have been running around for hours and hours. It's amazing how good it feels sometimes to be tired and hungry when it's from working and playing hard.

So, that's the gist of my adventure. I had forgotten how much fun it is to hang out with teenage boys. They are hilarious. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to be a part of this program for a few days. It has made me even more excited to go back to school next week.

Monday, August 3, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

I went home to California last week, and I loved every second of it. There's something exhilarating about driving down the highway past rows and rows of fruit trees, knowing that every second you are getting closer to a farmer's market where you can partake of the yumminess! There's something soothing about pulling up to the same lakeside general store you've been going to since before you can remember, and finding out the the night crawlers are still kept in the same spot. There's just something wonderful about going home and being reminded of people and places that are so familiar and that hold so many memories.

I spent the week shopping, going to Huntington Lake, meeting up with friends from high school, eating fabulous food, play Super Scrabble, and watching Center Stage's production of Beauty and the Beast.

It was a great week and many thanks go out to Mom and Dad for all the entertaining they did and for all of the years of memories! Here's to...

Baking hundreds of cookies in 104 degree weather

Picking grapes on the welfare farm and getting slurpies afterwards

Fishing with Dad, even when I wouldn't touch the fish I caught

Sticking labels on thousands of postcard ads for musicals to be mailed all over the valley

Making apricot jam, and apricot fruit leather, and dried apricots, and...who-knows-what-else

Swimming in the pool, trying not to puncture any beach balls on the rose bushes, and failing

Camping, especially waking up to Mom cooking over a camp fire

And all the other fun times we have every time I go home!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Words and Bombs

Here's my new fun find of the day. Apparently, being off from school leaves me way too much time to play around with random fun things on the internet, but I had to share this one. You know those magnetic words strips that you can push around on a refrigerator or filing cabinet and make weird, funny, and/or profound phrases? Leave it to a word nerd, but I just discovered that you can do the same thing online at the company's website: Magnetic Poetry. It's awesome! You get the same creative outlet with no clutter! Genius.

What poems can you come up with?

By the way,
are you wondering what's with the title of this post? Here's the answer:

"Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs." --Pearl Strachan

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Oh, say can you see?

Happy Fourth of July!

I love this holiday! It is one of the less commercial, I think (aside from the fireworks), and it's good to take time once a year to remember how our country was created. It was not easy, nor simple, but few things that matter ever are. I am grateful, especially on this day, to be a part of this country. Despite the problems we face, it is a wonderful place to live!

Just for fun, I thought I'd post the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner. Verses 2-4 are rarely sung, but they are certainly interesting and give a lot of insight into the feelings of Americans at the time it was written (during the war of 1812). I really like verse 4. Enjoy!

The Star Spangled Banner

Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wiped out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

NYC...There's Something About You!

So, here's the story of part two of my grand adventure to the East coast. Overview:

1. Rode the Bolt Bus to New York (best idea ever! $15 dollars for a bus that only had about 20 people on it. I stretched out across several seats and slept for an hour and a half).
2. Took my first subway ride (to Harlem, where we stayed). We didn't even get lost.
3. Met Jen and her roommates, who were so kind to us, and went to SLEEP! Below is a picture of their apartment. CUTE!

1. Went in the wrong subway entrance when trying to get to downtown. Ooops! Note to self, read the signs.
2. Took a guided open top bus tour around down town. It was a great deal because we could hop on and off as we pleased, and we didn't have to worry about how to get where we wanted to go.
3. Shopped in Soho--bought clothes at H&M
4. Ate lunch in Little Italy (3 course meal for $10--I was elated!)
5. Rode around the rest of downtown in the rain, trying not to get too wet
6. Ate pizza from Z Deli while sitting at a little table in the middle of Times Square for dinner. FUN, although it was totally sensory overload to be there.
7. Sleep. Much needed by then.

1. Empire State Building--there was NO line at all. It was a fabulous view of the city.
2. Ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Lady liberty is beautiful and I loved the museum on Ellis Island. I thought we would just spend a few minutes walking around, but we ended up staying for almost 2 hours.
3. Watched street performers in Battery Park--"The Positive Brothers"--two great quotes from them:
-"Ladies and Gentlemen, come closer. Come on, we are only 4 black guys. We can't hurt all of the same time."
-"We are trained professionals...that's why we work on the street."
4. Ate dinner at Smorgaschef during happy hour and looked really conspicuous drinking water and eating a full meal while everyone else was flirting and drinking. Good people watching, though!
5. Went to "In the Heights" on Broadway. Awesome. My favorite part is when one of the main guy characters uses a price sticker gun to "shoot" and scare away some thugs that are hanging around a neighborhood girl that he likes. :) Below is a poor picture of the set.

1. Shopping in and around Union Square--successful, might I add.
2. Lunch at Café Lalo, the little place where Meg Ryan goes to meet Tom Hanks in the movie You’ve Got Mail. My favorite part was that there was a lady arranging flowers for the restaurant’s décor in the middle of the floor. Ate cheesecake...mmm!
3. Walked through Central Park
4. Looked at art at the MET. SO COOL!
5. At nuts from a street vendor. MMMMM!
6. Made dinner back at Jen's.
7. Saw WICKED! Need I say more?

1. Went to the Manhattan temple.
2. Walked the Brooklyn bridge--much more fun than I expected. I highly recommend it.
3. Grand Central Station
4. The New York Public library (not much to see unless you count the random girl that was painting her fingernails at a table near ours).
5. Bought an I (heart) NY Tshirt. Ya gotta!
6. Packed up and headed to the airport.

Things I learned in New York:
1) You can feel the rumble of the subway even on the fourth floor of an apartment building. It's not just in the movies.
2) Harlem isn't really the ghetto anymore, even though it still has that reputation.
3) New Yorkers are actually very friendly and helpful.
4) Central Park is huge, and a welcome break from the sky scraping buildings of the city.
5) An open top bus is a really fun way to see the city, until it starts raining.
6) If you’re going to murder someone, dump the body where the East river meets the Hudson because then the police can’t figure out where it came from. (compliments of our tour guide)
7) Take a map with you if you're going into Macy's.
8) Little Italy has the best food, closely followed by the nuts from the street vendors.
9) The New York Subway system is MUCH more complicated than London's, DC's and Paris's. And it smells worse.
10) Even in the middle of a crazy, busy city, the temple is still quiet.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We the people...

I have spent the last week rediscovering my love for history and getting all geared up for the most patriotic holiday of the year! Last Thursday, I left for DC with my roommate, Emily. We had an easy flight, though we got into Baltimore at 11:30 at night. Kevin and Dana, who were gracious enough to host us while we were there, picked us up and we pretty much just went to bed.

Here's a brief overview of the trip.

1) Air and Space Museum (so much cooler when Kevin tells you why all of the stuff matters), flight simulators (if you ever go to DC, this is a fun splurge. Upsidedown is fun, just make sure you put your hair back so it doesn't block the projector. It's hard to fly blind.)
2) Lunch in the gardens next to the Smithsonian castle.
3) American History Museum (the star-spangled banner exhibit is cool.)
4) The Holocaust Museum (very moving, especially since the memorial for the fallen security guard was earlier that day).
5) Dinner in Georgetown.

1)Gettysburg - Wow, I learned so much this day. We spent the whole day exploring. If you go, get a personal tour guide. It's SOOO worth it.
2)Five Guys Burgers and Fries for dinner with Kevin and Dana.

1) Church with the Knells in the Kentlands Ward
2) Arlington National Cemetery
3) FDR monument, Jefferson Monument, Picnic with my old roommate Tanaya and her husband, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, WWII Memorial

1) Mt. Vernon - If this house ever goes up for sale, I will mortgage my right arm to buy it. Beautiful!
2) Paddle boats on the Tidal basin (fun, but hot!)
3) National Archive

1) Tour the capitol (after a "mysterious package" closed down the whole place and delayed us a half-hour). Next time, I want to make sure I contact a senator or rep. so I can get a better tour and tickets to congressional sessions.
2)Library of Congress. Pretty impressive architecture. Someday, I will get a library card and check a book out to study from in the cool big room.
3)Washington Monument
4)Ice cream break!
5) Folger Shakespeare Library and Gardens. This sounds a lot cooler than it is. I would like to see a show performed here sometime, but it's not much of a tourist stop. Still, it was nice to escape tourists for a little bit and see a part of town with a little bit of a more authentic feel to it.
6) Union Station
7) Heading to New York!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hope for the Future

For my friend Amy's birthday we went to dinner and to see the new Pixar movie, Up. I have been excited to see it because the reviews have been PHENOMENAL, and I have always loved Pixar movies in the past. Suffice it to say, this one did not disappoint! If you have not seen it yet, stop reading right now, go find a friend, and go watch it.

If you have seen it, hopefully you can identify with the reasons I love this movie:

1) It is rated PG, and I can't figure out why it wasn't rated G.

2) The chubby, scout kid is nerdy and reassures me that even quirky, weird people can make a difference in the world.

3) The crabby, old man ends up being good in the end (don't tell me I spoiled it for you--it's a Disney movie after all. Whet did you expect?). I don't care if it's cliche, I like that he changes for the better. It's further proof that people will show their good side eventually.

4) Brief though it was in the movie, the romance was beautiful and REALISTIC. I hope someday to find love like that. Love that transcends time and place. Yes, I am a sap. And I'm proud of it.

5) They named the bird Kevin. And it likes bird.

6) The dogs, especially Dug. Enough said.

7) The complete impossibility of what occurs in the movie. It requires imagination and a willing suspension of disbelief. I think being required to dream beyond the ordinary is a good thing from time to time.

8) I laughed and cried. Only the best movies can evoke both emotions.

9) The short film before the feature film. It always amazes me how much of a story can be told without using any words.

10) Disney has an uncanny ability to make the world a more hopeful place. We need more media that inspires good and teaches good morals. It's nice to see protagonists that are not perfect, but that you really want to see win in the end!

P.S. - The picture below is of one of my favorite parts in the movie.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Saving the World, one life at a time.

The Utah Cancer Control Program is launching a campaign to fight cervical cancer. Here's a little info you may not have known.

In case you were wondering, cervical cancer is caused by the HPV virus. Females between the ages of 9 and 26 can get an HPV vaccine that prevents 70% of cervical cancers. See for more information.

Friday, June 5, 2009

School's Out!

I just wanted to send a great big WAHOOOOOOO out into the great wide world in celebration of the end of the school year. It's been a great, hard year that has taught me a lot. It was a busy last week, what with the air conditioning in the school breaking (never a dull moment) and final projects to get into the grade book, but I made it. It was really nice to have some time left over to spend just enjoying my students' company and laughing with them about all the silly things we've done this year. Yesterday I went to Lagoon with the 9th graders and had a moment on the bus ride home to reminisce about all the bus trips I took as a high schooler myself. It was fun to be a (small) part of the memories they are making and to imagine where they will be when they are my age. It puts me in a crazy, kind of fun, time warp.

I'm still in denial that it's over. Maybe it will sink in on Monday when I get to sleep in. To all my teacher friends, congrats on another year!

Just for kicks, here are some of my students being CRAZY (they were trying to show all the things you SHOULDN'T do in a classroom for a project I'm working on for next year)!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mid Week Pick-me Up...

I have been loving the "Mormon Messages" videos the church has been putting out lately. Here is the newest one; it's sure to put your life back in perspective today. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lessons Learned in Middle School

I always tell people that my middle school experience wasn't all that awkward, which is why I'm now a middle school teacher: I wanted to go back and try for some more embarrassment and awkwardness. This year is coming to a close very quickly (and I'm SOOOO ready for summer). At the end of a school year, I usually ask my students to reflect on what they have learned, so I thought I'd do the same thing. Here are a few of the things I've learned from my students this year:

1) Brain Quest is a great way to pass a few minutes at the end of a class period. Plus, kids will do just about anything for a Jolly Rancher (incidentally, Jolly Ranchers are more popular than bubble gum and Hershey's Kisses...don't know why).

2) The best way to make ninth graders have a class discussion is to throw a bean bag snow leopard at one who you know will have something to say, and then make the students throw the leopard to someone else. That way, the kids can't get mad at you for putting them on the spot, because you didn't. Ironically, although they sometimes shrink at getting the bean bag, they always find something useful to say, and they have no qualms about inflicting the pain of participation on their best friends. :)

3) The kid who is most often asleep in your class is the most likely to be bouncing off the walls on the way in and out of class. More irony...

4) Students respond much better to a quiet, respectful voice than yelling...usually.

5) Ninth graders will pretend to hate any book you have them read just because it's not cool to read, but they will often tell you that they secretly enjoyed it in their personal written responses. Don't give up hope.

6) Seventh graders have more energy that ANY other age group, I promise. Get 35 of the them together at the end of the day, and just run for cover.

And, here are a few good quotes and experiences from the year:

*I gave my students the assignment to write similes about love for Valentine's day based on the "How Do I Love Thee" poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. My two favorites were...
I love thee like a tiger, ferociously
I love the like pi, infinitely

*"Miss Wright, can I do a jig on my desk and see if I fall off?"

*Student: "So, what do I do with this paper?"
Me: "Read the directions."
Student: "Oh." (as if that was such an unexpected answer)

Oh, there are so many more, but I have to think about it longer. Maybe if I come up with something amazing, I'll add a to be continued. Otherwise, I hope you can laugh at the crazy things my students do and get a glimpse of the chaos that is my life. Surely, they keep me entertained. What will I do without them all summer?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

My mother is one of the most amazing women I have ever known. I have learned so many things from her. For example:

1) If you say you're going to do something, do it.

2) Find out what you're passionate about and go after it.

3) Darth Vader wears the color false.

4) It's okay to be spontaneous sometimes and just have fun!

5) Laughter is really good medicine.

6) If at first you don't succeed in baking cookies because you put in 1/2 cup of baking soda, buy new ingredients and try again. :)

7) Scrabble is the best game ever!

8) Jesus Christ is my best friend.

There are so many other things I have learned. I am so grateful to have been blessed with a mother who has been such a great guide and support as well as a really good friend. Love you, Mom!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bibliobibulus Strikes Again!

I am a bibliobibulus (bookaholic). I have read for hours on end, into the middle of the night even, to finish a book I love; I laugh out loud when I'm reading to myself and talk to the characters as if they can hear me; and I sometimes look up words in the dictionary just for fun. I's weird. Thankfully, I know that many of you who will read this are as weird as I am. In order to cement my status as a word nerd, I thought I'd post some of my favorite books as of late as well as a few cool things I've found online lately.

Book Reviews:

The Wish List: A fast-faced, fun novel by Eoin Colfer (of the Artemis Fowl series), this one is the story of a teenage girl who is killed accidentally during a robbery she is committing and gets stuck between heaven and hell. She has to go back to earth to help the man she was robbing in order to earn her way into heaven. Not doctrinally sound, but it raises interesting questions about human nature and the problems of waiting until it's too late.

The Black Pearl: So, this one is hard to review completely because I haven't finished it yet (due to a malfunctioning audiobook...GRRR), but I can safely say that I LOVE it so far. It a really a coming of age story about a teen in Mexico who wants to learn to dive for pearls as part of his father's business. Not normally the type of story I'm interested in at all, but I was drawn in by the story-telling style--I felt like I was sitting around a campfire listening to an old legend. The good news is that I just found a copy in my classroom (go figure!), so I can find out how it ends!

Maximum Ride: This series has been incredibly popular with my students this year. It follows a group of teens who are the victims of genetic mutation that has made them part human, part bird. Weird, I know. They are basically humans with really light bones, super strength, and huge wings. They have escaped from the scientists that created them, but they keep getting drawn back into contact with them for various reasons. Interesting concept, and I enjoyed the first one a lot. I will likely pick up the other three over the summer.


1. For those of you that have read The Lightning Thief, the fifth and final book in the series, The Last Olympian, came out this week. I can't WAIT to buy it. I LOVE these books! If you like fun, mythology, and clever writing that mocks everything about being a teenager, this is a must read.

2. If you want to read The Alchemyst by Michael Scott, you can download a PDF of the WHOLE book for free, thanks to Powell's Books. I'm reading the book right now, and I love it! It's a YA fantasy novel about brother and sister twins who find themselves mixed up in a centuries-old feud between the good and bad magicians of the universe. It's fast-paced and fun, especially if you like mythology.

3. In my family, the only thing that rivals books for use of leisure time is cooking, so to have a COOK BOOK is the best of both worlds. I was recently introduced to an amazing book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It's a seemingly too-good-to-be-true concept that actually works! Easy recipes for DELICIOUS bread. Mmmm. I have made eight loaves out of two batches over the course of two weeks, and they are SOOO tasty. You can make basic round loaves, baguettes, and a large assortment of specialty breads. I've only done the basic so far because I borrowed the book from a friend, but I'm ordering one for myself so I can be a bit more experimental. Anyway, it's one of my new favorite things!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spring Fever!

Now that it's warmer here in Utah (at least it's raining instead of snowing), I've ventured outdoors for some fun! I went to the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point on Friday night, and I went and played with Addie and Ian on Saturday as part of my trip to the Beehive Bazaar (a cool hand-crafted boutique).
Last night, I went to Bravo Broadway at Abravanel Hall and listened to three fabulous Broadway singers do a revue of some great songs along with the Utah Symphony (That wasn't outside, but I thought it was worth noting). I saw the most beautiful rainbow yesterday, but it disappeared before I could snap a photo. Here are some pictures I did snap this weekend, as well as a list of some of the things I love about Spring.


1) The smell of rain

2) The sound of raindrops outside my window as I fall asleep

3) Being able to go outside without a parka on, and not having my breath taken away by the cold

4) Being reminded how many bright colors there are in the world, not just white, gray, and black.

5) Realizing that I'm on the home stretch of school, and summer vacation is almost here.

6) Gearing up for great summer fruits and vegetables that don't have to be shipped from Timbuktu

7) Seeing sunlight when I drive to school in the morning (nobody should have to be awake before the sun is)

8) Reading outside on a blanket in the sunshine (when it's not raining)

9) Planning summer vacations

10) Going hiking

I could write so many more, but I'll simply finish with one thought. Springtime always reminds me of a song I learned back in Primary. It's message is so simple, and yet I find myself singing it on rainy Sunday afternoons because it is so true:

Whenever I hear the song of a bird,
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face,
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose,
Or walk by our lilac tree,
I'm glad that I live is this beautiful world
Heavenly Father Created for me.

He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart,
I thank him reverently
For all his creations of which I'm a part.
Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to go see one of my FAVORITE musicals, WICKED, here in Salt Lake. Through the immense generosity of a dear friend, I sat in the center of the eleventh row and cried four times over the course of three hours, sometimes in joy, sometimes in sadness and sometimes just in awe.

I love Wicked for so many reasons: the music, the costumes, the dancing, the cool set and special effects, the connection to literature. But, mostly, I love the lessons that it teaches about standing up for what you believe in, looking beyond the obvious because things aren't always as they seem, and giving people a chance to show you how good they can be. I cry every time when I hear "For Good" and I think about all of the people who have impacted my life. Thank you to you all reading this, it is true for me that "so much of me is made of what I learned from you."

If you haven't seen the show, find tickets somewhere and see it at the first chance you get. And buy good seats...they're worth it. :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Leavin' on a Jet Plane...

It's official. I bought a plane ticket tonight for my trip to Washington D.C. and New York City in June! I'm SOOOO excited. I haven't been to D.C. since 2000, and I've NEVER been to NYC, which is a tragedy considering my love for Broadway. My roommate and I are going for a week and a half, and I can't wait to embark upon that grand adventure.

Things I'm excited for in D.C.--

1) Seeing Kevin and Dana

2) Going to the Holocaust museum

3) Exploring the Smithsonian

4) Visiting all the monuments...not in 20 degree weather this time :)

5) Going to various and sundry other place of historical significance...suggestions?

Things I'm excited for in NYC--


2) The Empire State Building

3) Carnegie Deli

4) Central Park

5) Shopping

6) Riding the subway (yes, I know it's disgusting)

Anybody have any tips on what to do while we're there?