Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hello '11. And then 12.

I've always had this thing with the number 11. At 11:11 I touch the digital clock and make a wish. Eleven is a good number. Ten, meh. 2010 was a hard one for me, I won't pretend otherwise. It started quite terribly. In a funk. It took months to dig myself out of it. I spent the first half of it fearful of turning 30. Much of the year felt like I was slogging through. Surviving. I had some rough classes, some irrational personal fears and worries, I had a bad attitude. It wasn't until summer that I started to perk up a bit. But maybe it was just seasonal affective disorder.

But 2011? Eleven has to be good, right? I feel hopeful about the new year. Alice, the best roommate-friend known to mankind, has been reading this book all about a woman's journey toward greater happiness. Alice loves books like these. From what she's told me, each month of the year this woman set a goal, small and slight, and then proceeded with it for the entire month, and into the next month and the next goal. Each slight improvement became habit. Each made her life feel more pleasant. And I think it is a good idea.

So here you have my 12 goals for the year:

1. January:
Go to bed earlier. Sleep is our friend. This is also my scariest goal.

2. February:
Read your scriptures and write a (minimum of) one sentence statement describing the personal significance of what you read. Every. Single. Day.

3. March:
You're turning 30. Spend each day of this month finding something to celebrate about yourself, your life, your body, your career, your relationships. Sing the song of yourself all month long. Write it down each day.

4. April:
Eat 5-7 servings of fruits and veggies every single day this month.

5. May:
Clean or organize something (a closet or cupboard, a load of laundry, anything) for 10 minutes every day.

6. June:
Move your body (at the gym, dancing in the living room, taking the stairs, hiking, doing some PM yoga) every day this month.

7. July:
Make your bed every day this month.

8. August:
Take a single picture that captures each day of the month.

9. September:
Read something you want to (not for school but for YOU) for a minimum of 10 minutes each day this month.

10. October:
Limit your computer time at home. 30 minutes per day tops. That's it. The exception: if you write a blog post.

11. November:
This is a month of gratitude. Make a statement of something you are grateful for each day of the month, on your blog, on facebook, to the students in your classes, your family, your friends. Appreciate life.

12. December:
This is a month of giving and sacrifice. Find a way each day to sacrifice and serve someone every day this month. It can be as simple as holding the elevator or letting a car merge in. It can be as grand as a service project. Spend each day this month intentionally, mindfully giving of yourself.

So what are your plans for the new year? I'm turning 30 and teaching and going to Cancun. That's all I know for sure. And isn't that the best part of a new year: the potential, the mystery, the hope of something splendid?

Happy 2011, friends!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Light and Dark

I don't share what I believe, what I know to be true, often enough. But I must share this fact: I know that my savior, Jesus Christ, lives. I know He loves me unconditionally. I feel nothing but warmth and encouragement, support and strength from Him. He is, simply put, love in its greatest, most selfless form.

I am imperfect. We are each so imperfect. Yet He is perfect. He came to this world for each of us, to cover for our imperfections. His only motivation: love for us, a love so deep that He only wishes for us to reach our greatest potential. During this season of presents and things and family and friends and light, I must take a moment to acknowledge the greatest light in my life: my knowledge of who I am and what my purpose is in this life. I am here to get better at being me. And this me is an eternal being created by a loving Father and Mother. And the individual who makes it possible for me to improve, to dust off my knees after each stupid mistake is my brother, my savior, Jesus Christ. During this season, I celebrate Him. For where would I be without Him? In this world so often choking with darkness, He is my light.

If you're curious about anything I've written, or anything you viewed, please go

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

In lieu of blogging, I've been up to some of the following (and please forgive the limitations of my point and shoot--yep, blaming the camera, not the photographer):

I made a gingerbread house. My first ever. From scratch. It was fun and frustrating and messy and the roof may contain a multi-grain club cracker. You'll never know. OK, the roof does have a club cracker--but the solution worked!
Next year, I'm going with the kit...or graham crackers.

I went to these kiddos' Christmas performance.
It was fabulous because THEY are fabulous!

He is kind of a rock star.

She was skipping along with the animated snowman at our favorite little (tacky) pizza place in the hometown.

And then there is this...
We went and saw the lights at Temple Square with the ward.
(Blurry, I know. But lovely nonetheless.)

I love the lights at Temple Square. But they have certainly toned it down in recent years. I remember it being a wonderland of billions of lights when I was a little girl. Every single tree was aglow. Not quite the same, anymore--but still,
one of my favorite holiday traditions.

Our new bishop was recently released as a Conference Center usher. He got us up on the Conference Center roof with his hook ups (OK, he still had his magnetized tag that worked on the elevator).
It was the best possible view. I love this photo! Thanks, Bish!

I'd like to call this one "I WAS ROBBED!"
Because I was. We had a door decorating contest at school with cash prizes and everything. The theme: Winter decor that matches your content area. What could be better than some Robert Frost action
for the English teacher's door?
Store bought decorations do not trump creativity.
That's all I'm saying.

My little 9th graders worked like gangbusters and had to deal with my neurotic, controlling self. My favorite conversation of the great door decorating day (upon discovering a clueless 9th grade boy taping masking tape in giant strips on TOP of the paper--not the little double-sided circle strips BEHIND the decor):

Me: Chayse, WHY are you taping it like that?!?
Chayse: Ummmm...
Me: You need to re-do that. It looks terrible, you can't have the tape showing! Do it like this.
(I demonstrate appropriate taping strategy.)
Chayse: Oh, huh. That makes sense. Oops!
Me: Sheesh! Who raised you?
Chayse: My dad.
Me: It shows! No sense of the aesthetic, whatsoever!

HA! Poor things! Yes, I am a control freak.

Finally, on Thursday we headed back to Temple Square. My dear Momsy scored tickets to the MoTab Christmas concert. David Archuleta was adorable as their guest. Perfect for the holidays!
I kind of love this woman!
Can't tell we're related at all, can you?
Waiting for the show to start.
(My favorite part of this photo: Allyson holding both of our Kindles--our waiting entertainment.)
The traditional "Besties" shot.
Thanks for taking our picture, usher-man.
The set was sweet!

It has been a busy few weeks. But I'm off school for two weeks,
Christmas is coming, snow is flying and I don't have to commute in it at an inhumane hour.
I LOVE this time of year!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Just Another Manic Monday

Dear Clean and Unfolded Laundry,
You have taken up residence on my sofa. The goal is to fix that this evening. I only said it was the goal. I made no promises.

Dear Grocery Store Peeps,
It was really uncool that you put Chicken with Rice cans in the Cream of Chicken soup dispenser. My creamy turkey enchiladas are going to be...fascinating tonight (no thanks to you).

Dear Adolescent Males the World Over,
Nobody (I repeat NOT A SINGLE SOUL) thinks you're as funny as you think you are. I would say I hate breaking that news to you, but the truth is I get a sick kind of pleasure from it.

Dear Boy Who Called Me at 11:30 on a School Night,
Who does that? Did it really take you that long to muster up the courage? Bless your heart.

Dear Purple,
I think I've fallen in love with you. You're a rather dreamy color, you know.

Dear Two Pounds Gained over Thanksgiving,
Do I just accept you until January or try and do something about it? It just feels like such a worthless cause with Christmas around the corner.

Dear Cancun,
I miss you and I've never even met you. April 16th, my love. April 16th.

Dear Snow,
You're like one of those mean girls: you look pretty but deep down inside you're cold, heartless, and bitter.

For Your Monday Viewing Pleasure:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Thankful List

1. I am filled with gratitude for the people in my life. The friends, the family, the students, the co-workers, even the near-strangers I have "met" through blogging. I am rich with good people. How does one get so lucky, so very blessed?

2. I am grateful for my
faith, my beliefs, my knowledge about who I am. I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father. I know this to be true. This knowledge fuels and drives me to be better, to have faith in myself and my own potential. It gives me peace and comfort. It is good.

3. I feel so filled with joy knowing I have a career that isn't so bad. In fact, there are moments of magic. Seeing young people grow, feel inspired to do something with themselves is so rewarding. And I get paid to feel like sometimes I make a difference for the better.

4. I am thankful for the beauty of the earth, that on Monday mornings that make the body ache, the sun is rising over the eastern peaks with such breathtaking loveliness I forget I've the work week to face. That snow falls soft and pure and melts and the earth is reborn and flushes green then grows weary and turns vibrant and colorful and the cycle continues. The seasons, the earth, the sky. It is all so exquisite.

5. I am grateful for music and art and lyrical words. Beauty and the aesthetic can be found so readily if one only looks for it.

6. I give thanks for even the frivolous things of life: fashion, sparkly things, tasty food, movies, the internet, commercials that make me giggle.

My life is rich and lovely and full. It would be wrong of me to not step back from every day worry and recognize the blessings so evident. It would be sinful not to do so at Thanksgiving time.

*and thanks for the image found here

Have a lovely holiday, readers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Celebrity Gone Wrong: In Which I Reveal Myself to Be a Pretentious Snob

Let's get something straight. Most celebrities these days aren't all that talented. But their lack of any true performance ability exists in mediums which I tend to avoid: reality television, bad movies, auto-tuned crap music. So I tolerate their presence and focus my attention on what I deem as real performers and artists.

But these individuals who have "the look" if nothing else cross the line when they wet their talentless toes in the sacred waters of the novel.

I'm referring, in case you wondered, to this abomination (discovered while perusing Borders Friday evening):

(Pretty cover, I'm going to go ahead and guess not much substance based on the "author.")

And don't even get me started on this girl:
(Really? I mean--really?)

I just don't think "Duff played the precocious Lizzie Maguire" or "Conrad lived in 'reality' television prior to..." looks so good on the author bio when others in the profession actually graduated with an MFA, understand the nuance within the written word, and can form a sentence without the frequent interjection like (as in "He is like totally like not like listening to like me"). I just wonder who in the publishing world is keeping the gate. Because their A$$ needs to be canned.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

*Brussels Sprouts, Beauty, Blooming, Attraction, and Other Musings Which I Can't Quite Make Sense Of

Last week, I caught the end of Marie Osmond's appearance on Oprah. She'd been talking about her son's suicide, but then proceeded to talk about her second marriage. She said something really insightful: "You marry at the level your self confidence is at."


Today I received an email from a friend with a link to a youtube version of "It's Raining Men." She was half-teasing/half-celebrating with me about my recent uptick in the dating/interested male department. But, oh. How I preferred the nonexistent dating life, the invisibility factor. If only because I was comfortable there. If only because my girlfriends are these incredible, accomplished, brilliant individuals. My dates and the boys who show interest are lost and wandering. Too frequently undereducated, "in between things," goal-less, directionless, without a place. Their potential, be it because of the economy or society or expectations or the subculture or the new iffy definition of "man," has been thwarted, misdirected, not achieved.


I have discovered recently that I'm not half bad looking. At 29 I've figured out this new layer of myself that feels simultaneously empowering and weakening. This was supposed to happen 15 years ago. But it is happening now. It is a gift, in a sense. At 29 I have a greater ability to process this phenomenon than my 15 year old self would have. It is also, at times, embarrassing. It is clumsy. Most women my age have this sense of self mastered. Most women my age figured this out long ago and have moved on to mastering motherhood. I'm blooming late.


My date--that date I told you about--he (teasingly, but that doesn't excuse it) called me a snob. And he was cheap. So cheap it was uncomfortable for me, for the waitress. He didn't perceive things the way I did--he didn't see that it was simply a not-so-good date. He called me back later that weekend. And texted. And it was so very awful and uncomfortable. And I couldn't help but wonder how one gets to 33 and still behaves as he does. I couldn't wonder how I've gotten to 29 and am still unsure how to let a guy down gently.


Sunday, a family came to hear one of the speakers in sacrament with their sweet new baby. The squishy, soft, fresh kind of baby. The kind of baby that makes you question why they're bringing him into public at this time of year when he is so new. They sat right in front of me. I ached.


My mother thinks I'm picky. She doesn't say it out loud, but when men come up in conversation she says things that let me know she thinks I'm too hard on them. I think she wants more babies in her life. All my siblings' children are grown past toddlerhood. No more babies. I'm her last hope. She once said she and my father don't worry as much because I have a career. But she does worry.


Last night at a Relief Society function, a member of our bishopric, an incredibly funny and clever dentist, talked about the parable of the talents. About how amazing we women are. About how men need women like us because they wander aimlessly, cluelessly without us. We are what they need to become men, not boys. It was a joke, but funny in its honesty.


I'm feeling my way through this new path that is also so old. It is strange and saddening. Exciting. Discouraging. It is wrought with sub-cultural quirks and expectations. I am convinced that it is, in so many ways, a gift that I've made it to this place in my life without marrying. I am more aware of who I am as a person. My priorities are more focused. I know what I want, which traits are deal breakers, which characteristics and baggage I am willing to let slide. I feel so blessed in a life rich with friends and family and lovely, lovely students (sans 9th grade boys). That fact alone means I am not panicked or rushed or willing to settle.


I am patient in so many ways, but far more impatient. The roommate spoke in sacrament recently all about having faith and that faith bringing us joy each day of our journey. She is my best friend for a reason--so much more wise and humble than I am. I am trying, always, to have faith that the Father in Heaven I so completely believe in is far more aware of what my life needs than I am. I am quite certain of that because I see this person I've become and she is beautiful, intelligent, kind, loving, open-hearted. She is nowhere near where I thought she'd be at this point in time. But she possesses so many of the qualities my young self wished her to have. She is surrounded by people she cares about. She is blessed. My little life thus far is nothing I would have designed once upon a time, and yet it is so correct, so right for me.

*For the definition of this reference, go here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dear Blogging Friends,

I am writing to let you know that I really, really, really wish I could throttle certain 9th graders. Particularly those of the male variety. I am weary of their inconsiderate choices, their troublesome behavior, their immaturity, and the messes they seem to trail behind them. You know how the news loves to portray these awful stories of teachers having indecent relationships with their 9th grade students? I am here to say these teachers are certifiably insane. There is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING that could behoove me to spend more time than is absolutely necessary in their presence. 14-15 year old boys are awful, awful people.

I also have a blog post marinating in my brain about men who used to be 14-15 year old boys. But I don't want to sound bitter and nasty. I'm debating how to broach this particular little subject. And my date last week. And what it means to be my age, female, LDS, living in Utah, and single.

In happier news, it is my 30th birthday in March. I only turn 30 once so the roommate and I have decided that a dream vacation to Cancun is in order. It will have to wait until my Spring Break in April, but we're definitely going. We've talked to the travel agent, we've looked (and looked and looked and dreamed and looked some more) at the pictures of our resort, I even dreamt about it last night. We are going for a week-long vacation of beautiful beaches, room serviced breakfasts of fresh fruit on our deck with a hammock, snorkeling, resting, reading, kayaking, ruins, bartering with the locals, and relaxation. And watching thousands of drunk co-eds drown all memory of their spring break. I can hold out until April 16th, right? Perhaps this demands a paper chain?

So there you have it. A snapshot of my brain's musings at this particular moment in time. Tell me, dear reader, what is haunting, frustrating, or eagerly awaiting you?


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Don't Fall Off Your Chair, But...

It is days like today that I understand why I'm single.

I have a date tomorrow night.

And, as you may have noticed, I very rarely date.

It is, at the technical level, a blind date. We've talked on the phone, he seems, well--normal.

At least so far.

But here is the thing about first dates--they are, as you probably well know, outright awful. One of my favorite things to do when going out on weekend nights with my favorite girls is to observe the first date awkwardness that others at the restaurant are enduring. I thank the powers that be that it ain't me. Because, while those poor kids are nervous and trying to impress or not send the wrong signals or not say something stupid or to ask plenty of questions and not hog the conversation, I am having a perfectly delightful, relaxed time.

Behold, Awkwardness Exhibit A:

Awkwardness Exhibit B:

But tomorrow night, it will be me in the awkward seat. Me sitting beside a stranger, watching a high school football game. Me thinking, "Did I really just say that?" Me trying to pretend like I know anything about football.

It is moments like this that I remember the
exact reason I'm single.

The truth is, I really hate to date.

This must be why I'm holding out for

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Here's to hoping you had a DEVILISHLY good time,
as did I:

It is always FUN when you can spend it with MISCHIEVOUS
like these ghouls:

While enjoying such FESTIVE DELICACIES as these:

And, perhaps, making a bit of a fool of yourself:
(I never knew the monstrous capacity of my mouth until the moment I saw this image.)

Good times were had by all...

Even if it was

Friday, October 15, 2010

Today I'm digging...

A four day weekend (thank you local education association for conferencing together...and making attendance optional).

Red Mango has Pumpkin Spice frozen yogurt, kids. That is a good thing.

My house is all clean.

The fridge is totally stocked (thanks to Costco and Winco).

My laundry is (almost) done.

It is hot chocolate season.

Everything feels exactly as fall should.

They got all 33 Chilean miners out.

Missed Connections. I simply love this little spot.

That autumn is quickly becoming my favorite season. How cool is this?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Decency, Bullying, Human Kindness and Other Musings

Last school year a couple of my 9th grade boys were making fun of an oblivious female student. Unaware of most things, the girl didn't notice (luckily). But it was borderline bullying. Naturally, I flipped. I took them both out in the hall and, body shaking, eyes bugged, voice low and guttural, I only recall saying something about, "I am disgusted at your behavior. Don't even try and act innocent. Who do you think you are? She is a human being deserving of all the respect your heartlessness can give." I was incensed, my mind flipping back through the calendar years to my own tumultuous adolescence of teasing and crippling insecurity.

I can't help thinking about how bullying has evolved since social networking, email, texting, photo messages, and all other mediums of communication have emerged. I thought the Nick C. debacles of my youth were bad, but pagers were as high tech as my junior high could get. Nobody ever took video footage of my most humiliating experiences and posted them to youtube. Early 90's cruelty never went viral.

I recently read this article. Which just saddens me. While I wonder about the environment of that school, I worry more about what is happening in these adolescents' homes.

Kids learn how to treat their fellow man from the adults in their lives. They learn how to behave, how to love, how to hate all from the adults around them. And while a great deal of human socialization happens outside of the home, especially once adolescence kicks in, someone is teaching these children to behave with cruelty.

Which leads me to wonder about how we as adults treat one another. While we've mastered subtlety in human interaction, are we also not guilty of occasionally bullying, teasing, ganging up on one another? Do we not leave one another out, backbite, gossip? I think we are not as kind as we could be. We tell our kids to be nice but sometimes show them another example entirely. I think we can be equally cruel, if not openly cruel. I think we are just as guilty of forgetting the value of a single individual, a value that is immeasurable.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I Usually Bite My Tongue: A Flood of Words

Typically I don't think my blog is the place for venting such as this. Who wants to read the rantings of an overly-verbose, overly-consumed-by-her-job teacher? Yes, usually I bite my tongue about these situations. Because I try to be understanding, to give the benefit of the doubt to those with whom I come in contact.

I usually bite my tongue when I see the cover of
Newsweek declare that firing teachers will solve this country's educational issues. I bite my tongue when I hear that unions are to blame for the state of American education. I keep quiet when everyone from Oprah to Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates chimes in on what they believe will solve education (to be fair, I agree with some of their thoughts). I bite my tongue when people say we teachers have it so easy: our summers off, leaving work at 3 or 4, reading the paper while the kids do whatever it is that they want to do. I keep my mouth clenched tight when I read in Time magazine that the Education field is filled with some of the worst academic performers in college. I usually don't go into any of it because I feel so intensely frustrated I'm afraid I'll foolishly cry or lose my cool. I fear if I say what I think about education, people will mistake my frustration for your average work-related whining. When, in truth, I genuinely love what I do. I bite my tongue because I fear if I open my mouth I will splatter my opposition in such a chaotic rush of thought that my words will need to be scraped off the walls when I finish.

But I have to say what I think. It has been a hell of a week. I'm in my fifth year of teaching and every single day of it has been challenging. And I need to write all of this. I need to say what I feel and think because I'm a dam with too much pressure behind it.

Let me share a few facts (and some opinions) with you:

1. I end my school year long after and begin the school year long before the students do. In between I spend several days (17 this past summer, to be exact) involved in professional development, trainings, conferences,summer writing camps, etc. I also spend my summer refining and designing curriculum, reading books that I can recommend to my reluctant readers, and, frankly, catching up on sleep and my life and those few things I like to do for me.

2. I work 10 hour days on a regular basis. Teaching means I'm preparing 3 different 90 minute presentations (with visuals and handouts and group activities and assessments and more) to several rowdy crowds every single day. I'm contacting parents and troubleshooting and copying and correcting and cleaning and teaching and supporting and encouraging and standing and working all 10 of those hours. I only hit up the faculty lounge to check my box. Technically, I get a 25 minute lunch, but those few minutes are spent helping students and preparing for the next class in between bites of food and sometimes, every once in a while, actually visiting the restroom just once. (Do you have to tell your bladder to wait for an hour because you can't leave your work unattended?) I then bring work home. I'm an English teacher and frequently spend my evenings and weekends grading and giving pertinent feedback on student writing assignments. (Just multiply your one essay by 35 or 40 for your class, and then multiply that by 6 for all the classes I teach. This will give you a more thorough understanding of my exciting dating/social life.)

3. I graduated with honors from what I felt was a great higher education institution. In English (my major), I had a 4.0. I haven't checked my transcripts, but I'm pretty sure I earned all A's in my education classes as well. Because, you see, I was a student who loved learning and her content area and worked her tail end off. Because I've always valued education--which is a trend I've noticed amongst my fellow teachers.

4. My feet and back hurt every single day. This condition magically disappears in the summer months.

5. I work through all kinds of illnesses during the year--typically because hiring a sub means I still have to not only prepare for and grade all the work of the classes, but it is usually mediocre work my students produce if I'm gone. And my classroom is a chaotic disaster upon my return.

6. I want you to think about that big birthday party you let your kid have that one time with all of his/her friends, or that time you had all the boy scouts come to your place for pancakes, or whatever. I want you to think about how insane it was to have 12 children in your home at once. I have between 33 and 40 students in all of my classes (except the two remedial classes of 20--in which behavior issues and 3rd grade reading levels abound.) My students and I joke and say things like, "Stack 'em deep, teach 'em cheap" because what else can we do but make the best of it?

7. I don't think I could conduct a gallbladder surgery simply because I had one a few years back. I don't think you should think you know how to teach because you were a student once.

8. I get paid beans to work the hours I work and to do what I do. But I still do it because I love it. It is my life's work, my mission; call it what you may. My work is essential to society and I don't believe my students can afford for me to do it poorly.

9. I am pretty sure that in several of the nations that are surpassing American students in Math and Science, the country's educational system is designed in such a way that if students are not performing up to par at certain check points along the way, they're gone, blotted out, eliminated from the educational system altogether (or, in some countries, moved exclusively into the arena in which they do show promise). Which sort of means all the failing students aren't being included in these country's testing statistics, right? These scores are only reflective of the best of the best, technically. No?

10. Last I checked, don't we in the U.S. educate everyone, no matter their ability, nationality, race, or culture for 13 (sometimes more) years unless they opt to leave early? Even if students try and leave early then change their minds or incessantly play hooky or get pregnant or go to juvenile detention or fail and fail and fail some more, don't we provide every possible second, third, fourth, fifth chance available? And, for argument's sake, don't we do all of this essentially at no charge to them or their families?

11. Oversimplification indicates an inability to think in complex ways. Education in this country is not broken simply because of bad teachers. Are there bad teachers? Absolutely. And, frankly, I think this issue needs to be resolved. But not at the expense of the good teachers or the unions that serve as a voice for these teachers. Not at the expense of breaking something else in the system.

12. Last I checked, everyone is diverse. Our schools, especially, are uber-diverse: in culture, language, etc. At my school, for instance, 51% of our student population falls in that "minority" category. 42 different languages are spoken in the homes of our students. Because we're all diverse, everyone learns in different ways and is good at some things and not so good at others. A standardized test which is culturally and linguistically biased seems a silly measurement of what a diverse student population does or does not know, is or is not capable of, or how far a student may have come over the course of a school year. If the standard is set at this spot and this spot only, it doesn't account for the student that started way down there and made it clear up to here but is still below that spot.

13. Learning happens both in and out of schools (at least, ideally it should). Children are nurtured and taught in the home AND in the classroom.

Which brings me to what is/are sort of, kind of, in a round-about way my major point(s). I think? (Like I said: scraping my words off the walls, floods, and other metaphor mixing.) Just as a person can't perform all that well if they have no physical fuel in their system (sleep, food), I don't think anybody can perform all that well if they don't have the emotional and mental fuel they need.

Kids need adults to provide a lot of things for them: a stable home environment, mental stimulation and challenges from the earliest of ages on, love, acceptance, safety, and all those basics of physical survival. Kids need home. Kids need school. Kids need an intricate system of visible (and some invisible, behind-the-scenes) adults and peers that support them into adulthood.

As a teacher, I can't fix an unstable home life. I can't ensure that someone living in poverty has the time, money, and/or resources to take their kid to a museum or has the ability to tell them what kind of tree they're looking at or that Shakespeare was the guy who first coined that phrase. As much as I'd like to, I can't tell the media they are sending the wrong messages to our society's children about what is most valuable in this life. I can't put books on the shelves of homes where there are not books. There is a lot I cannot do in the years before a student enters my classroom. There is a lot I cannot do once a student walks out my classroom door. But I can control those 90 minutes that kid is in my classroom. And I do my very best to take a student where they are at (3rd grade reading levels and all), and teach them that good, thorough reading takes more effort than they've been giving (this happens at every level). I can help them find their voice in writing. I can teach them skills they didn't possess before. I can work my tail end off for those 90 minutes (and all the prep time before and grading time after). But, for some, those 90 minutes won't make enough of a difference. Because there is more to their success or failure than little old me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Love this. Needed it.

I'm convinced that pretty much everything Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf says is meant entirely for me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


That is how many mosquito bites I received on Sunday night at a family get together held in the great outdoors of Alice's aunt's backyard.

27 in 2 hours.

Why do the damned things love me so much?


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Did I Mention My Love for Autumn?

A little over a month ago I went here:

What a difference a month makes:

I simply love this little spot up the canyon.

I'll let you see why...

I think this might just be my favorite photo I've ever taken.

We even ran into these guys unexpectedly!

It was a perfect day.
Mostly because I spent it avoiding grading.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Sweater Season

Autumn is officially here, friends.
I have acquired four new cardigans in the past month to prove it.

Oh, how I love this season!
I keep thinking of the Keats poem
"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness..."

On Tuesday evening I drove up the canyon with a friend and walked around a lake rimmed with golden aspen groves. The air was fresh and crisp and perfect. Each of us kept stopping mid-sentence to simply gasp at the brilliance of it all.
I kicked myself for not bringing my camera.
I also realize that sometimes this is a blessing.
We also caught sight of a moose family
(momma, papa, and their kiddo).

Enjoy watching the world turn vibrant. I most definitely am.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Things I'd tell you if I could

A friend from high school recently tagged me in several photographs found in the typical Facebook old-school photo album. Most of the photos were from my senior year of high school. My hair was long. Really long. I was skinny but, naturally, thought I was fat. I was beautiful and thought myself ugly. So, after reading this. And this (she does a series of these, by the way), I've decided I need to write my own advice to my adolescent self.

1. You are beautiful. Stop looking at
Seventeen and you'll start to realize that fact.
2. Cut your hair. It will save you time, money on hair products. And you'll love it so much more.
3. Embrace your freckles. One day someone will stare at the one on your top lip and it will drive him crazy in a good way.
4. Go to bed earlier.
5. College will be better than this.
6. You are talented, intelligent, and worthwhile. You needn't change a thing about yourself.
7. Except, please, for the love of all that is good and holy, just smile for the damn camera. Enough with the thumb and forefinger at the chin GQ pose!
8. Mascara is sometimes all you need on that face.
9. Stay out of the tanning bed. You're fair skinned and freckled and it could easily lead to cancer.
10. Wear shorter skirts while you can.
11. Accent that little waist. Don't hide behind clothing that is too big.
12. Flirt more with the boys. They like you. They really do.
13. Be bold. You are allowed to express your own will. If someone hurts you, tell them.
14. Don't say "sorry" or "just kidding" so much. Own what you have to say. It is of value.
15. Wear tampons earlier in life. It will change your life and save you from embarrassment.
16. Be foolish and silly. This is the time for such things.
17. Always be a loyal friend to people who do the same in return.
18. Love that body. Treat it with kindness. Don't eat a bag of chips from the vending machine for lunch just because your friends do. Keep dancing, even if it is in your living room.
19. Your greatest asset will be a good bra. I promise.
20. Don't think you need to listen to the same pop music your friends do. Trust in your instincts and good taste.
21. Sometimes those boys are teasing you because they think you are attractive.
22. Take chances and risks and listen to what the deepest part of yourself is saying.
23. Write thank you notes to your teachers. Most of them are working hard for kids just like you.
24. You really will be just fine when some people don't like you. Chances are you don't like them much either.
25. Don't be embarrassed of your parents. They are amazing, likable people.
26. Oh, and one last thing: could you whine and cry and throw an immature fit or 48 in order to make your parents pay for braces. Push the issue. Your nearly 30-year-old self with the increasingly crooked front tooth will thank you.

**Not quite during my adolescence--but, my, was I young!