Friday, December 30, 2011

11 of 2011: Good Life

It’s gonna be a good life, good life, good life, oh, it’s gonna be a good life, good life, good life: Oh, please tell me what is there to complain about. – One Republic

Looking back over a year of blessings.

1. I finished my master’s project; I will graduate in a year.

2. I mentored my first student teacher.

3. I received recognition for, and attended, a national journalism teaching conference in Reno, NV.

4. I climbed the Great Wall of China outside of Beijing.

5. My little sister went on a mission to Australia; I am so proud of her!

6. I was in four places at once: Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.

7. 10 years ago November I went through the Seattle, WA temple; what a blessing that has continually been in my life.

8. I floated the Great Salt Lake (it smells).

9. I travelled through the Baltic countries including Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Finland, Estonia, and Russia.

10. I was chosen to do district level training of the new 2010 Common Core State Standards.

11. The Lion’s Roar student newspaper, for the first time ever, is being printed with two pages of color!

As I look back over the year 2011 I realize it has in many ways been like many others, with ups and downs,tears and laughter, but when I look back on the year as a whole, I ask myself: what is there to complain about? I have good friends, a wonderful family, faith, a good job, and a belief in the goodness of others. I have challenges, but also opportunities. I have grown in faith, experience, and knowledge. It’s been a good year; it's been a good life. And I thank my Heavenly Father for that.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Cognitive Dissonance

I think the universe is trying to tell me something. While trying to work towards becoming this:

I did this to myself,
(see below) on accident:

I have been working on my future-wife skills, not that there is a future-husband yet, but if you build it, they will come, right?

I am cooking something new and exciting once a week, taking pre-natal vitamins, eyeing cute baking-ware in the grocery store; I even substituted in the nursery last week at church and didn't have a panic attack at the onslaught of germs. And I am going out regularly.

At the same time I am working towards nesting, I am also planning trips (in my mind) to Peru, Egypt, India, Spain, anywhere; imagining possibly earning my PhD in education from some university back East, and browsing the latest sweaters and skirts from Anthropologie and wanting to own half of them, the expensive half. I'm holding on dearly to the idea of the single life because that is all I've known.

I am experiencing cognitive dissonance: the flow of two incompatible ideas at once. I have a strange desire to start a nesting phase, and at the same time keep a healthy escape hatch. The result? Butternut Squash and thumb-sliced soup.

Ironically, I was texting a cute boy while chopping up the squash, and thus sliced my thumb.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Antelope Canyon, Page, AZ

Over the Thanksgiving holiday my mom and dad and I went to Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona. They are slot canyons owned by the Navajo people. You would have no idea they are right underneath the ground, from the top you see only a barely perceptible fissure in the landscape. Anyway! They are beautiful.

As you can see I had quite a lot of fun with my camera - but how could I not? Apparently in the morning (when we were there) the colors are purplish-blue with the orange, but all day long the colors change as the sun hits the canyon walls at a slightly different angle. I wish I could have been there all day long to watch the array.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my wonderful parents who understand my need for adventure!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Trip to the Newsroom

Life has a strange way of turning around in circles.

I graduated from this journalism program several years ago, and last week I took my newspaper students to see the news studios and print offices at my alma mauter.

It was a strange moment of deja vu in reverse. I remember as a broadcast student at this university watching tours of high school students and Boy Scouts roaming the newsroom and each time wondering and even speculating that someday I too would be bringing in a group of kids to the newsroom.

Life has a strange way of turning around in circles.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Let's Not Talk About It

I am a proponent of talking about most things. I am a verbal, so talking-it-out, works-it-out in most cases. However, I wonder if that's not always the case. I wonder if sometimes, talking about it one more time doesn't help.

I just finished reading Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer's account of the disasterous 1996 climb of Mt. Everest where 12 people died in one expedition. Afterwards when the few survivors made it down the mountain people were obsessed with finding out what went wrong and playing the blame-game. Interestingly a relative of one of the survivors, critical of Krakauer's narrative said:

No amount of your analyzing, criticizing, judging, or hypothesizing will bring the peace you are looking for. There are no answers. No one is at fault. No one is to blame. Everyone was doing their best at the given time under the given circumstances. No one intended harm for one another. No one wanted to die. (297-298)

Additionally, Krakauer said people wanted to "catalog the myriad blunders in order to 'learn from the mistakes.'" As if finding those errors would make them "too clever to repeat those same errors." (286)

It's human nature to want to catalog, analyze, and go over one more time because this is how we learn, but is it always necessary? Or are there some things we should just allow ourselves and others to have survived?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Blackmail Photos

I was told I was under no circumstances allowed to post these pictures on I am putting them on my blog. Haha!

So, my teacher friends and I dressed up as teachers for Halloween! It was one of the funnest things I have ever done costume-wise! The reactions were classic. A few of the older teachers complimented us on how "cute" we looked - because they still have sweaters like this in their own closets! And not all of the students got it because they have seen sweaters like this on teachers (i.e. elementary teachers) their whole lives...but to people around my age it was halarious because we would never dress like this! :) Hopefully we didn't offend anyone because it was so great.

Admit it: This is what you pictured in your mind when me (an unlikely) grew up to be a school teacher.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yosemite: What are men?

What are men to rocks and mountains? - Jane Austen

Bridalveil Falls

Vernal Falls

This past weekend was fall break and my friends and I went down to Yosemite National Park. My family visited the park several years ago in the summer and I fell in love! I had no idea, however, how gorgeous the park would be in the fall! The colors were amazing, and it only got down to about 40 degrees at night. We spent three days in the park and luckily, we were able to camp right in the park as well.
Cathederal lake

Mirror Lake
Our campsite!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Oktoberfest 2011

We went up to Oktoberfest Saturday up at Snowbird in SLC. It was really fun! We obviously didn't take part in the beer drinking, but had a good laugh or two over our water-jug drinking.

We did a little polka dancing and photo taking, and we ate snitchel and sauerkraut. All in all it was just great to be out with friends. AND the mountains were beautiful with the changing fall leaves + a little snow.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Save the world

Sometimes I feel like all they want me to do is save the world. You can do it they say, on very very little pay. Look how efficient we are with our tax dollars!

Most of the time I just pack up my positive attitude and carry on my way, and do the best the I can. Sometimes I have a day like today. A day where I say to myself, you know, I just might try. It's worth a try.

I have a student in my class that most would label as a typcial Latina high school student. She is very pretty and can work that angle. She skips her classes a lot and is failing half of them. I understand her teachers' frustration with her, how can you help a student who doesn't come to class? But I know the girl behind that mask.

She doesn't understand English half as well as people thinks she does. She masks her lack of language skills by not talking, it is easy for her to skip a class where she doesn't have any idea how to do the work. She has a fractured foot she is limping around on, because her dad doesn't have health insurance. She takes care of her three little brothers after school while her dad is at work. Her older sister, her best friend and role model, (who didn't graduate from high school) just ran off with her abusive boyfriend and baby to Mexico.

I care about this girl a lot. I've had her in class now for two years and I am going to do what I can to help her pass this term. I am going to talk to her teachers, help her with her homework, and be her friend. I am going to help her translate the entire Declaration of Independance into "modern English," and explain to her what lines like:

"...a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism..."

means. I am going to because I'm paid to, but more importantly because although I don't need to--and can't--save the world, I can care, and I do.

If we all looked past the exteriors of others and helped where and when we could, what a wonderful place the world could be.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Zippers Zippers ZIPPERS

Do you ever muse on strange things when you are stressed out? Do things suddenly become fascinating that you have never considered before?

My stress level is up to my eyebrows this week, and while sitting in a teacher-training conference at BYU—suddenly--the most fascinating thing on earth was the zipper on my hoodie!

Zippers, zippers, zippers ZIPPERS! Who invented them? Who came up with such an ingenious idea? Who thought of making little metal rivets to sew into clothing to keep it together?

What a fascinating sound zippers make as they go up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, UP AND DOWN, UP AND DOWN.

How curious that you can bend a zipper back and forth and back and forth and it neither breaks nor comes undone!

Curriculum design, what? WHAT? Ooooppppsss.

Zippers: In 1851 Elias Howe (according to Wikipedia) invented the first zipper, but didn’t market it. He was too excited about the sewing machine. A million other things happened and then in the 1930s the B. F. Goodrich Company made zippers popular with their wonderful rubber boots. Who knew? Zippers as we know them in clothing didn’t become popular and normal until 1937 when the French (of course) thought they would be a wonderful addition to men’s trousers.

And there you have it!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Gone With The Wind: I'll Never Finish You!

As part of my goal to pursue the passion of reading and being well read, I made a few reading goals this year, and have accomplished them. Here is what I have been reading with various degrees of adoration, like, nuetrality, dislike, and disgust:

Read 5 Books on the BBC Best Books list:
1- Atonement - Ian McEwan
2- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
3- Good Night, Mr. Tom - Michelle Magorian
4- Matilda - Roald Dahl
5- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglass Adams

Read 5 Books on the AP Book list:
1- Capitan Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Berienes
2- Madam Bovary - Gustav Flaubert
3- Medea - Sophocles
4- Much Ado About Nothing - William Shakespeare
5- Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut

Read one "church" book:

1- However Long and Hard the Road - Elder Jeffery R. Holland

Read one of the books of The Book of Mormon in Espanol:

1- Ether

Dabble in Non-Fiction:

1- Enrique's Journey - Sonia Nariza
2- I am Narjood, Age 10 and Divorced - Narjood
3- Burned Alive - Saoud
4- The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin
5- The Geography of Bliss - Eric Weiner

Read one Adolescent Lit Series:
1- Fablehaven - Brandon Mull

But my biggest reading struggle of the year? GONE WITH THE WIND. Scarlett O'Hara is a narcissist and I don't want to hear one more time how lovely her plump arms are, or her tiny waist. The fact of the matter is I started this book in June and it's October and I'm still only about 3/4 of the way through. And yes, I am one of those strange beings who have to finish a book once I have started.

Anyway - provided I ever finish Gone with the Wind, what should I read next?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

For more details please inquire within

(pardon the inside thoughts)

"We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity." - Margaret D. Nadauld

I love this quote, I agree with it, it inspires me, it does, but when I go to an event like I did last night [a fashion event] where the beautiful women of the world were everywhere and were showing it off, I felt very small and very modest and very unimportant and very uninteresting.

I know I'm not supposed to feel that way. I know I should be thankful I have all of my body parts and I'm healthy, but it made me feel outnumbered. We may have enough of the fortunate and beautiful and need more of the modest and virutous but it can feel scary to stand up against that.

I believe I am beautiful on the inside, and so I ask people to inquire within and forgive my without, but it's kind of an intimidating world out there. Especially when I feel so inadequate without.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Hear Voices...

I hear voices all the time. So says Chris Young in his hit country song. He hears the voices of his father, mother, grandmother and grandfather, various people from his life that have planted little messages in his mind.

I hear voices all the time too. Usually my own voice in the form of self-talk. And well, who doesn't talk to themself?

Therapists tell people to examine their negative self-talk and change the way they talk to themselves. Apparently this is a great way to assert change. Happiness experts say to leave little notes for yourself on your mirror, change your computer passwords to little happy messages, and even to look in the mirror and give yourself 2-thumbs-up every morning.

As someone with a spinning, non-stop brain, I've really learned to listen to myself and the way I talk about myself to myself. Gretchen Rubin says to "Examine Your True Rules," the definitives you tell yourself about life, and challenge them.

I do have a few negative tracks in my mind I work on, but who doesn't. However, in the spirit of positivity here are the True Rules of my life, the positive ones:

My True Rules

*you can complain about it, or you can work on it*

*people generally don't need to be reminded of what they are doing wrong, they already know*

*no one can make you happy, but yourself*

*the greatest wisdom is kindness*

*that's life!*

*act like you do it everyday, and no one will know the diffrence*

*if they don't know what they did right, how will they know to do it again?*

This one is from my dad; it changed my teenage world: *if it's bothering you, it probably isn't bothering them.*

And lastly, when I'm making a decision about an activity or I am having a conversation or interaction or relationship moment that I'm unsure about I always stop and ask myself: how am I feeling, right now? If I feel good: proceed. If I feel funny: stop and re-examine.

Now that you know my personal soundtrack, what do the voices in your head say?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Flea Market Finds

I could lie about it, but I won't. I love a good antique store or flea market. I like to bargain hunt; it flows through my veins, it runs down my maternal line.

In fact one of my earliest memories is being 4 years old and garage-sailing with my mom and sister and grandmother on a hot, Kentucky July day. The kind of day that melts ho-hos in the back of a VW Rabbit, and sweat glues your sleevless jumper to your sticky body.

My memory and desire were triggered last week as a travelling flea market came to town.

On my way to work I saw it, an old pioneer era house, yard full of junk, or treasure, as it were. I saw it and knew exactly where I would be at 3:00 pm when contract time was over.

I didn't have to look very long, there is was, a Florentine oil painting, chipped frame, sitting in the back of a red Radio Flyer wagon with a $2 masking-tape-price-tag.

I bought it. The lady at the cash box gave me a quizzical look, regardless it now hangs proudly above my chest of drawers.

I love it.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Gold Star Please

When we expect praise and don't get it, we are unhappy. So says Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project. But she didn't need to tell me that, it's not a new idea. And the idea wasn't invented by her. But it did get me thinking. Again.

I try to make intrinsic motivation my motivation for working hard and I don't expect to be praised for what I do. But true to human nature, I love it when I do get praise. It feels good to be recognized. It feels good to get a gold star. It makes me want to work harder.

Last week I was recognized in an article published online and in the local paper and it felt really good. I didn't expect it. I had no idea it was coming. And I think it was sweeter because I didn't.

"It has been my privilege to be associated with ------- for the past several years. I have watched her grow into an excellent teacher. She has the students best interestes in mind at all times and works on their behalf every day.... ------- is a dynamic individual that makes everyone around her better because of her positive, always happy personality." (So says my principal).

I guess I'm asking for praise by even posting this right? But that is not what I really wanted to do.

What I really wanted to do was say that I was reminded of why I think giving praise is so important. If I like it, so does everybody else. If there is something good to say - say it. I have found that encouraging through noticing the good helps motivate better than almost any other method I have found.

So if you deal with people, and most of us do, praise away.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Student Teachers: The Mirror Has Two Faces

Having a student teacher is like looking in the mirror all day long. You see everything they do in context to what you do, whould do, should do, don't do, and need to do. You see your own strengths in relation to theirs, theirs in relation to yours, and it's a test of your people skills.

It informs you how well you give constructive criticism, how well you know what to say, and what not to say. It is a test in how well you can say what you need to say. It is a reminder of your own experience and of your own growth.

This being said, my student teacher is wonderful and doing a great job!

It's a lot of work.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Amsterdam for nice girls

My friend Krista and I took a last minute trip to Amsterdam and had really a lot of fun. I wasn't sure how I would like it - not being a pot smoker and all! It was really really fun. There are plenty of things for nice girls to do there far far away from the redlight district and the pot smoking "coffee houses."

We shopped in the market, ate cheese, looked at flowers and windmills, went to the VanGogh museum and rode a canal boat....we went to the Anne Frank house and rented bikes and went around the city of Haarlem. It was really really great! What a beautiful city and country!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My New Home

For the next two weeks anyway, while I am at a journalism conference! Pretty nice room to have all to myself for two weeks! Maybe lonely?

I was accepted to a two-week institute of which I am an official "fellow." It's all expense paid - flight and all, so it was a pretty neat opporutinity I couldn't pass up!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places....haha

I want to meet my husband the traditional way...but after a couple of not exciting break-ups and caving into pressure I have decided to try online dating as well, just as an experiment, to meet new men. Well, let's just say - I'm amazed at what grown men will say to women they have never met! Here is just a sample of my favorite; all in the name of keeping a sense of humor! haha

"For what it's worth, you do seem like a pretty amazing girl and I'm not sure why you had to resort to online dating."

"I think we should just get married, that way I won't have to send you cheesy messages on this thing."

"I was looking through all these ads online thinking to myself 'Look at all the poor, desperate, lonely women...' and then I saw your ad and thought to myself 'Hey, here's a poor, desperate, lonely woman that's actually CUTE...' Haha..."

"So I was sitting on Santa's lap at the mall yesterday and I said, Santa, there is this girl on Plenty of Wackos, she is amazingly pretty. I can't get her attention, so just warning you if you get picked up by a big guy in red and thrown in his bag, don't worry it's santa!

I was also hit on by a polygomist...not okay with me.

...anyway...laugh with me. :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hermana Pequeño

We just sent mi hermana pequeno to the MTC, and because she is not learning a new language, in three short weeks she will be living-in-a-land-downunder! :) I'm so proud of my little sister.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mama Baker's Pasta Lessons

Mom, Reece's wife Caitlin, Me, and Brooke making homemade noodles.

It's kind of a family joke that I can't cook very well. What I cook I cook well, but that is only after a lot of practice. So when I go home to mom's house I always practice something, and this time Brooke and Caitlin got in on the fun. Today we made homemade pasta noodles. Yum! They turned out pretty well and we made homeade carbonara sauce to top it off.