Saturday, February 14, 2015

Looking for Love: Day 14

Last week, Michelle and I spent a couple days working on Valentines.  It was so fun!

I made a goal to make all my Valentines using only what was in my craft drawers.  I wasn't allowed to buy anything new.  It was a fun challenge.  Because I used leftover materials, all twenty Valentines were similar, but unique.  I used scraps of ribbon, cellophane, paper, shells from the New Beginnings frames I made last week, pearl beads from a wedding guest book I made for my mission companion 6 years ago, etc. 

Special thanks to Christina for the line, "You make me happy as a clam." My ideas were just not jiving: "If we were on the beach, you'd be the pearl inside the clam."

I love the whole, "not matching is the new matching" thing that's 'in' these days. I felt a lot of freedom to mix and match paper colors and designs. 

Michelle made paper cupcake Valentines and I thought it was clever when she left mine on my bed with a note indicating it was "gluten free."  

We spent the evening of the 14th delivering Valentines.  We had a lovely time!  We were able to spend some time with my Grandma Carolyn in Draper, which was one of the highlights for me!  When we got home, I made a Valentine's Day smoothie (it was pink and everything ;-)).

I received the best Valentine text of all time from my dear friend Many. Even though it's funny, it really touched my heart! 

 My student teacher and I have differing views of Valentine's Day. I love it! She feels the opposite, because people should show they love each other everyday.  In addition, she is all about self love.  She told me, "Valentine's Day is just another day to spend with the person you should love the very most: Yourself!" So happy Valentine's Day, Katie.

And now, just for fun...

Flashback to Valentine's Day a year ago:  

He's still my Valentine.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Looking for Love: Day 13

Tonight, my parents and I got to attend one of Anna's ballroom performances. Christina was the faculty member in charge of the event that night, so I got to see both sisters on the same stage, even though only one was dancing. Seeing them dance that would be a real dream come true!

The performance was at an adult stake dance. The place was decorated beautifully. As we waited for the ballroom portion to start, we watched couples out on the dance floor, moving to the beat of the live band of cute old men (who were quite talented!). The couples were clearly having a wonderful time. I made the comment to my mom that it's pretty impossible to dance without a smile on your face. The love I found today was the love for dance. My sister Anna had it written all over her face in her three numbers (Viennese waltz, Cha Cha, and Jive). Of course, I always think my sisters are the most beautiful and most graceful of all the dancers. It has been such a treasure to spend the past 6 years in the world of ballroom with my talented Tina and Anna. I am not too proud to admit I did not receive that gene, but I am honored to be a spectator!

Looking for Love: Day 12

So much love.

The love I experienced yesterday brought me to tears.

About 5 years ago, I joined a choir called the Wasatch Chorale while I was teaching middle school in Orem.  I don't remember how I heard about it or what led me to audition.  I remember seeing my director for the first time as I waited in the hall for my audition time at UVU.  I texted my mom and said, "So this is what love at first sight feels like."  I've always been a bit dramatic ;-).  Over the course of the next couple years, however, Dr. Reed Criddle became more than a school girl crush.  He became a great mentor and dear friend.  He is a genius at what he does. He took the UVU choir department, of which he is the head, by storm when he first began his job there as a brand new professor. He is kind and good.  In addition, he is an excellent programmer and a composer (people will be hearing his name in the choral world more and more as he continues to publish his choral works).

Each year, he and his choral department invite a high school choir to share the stage with them.  We were absolutely floored by this opportunity.  It's the chance of a lifetime for a high school choir like ours and it's a highly effective recruiting tool for their program.  Getting to share a stage with Dr. Criddle was a dream come true for me as an educator and as a conductor.

A week and a half before our performance, Reed generously donated his time to do a workshop with my students on the songs they prepared.  They were blown away and inspired.  I had seniors asking me afterward what their audition process is like at UVU so they could try out in the fall. 

Last night, we loaded a bus and headed down to the St. Francis of Assisi church in Orem.  They are so generous to allow choirs to use their place of worship.  When we got there, we rehearsed in their space for the first time.  It was incredible to hear their sound resonating through the room.  The pieces we prepared were Scarlatti's "Exultate Deo," Eric Whitacre's "Seal Lullaby," and Stephen Hatfield's "Living in a Holy City." 

We then practiced our combined number, "What a Friend."  Reed was so generous to offer one of my students a solo opportunity alongside his own soloists.  I beamed with pride when my kid got up to sing his solo in front of the audience that night.  He put his whole heart into his performance.  My smile was a mile wide.

Our souls were then fed for the next hour or so as we listened to the UVU choirs perform. In addition to Reed's always stellar performances, Cherilyn Worthen, director of the UVU Women's Choir, did incredible work with her students.  I felt so, so lucky that my students had the chance to hear such high quality choral music.

The best part of the evening, however, came halfway through the concert.  Just before the program began, I was sitting in the pew feeling a little sad.  This night was one of the greatest professional opportunities of my life.  And I wasn't sharing it with anyone.  I don't think I realized until that moment how important it was to me to have someone there to see it and experience it with me.  Because it was in Orem, I didn't want to guilt my SLC friends in to coming.  My parents were at a family history conference in Salt Lake City that they planned to attend for months and months.  I couldn't ask them to sacrifice that.  I mentioned in a text to my mom at about 7:00 p.m. (the concert started at 7:30) how sad I was that they couldn't hear my students in this amazing venue.  After my students performed in the middle of the concert, I checked my phone in my purse.  There was a text from my mom saying, "Sounded wonderful!"  Turns out that the moment they got my text, my parents jumped in the car and drove from SLC to Orem to be with me that night.  They could sense how much I needed them there.

The minute the concert was over, I rushed to my mom and dad in the back of the church, threw my arms around them, and burst in to tears.  Even remembering it makes me emotional.  And that's where I experienced the truest and deepest love that exists. 

I will never forget that night. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Looking for Love: Day 11

Today's edition of "Looking for Love" is brought to you by a text Allie sent me today.

The idea is genius. For a first date, you can go bakery hopping on Saturday mornings at all the local gluten free bake shops.  

It's guaranteed to be love at first bite.

Bonus: If you marry someone gluten-free, you can have an entirely gluten free household, plus someone to stand in solidarity with you when a piece of cake is taunting you at a birthday party. You can also reproduce gluten intolerant little ones, thus helping you recommit to a 100% gluten-free environment.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Looking for Love: Day 10

I often experience moments of renewed love for my job as a teacher.  Of course there are times when it feels like the hardest job in the world; however, those times are far outnumbered by the moments that remind me I am part of the best profession there is.

 I have a student who is an excellent student and a hard worker.  He is vigilant about his grades and takes his assignments seriously.  He really enjoys being part of choir, too, even though you wouldn't know it to look at him.  He comes across as a bit of a "tough guy" before you know him.  In many ways, he is the model choir student. 

6 months in to the school year, he rarely matches pitch successfully. 

His attitude, nevertheless, is amazing.  I had the chance to work with him one on one during choir auditions today.  I told him he was going to need to practice a lot over the summer to be ready to return to choir in the fall.  He said, "I can do it! I like a challenge."  And I believe him.

We have in-class performances coming up.  He came after school today with his friends to work on his song. His original partner wasn't taking the assignment seriously, so he asked a friend from another group to perform with him so he wouldn't have to sing alone.  I had a lull in auditions so I said I could work with them for a few minutes.  We started working on the simple song we chose for him to sing.  In the first few minutes of our mini rehearsal, I admit I was a little worried.  The melody was no where to be found.  Slowly but surely, however, he started matching one or two notes at a time.  Pretty soon, he was singing a string of notes accurately.  Though he still probably missed 40% of the notes, he progressed miles in ten short minutes because he was willing to try, put in the effort, and take feedback and apply it.  It was clear he was pleased with his success, however small it might seem to someone else.

And that is why I love teaching over and over again.   

Monday, February 9, 2015

Looking for Love: Day 9

I know most of the love I've been talking about the past eight days isn't romantic love.  But let's be honest- it cannot be ignored. Why? Because it's one of the very best things in life. And I'm a diehard romantic. 

I did a random text survey of my friends and family asking them to respond with their favorite love song of all time and why.  And I must say, this has been one of my favorite experiences "looking for love" so far. I found it in abundance.  Seriously- these responses are so sweet that I want to squeal/cry.  It's a gift to know love like this exists. I treasured all the answers and I hope you will, too!  You may find a new song or two to sing to your special someone on Valentine's Day (or at least to burn on a CD...oh wait...people don't do that anymore...maybe buy it for them on iTunes and secretly put it on their phone?). 

I have several...but my top two right now (from my wedding) are "All of Me" by John Legend and "I Choose You" by Sara Bareilles.  "All of Me" because it's just so honest and raw.  I feel like he is bearing his soul, which is what I think love should be like..."I Choose You" because every single day, loving someone is a choice. If you quit consciously making the choice, love loses its magic.
Funny you should ask me that, because I am totally crushing on the song "Thinking Out Loud" right now.  Not sure if I can say it's the best of all time, but I think it's so sweetly romantic, the whole, "I'll love you til I'm old and gray" thing.  Every time I hear it, I just want to be dancing with [my husband].

"At Last" by Etta James and "Book of Love" by Peter Gabriel.

Well, "I Will Always Love You"by Whitney Houston I think wins the prize! I also have a special place in my heart for "Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts and "At Last" by Etta James.

I don't spend too much time with the lovey dovey songs but if I had to pick off the top of my head right now, I would say either, "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton or a couple of Journey songs which are equally as awesome: "Faithfully," or, "Open Arms."

I don't know if it's the best love song of all time, but I love, "Angel" by Jack Johnson.  [My husband] is not a romantic or sentimental at all, but one time when we were dating, this came on the radio and he casually said I was his angel.  Then probably some joke afterward, but still every time I hear it I am reminded that he loves me for just being me.  So I guess it's the best love song ever because it reminds me I'm loved.

That is such a hard question.  There are so many but I absolutely love 1000 years by Christina Perri.  I think it's beautiful to think how long we all think we wait for love and then once we find it how long it lasts.  In the song it's 1000 years, but really it means eternity :-). I also love "God Bless the Broken Road." I think my particular road was very broken but in the end all worth it because, really, I cannot imagine another road where I would have met [my husband].

The first one that comes to mind is, "When You Say You Love Me" by Josh Groban.  It is the song [my husband] and I danced to at our wedding. It really describes what it feels like to hear [my husband] say he loves me.

"I am a Child of God."  (While I realize I am supposed to be keeping all of these anonymous, I just have to say my cute dad gave that answer without skipping a beat.  Sorry, Dad, I just had to share.)

[My husband and I] both actually thought of, "Our House" by Crosby Stills & Nash because it's one of "our songs."  It's a really sweet and simple song.  And it's not referring to bricks and mortar but the love that makes any house a home. The other one is, "Whenever I See Your Smiling Face" by James Taylor. 

Our song is "Time in a Bottle."  Still works and gets sweeter with time, because it says, "I would do it all again."  Means more the more you've been through.

"Your Song" by Elton John is just simple and Sincere. "Come What May" from Moulin Rouge is like a grand, passionate gesture.  I like 'em both.

Our song was, "Your Song" by Elton John.

"At Last."  Love the lyrics and the build up,  At last my love has come along.  My lonely days are over and life is like a song! At last the skies above are blue.  It's the kind of song you can only sing with a little bit of heartache.  Love is so sweet because you know what your life is like without it.

I don't know about the best but my favorite is "Feels Like Home." I just relate to waiting and hoping a long time to find love.  And the idea of it providing a sense of comfort and belonging reflects what I would like a relationship to be like.

"Sound of Music."  It is one of my favorites.

"Now and Forever" by Richard Marx.  Our wedding song.  Really dates me I know. But I love this song. :-)

Mine is in Spanish! I am sure if you read it you may understand it. :-) "Eres" by Cafe Tacuba.

"For Always," by Josh Groban; "Inspiration," by Chicago.

Off the top of my head: "Right Here Right Now" by Jesus Jones and "All I Want" by Toad the Wet Sprocket.  Probably not on your list yet, eh?

"Unchained Melody."  God speed your love to me.  "You are my Sunshine."  You make me happy when skies are gray.  I'm not sure I can choose just one...I also like "Secret Love" from Calamity Jane.

Ben Folds- "The Luckiest." It is just such a sweet look into different phases of love (except the second verse gets a little weird haha).  

"Forever" by Jessie and the Rippers because it is a fact and it is the best love song ever!!

"The Girl" by City and Colour.

"Come What May" from Moulin Rouge.

I do love, "That's All." And then there's, "I Wish You Love."

My parents' song is, "You Send Me," Sam Cooke, so I always liked it too.

I'll just go with my first instinct, "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" by Frankie Valli.  Because it shows how smitten he is with her, how he only has eyes for his romantic interest, but he demonstrates the passion and willingness to put himself out there too, and risk it all for the opportunity of a life with her.  Also, it's got a pretty catchy chorus, "I love you baby," and you can feel the emotion and zeal in his heart when he is singing.  These elements are the makings of a good song, which is also a requirement to be the best love song.

"The Way You Look Tonight was our wedding song and, therefore, if a favorite." :-)

And now for a few of my favorites! Since it's my blog, I get to say as many as I want ;-).  A few of mine were already said. But here are a couple more...
  • "Someone Like You" from Jeckyl and Hyde
  • "Out of my League" by Stephen Speaks
  • "Fallin' For You" by Colbie Caillat
  • "Is It Really Me" from 110 in the Shade
  • "To Make You Feel My Love" (lots of incredible covers)
  •  "Time after Time," especially the cover by Carly Simon
  • "The Nearness of You," cover by Norah Jones
  • "The Day Before You" by Rascal Flatts
  • "Never Saw Blue Like That" by Shawn Colvin
  • "I'd Give it all for You" from Songs for a New World
  • "At the Beginning" from the Anastasia soundtrack
  • "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz
  • "When You Say Nothing At All" by Allison Kraus
  • "Through the Years" by Kenny Rogers

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Looking for Love: Day 8

I never know where I will stumble across love throughout the day.  Today, I wanted to watch a family friendly flick after church.  I browsed through Netflix and settled on one I have been wanting to watch for a couple weeks.  And over the course of the next couple hours, I fell in love with this man:

Why I fell in love with Rudy:

Disclaimer: I don't actually know much about the real Rudy, so I'm really only talking about my love for the movie Rudy.  I'm sure they are quite similar.  Whether or not the real Rudy was exactly the same, this movie presents him as such a powerful example of a fearless, dedicated man.  Every kid needs to see this movie.

Rudy is eternally optimistic.  He gets rejected from Notre Dame after working like a dog.  Despite a learning disability, he gets better grades than ever before in his life. He goes home at Christmas and tells his dad he didn't get in this semester, but he would next time.  Of course his father and brother are skeptical (to put it mildly), but Rudy never wavers in his conviction.  Even though the odds are stacked against him in every way, Rudy knows he has the will to succeed.

He works his tail off.  When he is consulting with a priest about getting in to Notre Dam by first attending Holy Cross, he says, "I'll study twenty hours a day if I have to." And he will.

He gives 110% of his body and soul to what he loves.  When he finally walks on to the Notre Dame prep team, his teammates get mad at him for treating each practice "like it's the Superbowl." The coach gives them a hard time for lacking Rudy's heart.  But Rudy is there to help his beloved team,  even knowing he will never dress with the team for games. One of his teammates says to him in the locker room after practice, "Do you understand that if you don't cool it out there you're going to get yourself killed?" Rudy responds, "If I cool it out there, then I won't be helping you guys win next week's game. Got it?" He knows that his job is to give them an authentic experience in practice that will prepare them for game time.  So he will give his blood, sweat, and tears so the team can be led to victory.

Rudy is realistic about his abilities and appreciative of every opportunity that comes his way.  He recognizes that he is small and wasn't born with any athletic talent to speak of.  But he has more drive than any other member of the team.  All he asks of his coach is to let him dress (not play) for one game so he can make his family proud and see his dream come true.  In exchange, he gives the team every ounce of what he has within him.

I love how he wears the Notre Dame jacket his best friend Pete gave him in nearly every scene.  Even though it's not the same as the other guys wear, it represents his dream and the support of his best friend. 

I like the human side of Rudy, too.  It seems like absolutely nothing can break the kid; however, when the last dress list of his senior year is posted and he isn't on it, he is devastated.  He decides to quit the team with only one practice left of his last year in college.  His anger is justified.  He worked tirelessly since childhood toward the goal of being part of the team on game day.  He didn't miss a single practice throughout college and proved himself worthy of the chance.  Though he is ready to quit, he listens to the advice of a trusted friend and is willing to humble himself to come to his final practice anyway with his head held high.  As a result, his team rallies around him and petitions the coach on Rudy's behalf, helping him finally reach his goal.  If more of us were like Rudy, the world would be a much different place.

Rudy, will you be my Valentine?