Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The 12 days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

a choir concert at six thirty

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

two choir dresses that didn't fit
and a choir concert at six thirty

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

three performing choirs
two choir dresses that didn't fit
and a choir concert at six thirty.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

four performances this season
three performing choirs
two choir dresses that didn't fit
and a choir concert at six thirty.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

Five different accompanists
four performances this season
three performing choirs
two choir dresses that didn't fit
and a choir concert at six thirty.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

Six more School House Rock practices before Christmas
Five different accompanists
four performances this season
three performing choirs
two choir dresses that didn't fit
and a choir concert at six thirty.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

7 more matching necklaces to buy
Six more School House Rock practices before Christmas
Five different accompanists
four performances this season
three performing choirs
two choir dresses that didn't fit
and a choir concert at six thirty.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

8 more rehearsals until our concert
7 more matching necklaces to buy
Six more School House Rock practices before Christmas
Five different accompanists
four performances this season
three performing choirs
two choir dresses that didn't fit
and a choir concert at six thirty.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

9 ward choirs performing in the Stake Christmas fireside
8 more rehearsals until our concert
7 more matching necklaces to buy
Six more School House Rock practices before Christmas
Five different accompanists
four performances this season
three performing choirs
two choir dresses that didn't fit
and a choir concert at six thirty.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

Ten songs to conduct
9 ward choirs performing in the Stake Christmas fireside
8 more rehearsals until our concert
7 more matching necklaces to buy
Six more School House Rock practices before Christmas
Five different accompanists
four performances this season
three performing choirs
two choir dresses that didn't fit
and a choir concert at six thirty.

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me

11 extra pounds
Ten songs to conduct
9 ward choirs performing in the Stake Christmas fireside
8 more rehearsals until our concert
7 more matching necklaces to buy
Six more School House Rock practices before Christmas
Five different accompanists
four performances this season
three performing choirs
two choir dresses that didn't fit
and a choir concert at six thirty.

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

12 extra fundraiser mixes to sell
11 extra pounds
Ten songs to conduct
9 ward choirs performing in the Stake Christmas fireside
8 more rehearsals until our concert
7 more matching necklaces to buy
Six more School House Rock practices before Christmas
Five different accompanists
Four performances this season
three performing choirs
two choir dresses that didn't fit
and a choir concert at six thirty.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Making Memories!

Brie's Bridal Shower Brunch!

This is Brie and Nate. They will tie the knot 4 weeks from today!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Goofing around with a good friend, Nate, from my ward. He can do the splits and he doesn't even try to be flexible enough to do them. He just CAN.

The newlyest weds, Celeste and Ben Mitchell, at their wedding luncheon! And, of course, the fearsome foursome, Beamer, Celestial, Anhela, and Weamer.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Come, Let us Sing a Song of Praise!

Inspired by Emily, I am going to write for five minutes what I'm grateful for (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER!):

  • My mother
  • My father
  • My sisters Anna and Tina
  • My brother Joe
  • Shana, who has made my brother so happy
  • Louston for being my first nephew pup
  • Our cats for taking such good care of my family
  • My students for bringing joy to my life by their smiles and jokes
  • Music for healing and bringing happiness to my every day
  • My friends for being so incredibly kind, loving, and dependable.
  • My extended family for their love and support.
  • Food...especially ice-cream
  • The gospel of Jesus Christ
  • The temple and the blessings associated with it
  • The Book of Mormon
  • The daily gift of prayer
  • Oprah
  • Having a car to drive and a bed to sleep in
  • Having clothes to wear and health to work full time
  • The power of love to heal and to bring life, light and joy into life
  • Pictures
  • Email
  • The beautiful earth
  • The ease of travel that allows me to see people I love
  • The lady in the financial office at Dixon who is making my first year so much easier by helping with all my questions about fundraising and outfits
  • Telephones
  • BYU for my college education
  • All of my teachers who have helped me along the way (like my piano teacher!)
  • Babies

Em is right...five minutes isn't nearly long enough to think of the many blessings showered upon us daily. This list feels trite compared to all I have to be grateful for.

By the way, the subject line comes from one of the songs my 7th graders are singing on their Christmas concert. Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to sing praise to our Father in Heaven for His mercy and love.

Oh, I'm sorry, is my age showing?

I went to church on Sunday and waited for my dad who was going to meet me there. He was in town for Christina's dance competition this weekend (Go, Lou!). He slid into the pew next to me and immediately turned to me and whispers nonchalantly, "You know your bishop up there? That was the same bishop your mother and I had when we were dating here at BYU."


My bishop was also my parents' bishop in the 1970's. We went up afterward to the front and made the connection, totally blowing away my bishop in the process.

There's a story of my parents both getting a case of cold feet right before their wedding and a loving bishop sitting down with them and saying, "If you can't be sure about it, let me be sure about it for you."

Thanks, Bishop Heaps. I'm so grateful for your wisdom.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wake me up before you go-go...

Today, I accidentally slept past my alarm. Whoops. I got up at 7:08 a.m. and scarcely had time to get ready. As a result, I skipped my normal make-up routine and headed quickly out the door, forgetting my cell phone in the process. I was hoping no one noticed my quick morning preparations. I got through most of the day without any comments until 7th period when one student (who I would not have expected to speak up about my appearance) said, "You look tired." I was a little taken aback, and immediately my mind flew back to my hectic morning. I realized it must have been the lack of eye-liner. When I was a little girl, I remember my mom being shocked and embarrassed when I told my aunt at breakfast one morning, "Your eyes look small." The truth was that she hadn't yet put on make-up for the day. That experience has come back to bite me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What's hot...

This list doesn't represent every student within the school. These are just popular trends among some students. They are popular enough so that I, as a non-hip teacher, have been able to identify them.

Akon and Taylor Swift (boys and girls)
Finger skateboards (boys)
Little vests (girls)
Different colored shoelaces in each shoe (boys and girls)
Hair covering the eyes (boys and girls)
Skinny Jeans (boys and girls)
Thin Drawstring backpacks (boys and girls)
Suckers (boys and girls)
Chewing gum (boys and girls)
Rubics Cubes (boys)
Writing in text talk on assignments (how r u?)

If I were to make a list of what was cool when I was in junior high, what would I put? I would love the suggestions of anyone who knows what middle school was like in '96-'97. Also, anyone who can remember the cool things from their own junior high class. I'll put the year you graduated from high school for reference. This is what I can think of so far on my own.

Katie Houston (class of '01)

Spaghetti strap tank tops
Messy buns in the hair
Hacky Sacks
No Doubt
Reef Sandals
Jelly fish shoes (the first revival)
Skater Vans
Black rectangular purses to carry your binder in
Claw clips
Mid-driff shirts
Gelled Wave
"That's tight"

From Alaina: (class of '02)

High waisted jeans
Clunky shoes

From Elliot Olorenshaw (class of '01)

Corduroy pants
Cutting slits in the sides of your pants at the ankles

From Heather and Jason Carr (class of '99)

leggings/stirrup pants
curly bangs
spiral perms
Green Day
Full House
Magic Cards

From Lisa Manderino (class of '01)

Adidas three stripe pants. The tear away kind.

Christina Houston (class of '06)

One strap tank-tops
Rocket Dogs
Mini skirts
Peasant Shirts
Jeans Jackets
Burning CD's
Who Let the Dogs Out?
Corn rows with butterfly clips
Juicy suits
Abercrombie and Fitch
Razor Scooters

Caleb (class of '03)

High white socks
"The Box" on MTC
Boy bands
"I'm going to kick your trash" (he's from Utah)

Violet (class of '01)

Saying, "He's so FINE!"
Wearing pacifiers around your neck
Keychains with messages like, "100% Diva"
Boxer Shorts hanging out of your overalls
Sugar Ray
All That

Lyndsey (class of '07)

Lip gloss rings

Any ideas, everyone? I will add to the list every time I get a comment :-). By the way, I changed my settings so everyone can comment who desires. I only ask that you put your name so I can tell who you are :-).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Noun's a Person, Place, or Thing!

I'm going to be singing songs about history and the English language for quite a long time to come. We had callbacks for the musical today. We used the song about nouns for the girls and the song about bills being passed through Congress for the boys. I had 71 kids try out originally and I decided to only take 50, even though I was encouraged by a faculty member to accept everyone. I just didn't think I could handle a cast that size on my own. I have a student stage manager who is being very helpful and I hope that we can do this thing, even if we don't get additional help between now and the opening of the show in February. The BYU theater department emailed me and is going to make their advertisement for a director more visible in their weekly newsletter. I hope it works out. The kids are so baffles me! I can't wait to see how they run with this production. I'm going to have student choreographers, which I'm actually really looking forward to. They are both very talented girls.

So here's the funny comment of the week. We were watching a movie about Bach. It's a fictional story but based on true facts about Bach's life. In the movie, a young boy becomes Bach's assistant while he is working as a composer for the duke. Bach looks at the boy with contempt when he learns he is to be his assistant and snarls sarcastically, "What instrument can YOU play, boy?" One of the boys in my class, totally mystery science theater style, pipes in before the boy in the movie responded. He said in a convincing voice, "The triangle, sir." I couldn't stop laughing about that one.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pay Day

Today at our new teacher's meeting, our principal asked us to list the top ten "pay days" we've received this year as teachers. True, we've only had 2 actual pay days, but teaching is all about how rich we get in all the little pay days along the way. I shared the story about my student who wrote the reflection about his mom. Others talked about students being excited by their own progress and making strides socially. I also mentioned the "Super Stars" assembly, where students were recognized for their unique goodness and honored by teachers and their parents.

I want to share with you some of my recent"pay days."

During auditions for the musical, I had all 60 kids or so who auditioned sing "The Star Spangled Banner." As you can imagine, I got some pretty unique versions. My favorite was this one: "Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the per-ree-lous fight..." It was cute.

Have you ever had an experience where you've paid a lot of money to get your hair cut or colored and it seemed like no one noticed? I have the perfect remedy for that. Teach middle school. I think every single student who walked through my door said, "Woah, did you dye your hair?!?" I got various responses, including, "It looks so cute!" and, "Why did you dye your hair? You looked better blonde." But at least someone noticed, right?

I finally got the packages shipped off to Arizona with all of the outfits that didn't fit, along with the order forms for the exchanges needed. We were able to shuffle around sizes quite a bit so we could keep the order down to a minimum. I think between the two classes, we ended up exchanging 16 dresses, 2 vests, 2 pair of tux pants, and one tux shirt. Whew! Glad it's over...for now...I'm definitely going to approach the whole outfit thing differently next year. Ideally, I'll have a magical parent who will want to take over that job completely!

I mentioned to the girls in my choir last Thursday that I was going on a blind date on Friday. One of my girls was absent Friday and Monday and when she came back today, one of the first questions she asked was, "How was your blind date?"

A withdrawal from my bank account:

Tonight we played our second to last flag football game. I was not made for sports, and quite frankly, I can't see how anyone is. The team we played against played dirty! I had one girl PUSH me when I was trying to block her fairly. This is flag football! I was so taken aback and angry that I exclaimed, "Don't PUSH me!" I think this kind of thing happens and goes unnoticed quite often, but it felt like such a personal injustice. I'm just not used to people pushing other people. It doesn't make any sense to me. It seems to go against everything we've ever been taught about being nice to other people. I had another girl shove her shoulder into my stomach when she was blocking my rush. I was appalled. I thought to myself, "Well, they're the ones who have to go to sleep at night knowing they had rotten sportsmanship."

We were down two of our best players, and they had one more team member on the field than us. They smashed us. It was so disheartening. Before the last hike, I am ashamed to admit that I said loudly, "I'm glad I don't do this very often because I couldn't handle it. They're such jerks!" That was totally inappropriate and I regret it. But how can something that can be so good for you and so much fun bring out such feelings of anger and dislike? It's very contradictory and I wish I understood it. How can someone make a plate of cookies for a person who is down and 2 hours later get out on a field and shove a girl she doesn't even know? I know there is purpose and goodness to sports. But how do you maintain your cool?

The few times I've watched sports, I've wondered how teams have the will to go on even if they are being creamed. I realized tonight that you actually don't WANT to stop fighting until it's over, surprisingly enough. One of my team members, Jaime, saved us from total humiliation by scoring a touchdown in the last seconds of the game. It was beautiful.

The moral of this story is that I think Heavenly Father knew that I would be too emotional as an athlete, so He gave me musical abilities instead. Music HAS always been what has calmed me down and kept me sane.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Writing Prompt: Describe your earliest childhood memory with music.

"I memory at my mom makes a music so I can sleep she would sing to my at night so I can sleep. She is the best mom in the world. She like to sing to my family on Christmas She like to sing in the night she can go to sleep. She is the best mom in the world. She like to play with us at outside because she can be fun play football. So my mom can be the best mom in the world."

I've been grading papers this weekend and this was written by one of my sweet, 12 or 13 year old Hispanic students who also struggles with learning disabilities.

This is why I teach.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I've been tagged.

Holly tagged me. I kind of asked her to because I didn't know how it worked. I guess you just say, "You're tagged."

5 things I was doing 10 years ago

1. Wishing I was 16 like all the rest of my friends.
2. Singing in jazz choir with Mr. Jenkins
3. Having an on-again-off-again mad crush on Phil Van Nostrand
4. Understudying Catherine in Pippin
5. Dragging my feet through my last year of piano lessons

5 things on my To do list today

1. Go with Shelley to the mall and search for a dress to double as a bridesmaid dress and a conducting dress for my winter concert
2. Grade 25 more music appreciation portfolios
3. CLEAN, especially my room.
4. Go to Dallas Roberts so Violet can perform my annual winter hair color :-)
5. Probably just check my email a lot.

5 things I would do if I were a millionaire

1. I'd probably just ask whoever it was that gave it to me to take it back because it would be too stressful to deal with. Just ask my dad. I hate discussing finances.
2. Pay for all dresses, alterations and fast delivery of all my students' choir clothes, t-shirts, and trips so I wouldn't have to deal with fundraising, low cut dresses that need fixing, and returns. Am I starting to sound just a wee bit lazy?
3. Hire a personal chef
4. Take private ballroom dance lessons 5 days a week
5. Buy a condo outright

5 places I have lived

1. Taylorsville, Utah
2. Santa Barbara, CA
3. Provo, UT
4. Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
5. Sao Paulo, Brazil

5 jobs I have had

1. Sales Clerk at Trinkets 'N Trims, Hallmark
2. Sales Clerk at Present Time/PJ's Hallmark
3. Piano Teacher
4. Religion T.A.
5. Middle School Choir Teacher

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

I don't know why I flatter myself into thinking that anyone would be interested in following the saga of getting dresses for my 8th grade girls, but it keeps me entertained and I guess that's in large part what this blog is about.

All of the 40 girls ensemble dresses arrived yesterday, along with the men's tuxes. I didn't even touch the men's stuff. I'll deal with that at a more appropriate time. We spent all of class having the girls try on their dresses and switching around if the sizes weren't quite right. I really need to get a parent volunteer to do this part next time. However, we did pretty well and only have to send back 6 dresses in exchange for new sizes. I was delighted. I am such a novice at all this and am pretty sure I am doing everything the more difficult way, which would probably make veteran choir teachers chuckle in amusement if they could be a fly on the wall of my classroom. You live and you learn, right?

Tina came in yesterday to do choreography with my 8th grade show choir. She did a fabulous job. I was so impressed. The kids did great. They are singing a medley of favorite Christmas songs. I love that Tina and I can be a little team in things like this. Although I'm not sure when she would ever need a choir teacher's expertise for her future endeavors, I certainly need hers. One of my students said, "Is that your sister? She's really pretty!" Another one said after school yesterdy, "I love your sister! She has such a cool voice!" Tina is infamous in our family for her little deep husky voice which was appreciated by my students as well. It was fun to see the looks on Tina and her friend Lyndsey's faces throughout the period as they watched the antics of my 8th graders. They got a huge kick out of all the funny things my kids say (which is why I made this blog in the first place). It was fun to share that part of my world with them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The School House Rocks!

Yesterday was crazier than the day before and today was even crazier than yesterday.

We have to send back 9 of our 18 show choir girl's dresses. Whoever told me on the phone to go bigger on a size was a LIAR. Or, just a boy who didn't really know about getting dresses for 13 and 14 year olds, which is what he was I think. This is so stressful. Also, none of the dresses come hemmed and they were all too low necked on the girls. I have to find someone(s) to hem them and take them up in the shoulders. We probably won't get the shipment of exchanged dresses back for like 2 weeks and all of the alterations must be done by our first performance December 8th.

Slowly but surely, almost all of the cookie and brownie and pancake and bread mixes from the fundraiser have been taken home by my students. We only have about 5 orders sitting there waiting for homes. I had a valiant mother come and help me sort everything yesterday after school. I was so stressed out...I actually snapped at my students and what I said kept ringing in my head. One student asked if she could come pick up her stuff at 6:30 and I said, "You guys, I don't LIVE here..." I said it super rudely. I don't like the beast I become around the holidays. I've heard that this is crunch time for choir directors before, but now I'm really starting to understand.

I'm waiting with dread for the boys' tuxedos to arrive and the dresses for girls ensemble. It's a lot easier to deal with 18 unhemmed/unaltered dresses than 40. This is a little too much for me to handle.

On top of the joys of choir fundraisers and dresses, our auditions for the school musical began today. I am so far the only person doing the musical, which is rather amuzing considering my extensive dance career and theater production experience...yeah...right. It's School House Rock (we couldn't get Sound of Music in a junior version) and it's mostly all singing and dancing. I'm imagining in my head right now what kind of choreography I would come up with on my own...maybe the lawn mower? Or the sprinkler? Something like that. I wish I had inherited some of the dancing genes that seem so prominent in certain members of my family. So my plan is to teach them the songs and then just cross my fingers really tightly in hopes that someone comes to rescue me and take over the reigns.

I feel awful about the stress was one of those days when I couldn't have anyone playing the piano between classes without feeling like I was going to scream and by the end of the day, all I wanted was for all of my students to leave my classroom while we were waiting for a few more auditioners to show up. I think my kids don't like having a grouchy teacher, and I rather hate it myself. During Show Choir, I finally said, "Get out a book and don't talk. I can't handle dresses today and singing at the same time." I was definitely princess "shut-up" today and that's awful.

To add to my good humor, I had a 7th grade student in a later class secretly come up behind me while I was playing the piano for class to sing and she secretly unscrewed the back of my chair so it eventually fell off. Ticked is a mellow word to describe how I felt at that moment.

On a much more pleasant note, last night was our "Super Stars" assembly where students are honored for being outstanding, not in terms of grades necessarily, but in terms of character and effort. The teachers nominate the students and write a letter saying why they were chosen. Then, their parents write them a letter and both are read aloud to the audience. It was so made me cry. There were students who have a variety of disabilities including autisim, down syndrome, a paralyzed right side of the body, learning disorders, and other things who were honored for their loving hearts and their excellence in never giving up. It was a wonderful night and it made me grateful to be a school teacher and have the opportunity to see children being recognized for their goodness.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tomorow is always fresh with no mistakes in it!

Today was crazy.

All our fundraising stuff came in unexpectedly today. I was told I needed people to help carry in the cookie, pancake, bread, and brownie mixes. At the end of 5th period, the Lehi Roller Mills person came and I called for some "buff boys" to help carry in all the stuff. The tall, broad shouldered young man who came to make the delivery said to me, "I think you're out of luck." I pretended to take offense but I was sort of thinking the same thing. It was funny. So, about 8 of my tiny, thin, 5'4" twelve to fourteen year old boys went trotting out of the room to help unload the van. It was raining outside and we apparantly had an entire room full of boxes in the back of that van. It was so endearing to me to see my little guys eagerly bringing all the boxes in. I loved seeing them work together. I even said to the delivery guy who was probably 22, "Aren't they so cute?" and he sort of evaded the question :-).

So here comes awkward moment #1 of the day. At one of our faculty meetings awhile back, I sort of had a confrontation with one of the veteran teachers who I felt was treating me like a brainless first year teacher. Well, my helpful boys ended up being about 5 minutes late to their next classes due to the time it took to unload the van. I told them I'd write them all late notes. Little did I know until it was too late that five of the boys were all from the same class. And who's class were they from? Yes, you guessed it. They were all in the particular teacher's class who probably doesn't like me very much in the first place. Awesome. That was the subject of apology email #1.

On to awkward moment #2. There is a teacher who is really goofy and likes to make lots of jokes. We were doing a role play during our faculty meeting today where I was supposed to ask a question and he was supposed to give an answer. He gave some sort of goofy lame answer to my real question, so I told him he was stupid, thinking I was joking around with the jokster of the faculty. Wrong. He didn't think it was very funny. That was the subject of apology email #2.

I hate making mistakes, especially immature awkward ones. But you know what? Life is still beautiful.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I am tired

I am tired of people misinterpreting the intents and desires of those of us who support proposition 8.

I am tired of people attacking my faith and labeling the members of my church as prejudiced. How unfair.

I am tired of people tearing down our "Yes on Prop 8" signs and destroying them because they don't agree with us. I don't understand how they can call us cruel and yet so unkindly destroy our right to support our beliefs. I am tired of people breaking the law to support their cause.

I am tired of worrying about how people are going to view me because I support proposition 8. I am the same person I was yesterday, that I am today, and that I will be tomorrow. If you liked me before, you have no reason not to like me now. If you didn't like me before...well dang. I wish that wasn't true. But it should not hinge on my support of the prop. I've always supported the values encompassed by proposition 8. I have never treated people with same gender attraction unkindly, nor has anyone in my family. We have very dear family friends who are gay. I still love them dearly and find them incredible, accomplished, loving people. But I also still support proposition 8 and marriage between a man and a woman because I believe it was divinely instituted by God. It's as simple as that.

On the news, they showed a clip of a commercial of two LDS missionaries who break into the home of a same sex couple and rip up their marriage license and take away their wedding rings. How absurd. I find that particularly insulting because I gave my life for 18 months to serve a mission and our intention is to bring people to the Savior Jesus Christ and help them find eternal happiness. How unfair for people to depict something they know nothing about and skew it in such an unfortunate way.

I love God and my Savior Jesus Christ, and I know they love each one of their children. I also know they want families to be together forever, and for all to acheive eternal happiness. I know He promises each and everyone one of us those blessings according to our faithfulness. He will never desert His faithful children. Those of us who don't have the experienced committed marriage relationship that each of us so longs will receive those blessings someday.

I am 25 years old and I'm not married. I want to be married to a loving husband and be raising children right now. But it hasn't happened for me yet. What if I'm never able to? Maybe it won't happen for me in this earth life. But I am still committed to a chaste life. I believe the sacred powers of procreation are reserved for use between a married man and a woman, and if I never marry, I will never experience that. Despite the fact that I don't have same gender attraction, I am in the same boat as those who do. I am consigned to chastity and a solitary life, but my life can be a life full of service and activity and love until the day when I, too, will be able to experience those blessings, whether in this life or the next.

Guilt Trip

So today we handed out report cards. I reached in to produce the report card of one of my students who tries very hard in my class. He happens to be in the class that has been the most difficult this past term. As I glanced over his nearly flawless report, my eye caught on one solitary A- in a sea of perfect A's. As I handed him the paper, it dawned on me. "Was your only A- in my class?!" The answer was affirmative. How could I? How dare I? I was the only thing between him and an immaculate GPA. Forever more he'll have to say, "Well, I got straight A's. Except for one A- in music connections." Why couldn't I have just given him the A? As I made my realization, he exclaimed, "The worst part about it was that it was only by one percent!" What kind of a jerky teacher gives a student an A- when they are one percent away from an A? Those are the teachers we all know and don't love. And I have joined the ranks. Just call me Captain Hook.