Friday, February 27, 2009

Too much technology!

Today was talent day. I put the name of each person on the board who signed up. In one of my classes, a student came up to me and said, "I'm not sure if I should delete my name off the board or not," to which I responded, "You've been on the computer WAY TOO MUCH!"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy 26th birthday to Dana Marie Thompson! And happy, "welcome to the world" birthday to Caleb Manderino, Lisa and Chase's baby son and Melly's new little brother. Caleb James was born this afternoon three weeks early and weighs 5 lbs, 13 oz. I'm so happy for you both, Dana and Lisa!

Thinking about these two incredible women in my life on a day important to both of them makes me want to pay special tribute to them. They have influenced me for good and brought such joy to my life.

The three of us have been dear friends for over 5 years now. Dana and I were roommates for two years and Lisa and I were roommates for one year. Ever since then, they have been there for me in every single way. They are examples of goodness and steadfastness. They have strong testimonies of the gospel and hold fast to their covenants.

When I was on my mission, they wrote me faithfully the entire 18 months. They celebrated with me joyfully when I got engaged and helped throw me an exquisite wedding shower. They were by my side as pillars of strength when my engagement ended and I had to start my life over again. They are my cheerleaders in everything I pursue. When I am feeling low, I can hide away with their little families for awhile and be with people who know me and love me for who I am. They truly believe in me as though they were part of my own family.

Thank you, Lis and Deb, for being angels in my life!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Little White Lie

Today, I told my students that their concert report was due. There were about 6 people that actually did it. One student handed me his filled out concert report sheet, but there was no program attached. Part of the assignment is to bring a program or ticket stub to prove their attendance. I looked on his paper and it was filled out for School House Rock. I was excited to see he went to the school musical. I asked him where his program was and he said he didn't have one. I was definitely willing to negotiate with him if he forgot to grab a program, so I asked, "Well, did you go?" and he replied, "No." I definitely wasn't expecting that answer. I asked incredulously, "Why did you fill out this concert report, then?" and he said he didn't know why. He had made the whole thing up; yet, when I asked him point blank if he had gone, he replied honestly that he hadn't. I can't quite figure that one out.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Happiness is...

I'm so tired that this probably is not going to be very coherent. We had a short day today (HA!) because of parent teacher conferences. Our conferences go from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Can someone please explain to me the logic behind that?

Current Events:

Today at parent/teacher conferences, I met a mother of one of my students who is FROM BRAZIL! She made me miss that country so much. Brazilians have a certain way about them that is hard to describe but it's just so wonderful. She was so funny. Once she knew I spoke Portuguese, she was off a mile a minute talking about the teenage drama that her daughter is going through. She came and gave me a hug before she left which is SO BRAZIL. I love it. We'd just met and we were already like family. It makes me ache to think about it because it reminds me of the love I felt from the people where I served.

We finished getting the musical blocked TODAY and the performance is TOMORROW. I can't wait until SUNDAY because it means the play will be OVER.

I found one little student (who is about 4'11" and super blonde) hiding behind a curtain backstage yesterday during play practice. He was sobbing. He is the only 7th grader with a principal role in the show and he was devastated when he majorly biffed it on his song. People were gathered around his hiding place and I went on stage to see what I could do to help. We were in the middle of rehearsing the bows. I told him I would take his place during the bows so he could have some time to himself, but he had to promise to watch what was going on so he'd know where to go for his bow later. As I'm standing in line waiting to take his bow for him, I see his little blonde head peeking out from behind the black curtain where he was tucked away. It was the sweetest thing I've ever seen. He is so dang cute.

My dad brought his guitar out from California because I expressed a desire to learn to play. He and my mom reminisced about songs he used to play for her when they were first married. My parents are so cute. I can't wait to start putting it to good use.

Many hemmed the curtains in our front room! She's a domestic goddess and I am but a nymph.

I now have the coffee table I grew up with in my living room here in Utah. I love having it here.

Violet waxed my eyebrows. It was long overdue. She rocks the world.

My family was out here visiting this past weekend. My parents visited my ward together, which is the first time my bishop has seen them together in 30 years :-). If you'll recall from previous posts, he was their bishop when they were dating at BYU. Little Noodles (Anna) came to school to visit me and my students and had a sleepover at my condo. She is hilarious and we all love her so much. The big joke is that she never gets told anything that's going on because she's the baby. We'll be talking about something and she'll say things like, "Wait, who is he? Where is she going? Where is he from? You're doing what? We are?" She makes us laugh so much.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Dating Over 25:

The sad but authentic tale of the dating woes associated with living in a college town at my age.

Fact #1: You’re viewed as being really old.

Fact #2: You start making frequent, dramatic changes in your hair.

August, 2008

December 2008

February, 2009

Fact #3: You start living vicariously through your little sister.

Fact #4: The guys get weirder and weirder…

Fact #5: You find yourself more and more turning to “Retail Therapy."

Fact #6: You start appreciating attention from a dog.

Fact #7: You start uncharacteristic, adventurous new hobbies

Fact #8: You get set up on lots of blind dates.

Fact #9: You’re always the bridesmaid…never the bride.

Fact #10: You feel like screaming at least once every day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I've witnessed some funny fumbles in the past week that I thought I'd like to share with the group.

Earlier in the week, a distraught girl in one of my classes came up to me when the bell rang to leave and said her folder was gone. She said it was under her chair and now someone had taken it. She mentioned that people were stealing it on Friday, too. I asked her, "Is it just your music folder?" and she said, "No, it has everything in it!" I called over a few of the boys who sat behind her and asked them to explain to me what was going on. They were able to give me a few leads on who might have been responsible for the mysterious disappearance. I assured my student that I would get to the bottom of it and then find her in her next class. I marched to the principal's office, determined to find answers. This student of mine is probably not considered the coolest kid in school. It made me angry to think she was getting ganged up on in my classroom. I looked up the classes of the two alleged robbers, one male and one female, and had the secretary in the main office call them down. When they came in, I confronted them about the missing folder. It was clear they knew about it. The girl started to say something like this: "Well, this is...this is just a wild's just a wild guess, but maybe...maybe it's on one of the music stands." Wild guess, my foot. That's exactly where I found it when I went back to my classroom.

We have a strict dress code at Dixon that requires students to wear a collared shirt to school each day. Last week, I had a student who showed up to class without a collar. I told her twice to put one on over her shirt (it was in her bag) and the second time, she actually started to pretend to do it and then stopped when I looked away. I didn't notice until the end of the class and I was pretty mad. This same student rudely declared yesterday in front of the whole class that one of the songs I chose for them to sing was stupid and that she knew other girls in the class felt the same way. That made me even madder. I was very firm with her. I said I would not tolerate that kind of disrespect in the classroom and told her I hoped she didn't talk to her mother that way or else I would feel very sorry for her mom. Today, I was in my office and heard two girls talking as they came in the door of my classroom. This same girl didn't realize I was in my office. As I started coming out to go to the copy center, I saw her pulling on a collared shirt and saying to her friend, "I have to put on my collared shirt now because Ms. Houston is out to get me." At that moment she saw me and I said to her, "Really?" and she awkwardly tried to cover it up by pretending like she didn't see me and saying to her friend, "Just kidding." On my way to the copy center, I ran into the vice principal and happened to mention this particular student's struggle with honoring the dress code. She was called down to the office about fifteen minutes later. Teaching is really only half about teaching.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Twin Day

Part of the requirement for being a middle school teacher is not being afraid to make an idiot of yourself in front of the class.

This week is friendship week and today was twin day. My friend and co-worker Tiff Hortin and I decided to be twins. She happened to have some amazing pink knee socks and we decided to go black on bottom and white on top. Since she's the P.E. teacher, I felt great about sporting some tennis shoes with pink accents that I happened to buy yesterday. I could definitely see and hear some, "She's such a dork" looks and comments from my students, but I didn't care. It's liberating to do all the silly things you were afraid to do in jr. high. I didn't feel super cute all day long, but at least I get to keep some incredible socks. We had fun :-).

Friday, February 6, 2009

I love UMEA Conference!

This weekend, I am at a conference for music educators in St. George. I started off the day learning some simple choreography for choir music involving knocking my knees back and forth while tapping my palm on my elbow.

Next, I toured the exhibits and bought some extremely cheap sheet music and a not so cheap music history manual. This was after much discussion with the people at the booth who designed it and were selling it. It contains 70 arrangements of famous songs like Beethoven's Fur Elise with words designed to help students learn music history. The words for this particular tune go a little something like this: "Ludwig van Beethoven was a short and stocky man with bushy hair. From Germany, Vienna became home; most of his life was spent right there." I am currently doing a music history unit with my music connections class and I have to admit, as cheesy as it may sound, the idea appeals to me. The woman who designed it worked with troubled youth. She found they connected to the music and did better on their exams when they had words and could sing the melodies. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

My next class was so fun. At these conferences, we often will sight read through choral music to help give educators exposure to lots of "tried and true" pieces. This experience is ALWAYS a party. I love it because it is an opportunity for me to pretend like I am a soprano. I never sing the alto parts at these read throughs. For seventy-five minutes, I AM a soprano. No one sitting on either side of me knows that I have been, and will probably always be, an alto. In fact, they may even just assume that I've never sung anything but soprano. For some reason I get a huge kick out of pretending to be something I'm not. Weird.

My friend Courtney and I attended the next class together. By the time we left, we knew how to do the paper plate dance to introduce rhythm, how to use marshmallows to teach chord progressions, and how to do an impression of a French artist. Needless to say, it was an extremely entertaining class. The presenter was incredible. She was teaching us about how to connect to kids through activities in a general music class, which applies directly to the class I teach 7th period. It was fantastic. She had SO much energy. I couldn't help but think that if she had chosen not to be a teacher, she would not have been fulfilling her divine potential. She was a natural. And, she wasn't afraid to make a total idiot of herself in front of her students. Very important.

Last but not least, I learned to play the ukulele in my last class of the evening. That was DEFINITELY a highlight. When I moved in to my classroom this summer, I discovered a classroom set of ukuleles and thought, "how the heck am I going to use these?!" Well, lo and behold, there was a class offered at this conference all about teaching the ukulele to kids. I could play "Achy, Breaky Heart" by the time I left the session. True, it's only two chords, but I'm still slightly ecstatic about it. I'm definitely going to be doing ukulele in 7th period.

Now Courtney and I are in our hotel room with free wireless Internet and an enormous screen T.V. This is the life.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hair Cuts and Budget Cuts

This is my 80th post. It will be more exciting when it's my 100th post. But all the same, this is the big 8-0.

Here is my new hair.

Violet convinced me to go side-swept with the bangs. I pretty much trust her with my life so when it comes to my hair, when she says, "Jump," I say, "How high?" I even just told her to go buy whatever color she thought would look good and that's how we did it. Chocolate brown this time. I don't know if I'll ever go light again. And the title of my blog post is misleading...she actually didn't take scissors to my hair at all this time. She just styled the bangs differently. She's a master.

Things are financially looking grim for our school. The budget cuts are starting to directly affect our day-to-day life at Dixon. We no longer have a stipend to pay for teachers to do lunchtime supervision; as a result, we have all been asked to volunteer one week out of the semester to supervise lunch. That's not too big of a deal, just a pain logistically. Also, we can no longer print things in the teacher's lounge unless we take our own paper and load just the amount we need ourselves. I don't have a printer in my office, so it makes things a little more difficult. We had to cut back hours for the janitorial staff, which means we no longer have the luxury of having our rooms cleaned as often as they were. We're cutting back on heat, making our rooms a little chilly. These are all little adjustments, but it really makes us as a school evaluate our priorities. It has been an interesting thing to watch unfold.

My students have a little game they like to play where they whistle when I'm not looking so it's extremely obnoxious but I can't tell who it is. So, in true teacher form, I told a little lie that goes something like this: "If the whistling doesn't stop, we will all stay here as long as it takes until someone confesses. That person will lose all their participation points. We can stay here all day if we need to." After I caught one kid whistling again, his name was put on the board and he lost five points. After that, things calmed down a little. I was kicking myself for letting them get under my skin like that, because that's EXACTLY the point. One kid in my 7th period clucks his tongue all the time to bother me. He drives me crazy. I feel like I'm in a class full of siblings, except I can't do something annoying back. Sheesh.