Sunday, March 28, 2010

What a Weekend!

My family came in to town this weekend for Anna's spring break and we are having a blast. Here are just a few of the fun things we've gotten to do together since they arrived.

Christina's ballroom dance friends threw her a bridal shower that my mom, Anna, and I were able to attend! It was a wonderful shower.

They played one game where they brought in a bunch of boys from the ballroom dance team and Christina had to guess which legs were Jeremy's. Little did she know, he shaved them for the event to try to throw her off (which worked!).

Later that day, my cousin Keiana got baptized. She is 11 and 1/2 years old and she has been going to church on her own, getting a ride with neighbors. She made the decision to be baptized and chose the date herself. She gave her own talk on baptism. I am so proud of her and I know this decision will be the best one she ever makes. Those are my charming cousins in the background! (P.S. They're available, all you single ladies!)

After the baptism, my family and I decorated easter eggs. My friend Brian, who lives in Santa Barbara, was in town for the weekend and joined us for the festivities. The last picture is a glamour shot of my most prized egg.

I'm looking forward to spending more time with the Houston clan this week!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

None of your Business!

Yesterday, one of my male students had the audacity to ask me the following question: "Hey, Ms. Houston, do you shop at Victoria's Secret?" (Really? How was I supposed to respond to that? I told him not to ever ask that question to anyone ever again.)

Today, that same student said to me upon seeing my new haircut, "Ms. Houston, you put the 'S' in 'Style!'" Oh, brother.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Before Picture

I came across a pretty accurate before picture of what my hair looked like before Violet rescued it:

Am I lucky to have a friend in the hair biz or what?!

Paging Dr. Violet

My hair has been STRUGGLING lately. Don't know what the issue is. I've been trying to grow it out for a long time, but it was definitely damaged and dry. So I had to call my hair doctor, Dr. Violet Williams. She was able to prescribe me some new shampoo and conditioner and do some surgery on my hair.

Note: Please forgive the Emo-bangs-over-the-eyes look. Wasn't posing that way on purpose. I promise.

Maggie said, "Yes!"


Close Family Friend

My story…… After dating for a few months, as set up by Katie’s mother and a few other friends - Craig asked me out for a Friday night, informing me that he would be proposing that night (he’s an engineer, and believes in the safety factor – he didn’t want to propose if I’d refuse). We decided to go to the temple. On the way he started talking about “after we are married.” I reminded him that he had missed an important step He proposed as we waited in traffic on the Salsipuedes overpass (this should have told me something – he tells me that “salsipuedes” means “get out if you can” – and our first few years of married life would be different from most marriages, as he had three teenaged daughters and a ten year old son). So then we started talking about the logistics of getting engaged. He felt that first he needed to ask my Dad’s “permission” and we needed to talk to each of the kids to make sure that they were okay with this. Also Craig felt that we should not tell anyone about our engagement until we had a “ring and a date” (he listens to the Dr Laura show on the radio often), and,the “date” part would already present a problem (he was sealed to his children’s mother). When we compared our schedules for Saturday we realized that fitting in ring shopping was going to be difficult.

As we drove home from the temple through Ventura, around midnight, Craig said that his mother had a jeweler there that she particularly liked, and asked if I would mind if we took a detour through town to see where the shop was. After driving up and down the main street of town a few times, we decided to get out and walk. The store was quite literally a hole in the wall. As we approached to read the store hours, we were surprised to see movement inside the store, and noted that a light was on. We were even more surprised when the store owner asked us in. The store owner immediately showed us a very simple half carat solitaire ring. He was adamant that we take that ring as the stone was the finest quality possible, the most perfect diamond he’d ever seen. Craig liked that idea, but, as he tells it, I had to try on every ring in the store before I went back to the first ring I’d tried on. It was now past one a.m.. Craig handed the man his credit card, and we proceeded to make plans, while the store owner processed the sale. In our happy state (or maybe it was just that we were exhausted) we did not note that this was taking a really long time. Finally the store owner came out with a telephone, handing it to Craig, saying “This is your credit card company fraud department.” Apparently, the credit card company questioned a sale in a jewelry store at 2:00 a.m. We were unable to get the sale approved, and I drove back down to Ventura the next day to pick up my ring with Craig’s personal check.

(We purchased the wedding ring just before our wedding. After much deliberation and negotiation we went over budget for the ring pictured. As we drove away from that jewelry store Craig told me that I was worth it and was an “eight cow wife).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Mormon Message on Love



I had my students do a review of their concert on Friday. I asked them to answer the following 5 questions about themselves:

1) What did I do well?
2) What did we do well?
3) What do I want to do better?
4) What do we need to do better?
5) My favorite part of the concert was...

I'm in the middle of grading them now, and here are some of the more amusing responses:

In response to question #1:
  • "I showed up."
  • "I can't see me. I have no idea."
  • "Nothing I suck" (he came on stage to join his choir DURING the first song)
  • "I did everything good"
  • "I actually sang and liked it"
In response to question #2:
  • "We all sing on key (sorta) and we sang really well!"
In response to question #3:
  • "Wear something cuter. Different hair cut."
  • "Smile (be happier)"
  • "Again, no idea. I'm not a critic."
In response to question #4:
  • "idk we are amazing"
  • "Sing better not lousy"
In response to question #5:
  • "When it was over."
  • "Singing 'De Colores' and saying, 'quack, quack'"
  • "I loved 'Fireflies' but I got worried about that loud alto voice (me?)...[worried]"
  • "When ____ got in trouble and Miss Houston took his gum" (I can't tell you how many kids' favorite part was watching one of their classmates get in trouble. Sigh.)
  • "When we had breaks"

Friday, March 19, 2010

Come, Sing and be Joyful!

I had a concert last night with all my students. The biggest highlight for me was this special guest, all the way from Santa Barbara, California!

This was the first time my mom was able to come to one of my concerts since I started teaching at Dixon. I was so excited to have her there, along with my little sis.

These are my pre-student teachers. They are so great. They were my accompanists and have done a fabulous job working with the students this term.

Concert Lowlights:
  • Two minutes before the concert started, boys were revolting at having to wear little googly headbands with butterflies on them for our parody on T.V. songs. It was for the Jetsons segment and we couldn't find any masculine alien headbands, oddly enough.
  • A student told me to calm down when I got mad at him for a) lying to me about why he wasn't able to come to the concert and b) when his mom made him come to the concert after I called her and he was sullen and had to be coerced in to singing.
  • When my 7th graders didn't take me seriously about not chewing gum on stage, true to my word, I had to have a student spit out his gum in my hand on stage in front of the audience.
  • My 8th grade kids messing around in their seats on stage behind the performing choirs.
  • I had to accompany a couple songs and I stumbled my way through a spiritual one of my student teachers was conducting.
  • Two of my boys from concert choir showing up at about 6:45 after our first song because they were at baseball practice and told me they'd be able to be there by 6:00 p.m.

Concert Highlights:
  • My concert choir not falling apart on, "Come, Sing and Be Joyful". Truly a miracle.
  • The audience laughing at "The Jetsons" segment, despite the googly headbands.
  • The 7th graders (and me!) remembering the words on, "I bought me a cat."
  • The little tableau two of my seventh graders did on the part that says, "I got me a wife." One little guy came to the front of the stage and an equally little girl came and linked her arm through his. It was something we added in at the last second, but it was so cute.
  • My 7th graders being fabulous audience members.
  • My girls ensemble sounding like little angels. They worked so hard and it showed in their performance.
I love my job!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The funniest thing that's happened to me all week!

This morning, I was checking my work email and received an email back from a parent whom I had asked to help collect donations at my choir concert this evening. This is what it said:

Yes Ms. Houston that would be wonderful. I'll be there with bells on. Would you like me to come ready to practice with the Girls Ensemble, because from past listening experiences they might need my wonderful singing voice, the Concert Choir especially.

Before I was able to actually get offended, I read another email in my inbox from the same email address. This is what it said:

Sorry, Miss Houston, my lovely daughter was playing around and accidentally hit the send button. How embarrassing.
I can help but I can't be there until about 6:10, I have SEP's at school until 6:00 but I will hurry over right away.
Thanks for asking.

I laughed a lot after email number two. It explained the first email perfectly, because this person's daughter is in girls ensemble and there is always a bit of an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) rivalry between concert choir and girls ensemble. I could see my mom and I having a similar exchange, with me pretending to write something absurd and her trying to scold me but laughing too hard to make it effective. And then us both laughing when it accidentally got sent.

I know it sounds strange, but these are the little things that add up to make teaching so enjoyable!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bad Hair Day

One of my mission companions from Brazil saw my post about my student's comments on my bad hair last week. She sent me an email with a few pictures of what bad hair REALLY looks like. It was so funny I wanted to share it with all of you!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Estella said, "Yes!"

My Mother

My mom and dad met in their BYU singles ward. My parents were both 24 years old. My dad taught Sunday school and my mom was the pianist. Their meetings were held in the Eyring Science Center. Their bishop, Bishop Richard Heaps, was a young married man with young children. Today, he is my bishop and has grown, married children and grandchildren.

My dad likes to tell stories of how he kept asking my mom out and she kept turning him down. Once, she said her father was sick and she had to stay home to take care of him. My dad even once sent flowers to her while she was dating another boy. He was persistent in his pursuit and it finally paid off. They were married on December 15, 1978, 31 years ago.

The story of their engagement ring is a funny one. My grandfather and grandmother had divorced a few years before and my grandfather remarried a girl who was just a few years older than my mother. They had connections with a jeweler friend and decided to go along while my father and mother picked out a ring. My mom talks about how intimidating it was to go ring shopping with her future in-laws, and confesses that she didn't actually adore the ring she picked because she felt so much pressure to choose one they liked.

As fate would have it, an unfortunate accident occurred one day when I was little. The diamond fell out of my mom's engagement ring and was never recovered. We think it may have been vacuumed up. Several years went by and on their fifteenth wedding anniversary, my dad presented my mom with her dream ring (pictured below).

My dad does a lot of work with his hands and always hated wearing rings. He never wore a wedding ring. For their thirtieth wedding anniversary, however, he surprised my mom with another ring, this time for himself. My mom cried. She absolutely loves seeing him wear it! What a romantic thing to do, Dad!

Erma said, "Yes!"

My Grandmother

I never met my Nanny Erma. She died when my mother was around 21 or 22. But she is alive in all the delightful stories my mother tells about her. According to my mom, I inherited a lot of her qualities, like my love for performing and my smile.

My grandfather Joe was 4 years older than my Nanny. They went to the same high school in Spanish Fork and knew of each other, but were not well acquainted. My grandfather's parents immigrated here from Englad when his older siblings were young. When my grandfather was 25, he went to a dance where my grandmother was there, dancing with another young man named Howard. Apparently, my grandmother said something like, "Is that Joe Harwood?" and Howard told her not to pay any attention to him. As you may have guessed, she ignored his advice. They had 3 daughters (my mom, the youngest, came 10 years after the second!) and were married for nearly 40 years when Nanny died of a brain tumor.

As far back as I can remember, I have always known how much my mother loves and misses her mother. She talks about her with such fondness and admiration that I long to meet her someday. I have grown up treasuring the funny stories about my Nanny and singing some of the same songs she sang to my mother. I have felt her presence with me on my mission, even though we never met. I know she is aware of my life and loving me from a place that I can not yet visit.

When she died, my mother inherited her "cigar band" ring, as the style was called. It's unique because it sits flat against the finger, even though it has a diamond studded design. My dad had it restored as a gift to my mother a few years ago. My sister is going to wear it on her wedding day in July on her right hand ring finger in honor of our grandmother.


I love surprises, almost to a fault. I'm not very good at keeping them secret, but I do enjoy very much being a part of them when they actually happen.

My little sister, Anna, got in the high school spring musical as a freshman. It was very exciting for her. Being the youngest by several years, however, is sometimes a bummer because none of her siblings can usually attend her events. After our musical, Annie, was over, I really needed a day off. I decided to come out to see Anna's show as a surprise this weekend.

The hardest part was trying to figure out HOW to surprise her. My mom picked me up from the Long Beach airport and we drove in quite a bit of traffic home, not pulling in to Santa Barbara until about 10:00 p.m. My mom dropped me off at our house, then went to pick up Anna at her friend's house. My mom had told Anna she was taking a friend to the airport, which is why she was gone all evening. I stayed in the library until they got home. I then started playing a song that she loves, "The Luckiets," on the piano. It took her a few minutes to realize what was going on. At first, she thought her Ipod had started playing. Then, when she heard a girl's voice singing along, she thought maybe it was someone my dad was interviewing for church who decided to play the piano randomly . Finally, she looked at me parents and said, "Is that Katie?!" and came to see for herself. It was so fun and I've loved spending time with her and my parents. I love my little Annie so much!

Here are some of her highlights from the show. I could be biased, but she was by FAR the best dancer in the ensemble. She was on the stage for most of the show and was such a wonderful actress. That theater program has changed a LOT since I was there. What an incredible theater they have!

Anna said what surprised her most of all was that my mom was able to keep a secret. All of the Houston kids know exactly the look on our mom's face when she's trying to pull one over on us....but she did it! Go, Mom!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Emily said, "Yes!"

My friend from college and a fellow music teacher

One thing that makes this ring special to me is that it has a few quirks that make it unique from any other ring. We got to choose the center diamond together, and we had the jeweler change the setting slightly from the model, which makes the ring feel more personal to us. I love it's imperfections. Where the ring rises up on each side of the center diamond, one side is slightly higher than the other, and the setting of the center diamond is just barely tilted. I realize that these are marks of human error, but to me they represent the imperfections that Trevor and I bring to our marriage, and what a beautiful thing it is anyway.
I love my ring because it is uniquely mine, and it reminds me that I love my husband even when things aren't perfect.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Out of the mouths of big annoying babies

Today during first period, I was standing up in front of my class trying to get things started. One of my more outspoken and loud students said, "Ms. Houston! Did you wake up LATE today?!!" My jaw DROPPED to the floor. I turned to look at my pre-student teacher, and her face mirrored my own exactly. We were both shocked.

He proceeded to make more comments about how my hair looked messy and I had to be careful because my boyfriend might walk in the room at any second. (1. Who says that to their teacher? 2. What boyfriend? 3. At least I'm not late to class every day like he is). He said, "I want to hear the story." He thought there had to be some sort of good reason attached to the fact that my hair looked unacceptable. I had to inform him that there was no story, I apparently just looked awful. I guess sticking a flower in one's hair for good measure doesn't make a hairstyle cute, as much as I thought it did when I fixed it this morning.

Here's a picture of me and my hair today, so you can see for yourself. To be fair, I didn't spend that much time on my hair this morning. It was just a shocker to me because I honestly didn't think it looked bad when I came to school. His comment seemed out of left field (although, looking at the picture makes me think maybe it was mostly accurate).

But who says that to their teacher?!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Andrea said, "Yes!"

A friend from my Hampstead Ward

David & I just got married Feb 12, 2010 - Only 1 month ago! We met when I moved into a student ward in SLC. I was busy dating around and as David would say... he was just busily waiting for a good time to ask me out. Luckily he was friends with one of mine and she let him know when I became free :) On our first date he took me to Memory Grove Park in SLC and we walked, talked and had a Jamba Juice. It didn't take me long to realize what I was missing with every other man I dated... 4 months later David took me back to that spot and proposed with the ring! He had my cousin take me ring shopping nonchalantly and so I still wasn't sure if he'd get the one I liked, but he did. I love it because it has 3 stones which to me 3 can mean tons. But mostly it's "I love you" in our eyes. I had him pick out his and he chose one that will never ruin - I wish mine was like that! Girls rings seem so breakable etc. Well, we've only been married one month, but it has been the best time ever... I feel so lucky and blessed.

The MANY reasons I love my roommate!

Happy Birthday, Many!

1. She is spunky
2. She is smart
3. She is full of faith
4. She appreciates and owns fun shoes
5. She is always up for an adventure
6. She's reliable
7. She's responsible
8. She likes mystery T.V. series like Bones, House, and Law and Order
9. She loves to read
10. She is good at keeping perspective
11. She's an amazing pianist
12. She is a phenomenal teacher
13. She likes roommate time
14. She is a fantastic cook
15. She loves choir!
16. She understands the value of a pedicure/manicure
17. She knows just what to say in text messages
18. She gives really good dating advice
19. She has a genuine laugh that makes you feel really funny when you are the one to cause it!
20. She has lofty ambitions
21. She likes to travel
22. She isn't afraid to admit that kissing is fun
23. She has a wonderful relationship with her family, especially her mom
24. She makes the best chocolate chip cookies in all of Utah
25. She's always willing to help if you need her
26. She has favorites when she's not supposed to
27. She thinks rabbits are beautiful

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Teacher Wears Many Hats


This is Becca and me on the second night of our school musical, in the "green room" (aka my classroom). The process of putting together the musical, Annie, was a joint effort. Becca directed the show and did costumes and props. I was the music director. My little sister, Christina, did the choreography and I helped her teach it. Becca and I produced the show together. It was a lot of work, but all three of us learned a ton and had really positive experiences. And, I loved working with my sister!!

One little crisis: Becca slipped and fell and dislocated her knee cap on opening night! But she still came on time, ready to work. She is a champ! (And, getting married in three weeks!)

Sound Technician

A favorite part of the Annie experience for me was getting to work with students up in the tech booth. I helped run sound and it was incredibly cool. I feel like I missed my calling in life. Why did I ever want to be ON stage?! I should have been a techie!

Roller Skater Extraordinaire

Someone has to show the 8th graders who's boss...


It's possible that while on duty as a chaperone at Classic Skating, I flirted with one of the young bus drivers and we added each other as friends on facebook, provoking shouts of, "Ms. Houston has a boyfriend!!" All in a day's work.