Friday, April 29, 2011

Favorite present from a student EVER.

I'm putting M&M's in when the jelly beans run out.

All my little chicks love coming in my office and getting one.

Monday, April 25, 2011

He is not here, for He is risen!

Jeremy's family is really so sweet to invite me to their family events since my family is so far away.

Here I am with Sis in our accidentally matching Easter shirts (and crocheted flowers, made by the girl on the left) at Grandma and Grandpa Barton's house for Easter dinner. They are such sweet people and were so good to me.

This is Jeremy and his mom! Dianna and Bryan gave me a beautiful book for Easter that I can save always and share with my future family. It's about the last week of the Savior's life. What a treasure!

If you look closely, you can see one of my little egg party favors at Christina's place.

After dinner, Grandpa Barton (who sealed Tina and Jer) gathered his family around (2 of his daughters, 1 of his sons, and their families) and expressed his gratitude that they were sealed together as a family. He told them how much he wanted to be with them in heaven someday. He pledged to do his best and he also told them they had to promise to do their part to be there, too. I loved hearing his words because they reflected the immense love he has for each of his children, grandchildren, and their spouses. It reminded me of Lehi talking to his posterity, each of whom he loved and prayed for and hoped for their eternal salvation.

Next, we had an Easter message about the Savior by Dianna. She used plastic eggs but had scriptures inside as well as little objects representing different parts of the Savior's death and resurrection. For example, one egg had 3 dimes in it representing the 30 pieces of silver Judas got for betraying the Savior, along with a scripture about it. Another egg had a tiny square of linen cloth representing what the Savior's body was wrapped in. The idea was awesome! I am excited to try it someday with my own family.

And last but not least...

...check out this strawberry shortcake dessert. Heaven. I'm in heaven. And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak. Thanks Dianna! Truly a work of art!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Egg"cellent (Pun intended)

I made these little eggs with stuff I already had (scrapbook paper, plastic Easter eggs from my holiday box, flower cut outs, a stapler, and hot glue). I had to borrow a few rhinestones from Tina when mine ran out (it's great having a sister in ballroom) and some candy from Sylvia, but it turned out to be a really fun and cheap craft. We're putting one at each place at Easter dinner at Jer's grandparent's home.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Today, we had a relief society activity at my apartment. We had popcorn and soda and watched Ramona and Beezus.

I can't believe I got this far in my life without having ever seen that movie. I bawled. It was embarrassing. I don't think it's typically a crying kind of movie, but it just struck a tender chord in my heart.

As I pondered why on earth that movie hit me so hard, I made the following connections:

  • In the movie, Beezus (15) and Ramona (9) get their own rooms. Beezus makes a big deal about Ramona not entering her territory. Later in the movie, the sisters learn they have to move because their dad is going to start a new job. They both can't sleep. Ramona knocks on Beezus' door and stands in the doorway. Beezus, the older sister, says, "Ramona? Will you sleep in here with me tonight?" Ramona climbs in the bed with her sissy. Beezus and Ramona are 6 years apart. Tina and I are 4 and a half years apart and Tina and Anna are 6 years apart. That little scene hit so close to home as I realized how much my sisters mean to me. Of all my friends, they are the ones I long to be with when life becomes uncertain. Out here in Utah so far away from my parents, I, the big sister, drive over to my little sister's house when I feel despair and need a shoulder to cry on. There are also three Quimby sisters: Roberta, Ramona, and Beezus. They just need a big brother and then they would have the perfect family :-).

  • I am such a sucker for romance. I bask in it, even in movies that are only pretend. In the movie, Beezus' single aunt (who is my age), reunites with her high school sweetheart who, of course, has spent the last ten years traveling the world but has never been able to forget her. She resists with all her might but he persuades her to love him again. He wants her to move with him to Alaska for two years, but she tells him she needs more of a committment than that. In an odd plot twist, he finds the box he buried of all their memories which he carefully saved from high school. In this box was the plastic ring he gave her for her sweet 16 birthday, and he proposes to her on bended knee in the middle of sprinklers in the backyard. And that made me cry (?!). Maybe, in part, because they were both 28 and found love in a more permanent sense after they both spent ten years growing and figuring out who they were. It takes some of us a little longer, but I hear it's worth the wait!

  • Last, but probably most importantly, I realized that I resonate with Ramona in so many ways. My sister even said my latest haircut reminded her of Ramona's hair :-). Ramona says many things that aren't intended to be funny, but, to her chagrin, everyone laughs. I can definitely relate to that. She gets up in front of class and gives unique presentations that sometimes leave her classmates a little baffled. This reminded me of the time I did my state presentation in fourth grade on Tennessee and came running in to the classroom dressed as Elvis (complete with a wig), holding a blow-up guitar and singing, "You ain't nothing but a hound dog." Ramona has the best of intentions always, but more often than not, she unintentionally undermines the good she is trying to do. She often ends up creating a worse mess than when she started. I have definitely found myself in that situation many times, especially when it comes to matchmaking and dating. Last, but perhaps most significantly, Ramona has a difficult time with change. She wants to hold on to things as they are and will do anything to preserve the relationships and memories she holds dear. In the movie, her dad loses his job and things start to change. She struggles to figure out her place in this altered life. I, like Ramona, struggle a lot with change. I can't say goodbye and often avoid it like the plague, even when I know I shouldn't. I like to have an address that I can call my own and my family nearby. Moving on is very difficult. Starting over is very uncomfortable for me. Right now, like Ramona Quimby, 9 years old, I find myself in the midst of change and uncertainty and I'm struggling to come to terms with the new position I must assume in my own life. I don't particularly know where the road will lead right now, but I do know that at the heart of it all, I have a family who loves me desperately, no matter where I go in life. Ramona comes to that same conclusion when she tries to run away from home and her whole family comes to pick her up at the bus stop, ready with open arms to embrace her.
This post was obviously more for me than for anyone else. There are more connections, but I'll spare you, gentle audience, the rest of the parallels for now. But I'm grateful to that sweet little movie for reminding me to accept and love myself for all the crazy things that comprise who I am. Sometimes I'm too critical of my blunders; however, I loved little Ramona so much as I watched the movie. In fact, I liked her the very best of all. So that must mean the same kind of divine worth I saw in her character lies in me, too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lead Me, Guide Me

As a teacher, I am just as much of a little child as my students are. I depend on Heavenly Father to mold me and shape me into someone who can be useful in His service. I make mistakes; I get frustrated; sometimes I cry when things don't go my way. Today, a student said to me, "Why do you always have a smile on your face when class starts and at the end of class, you're not smiling anymore?" Great. But let's look at the bright side: at least I always start class with a smile!

Here are some excerpts from a "Sing to Serve" paper I got back from one of my 12 year old boys this week. This piece of paper with smeared ink is a tangible reminder to me of why I love teaching so much.

I used music to help someone by singing to my mom. I got my brothers up in front of the living room with me and sang "I Am a Child of God." My mom has been going through hard times because my brothers and I have been fighting a lot lately. My mom things that she just can't take it anymore. So that must have felt good to have us sing to her as a trio. While we were singing, I felt like I wanted to sing forever to her. She looked so happy. That was the happiest I've seen her in a long time. I was as confident as could be up there. I wanted to sing to my mom forever. I was extremely sad when the song ended. I wanted to keep singing forever. My mom started to get really emotional when we were singing. She started smiling and when we were done, she gave all of us hugs. I knew that she had loved it. [Skip to End] I hope that my brothers felt the same way that I was thinking. I know that music is very important in my life. My whole family is involved in music. Even my grandma is in a choir for the church! I know that one day, music will help me again. I hope that it is soon! I love music. The good kind anyway. I think my choir teacher, Ms. Houston, is really helping me bond with music. Sure some of the songs we sing are boring, but I think that she is trying really hard to help all of her students succeed and learn the art of music. I am going to remember this for a long time. I am going to do it all the time. Singing to help people makes you a hero in your own way. I am going to be the best person I can be through music. I love serving people with my musical talent.

And that paper made the whole year worth it. Please forgive the parts that seemed self indulgent; I only shared them, too, because of his unfailing honesty about how the music I choose is boring. Loved that part. Also, because I can't believe that someone actually got what I've been trying to do. He recognizes the intent of my heart.

What a precious miracle in my life.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Bug's Life: The Diary of an Aunt, Installment 6

Dear Diary,

I miss my sweet baby niece so much. I can't even think about it for too long because it's too hard. I'm not kidding.

Yup, you guessed it...I'm back in P-Town and gearing up for another school week. This morning, however, was one of my favorite parts of my trip because I didn't leave until 1:00 p.m. and I got to spend the whole morning with the entire little family. We were all rested and the day was beautiful and we got to enjoy being together.

My favorite thing of all was one-on-one morning time with baby E in my room. She is so loveable. She smiles and is very interested in things around her. She loves being close to people and interacting with them. I took lots of videos which I'll go through and post one later!

I had the privilege of dressing the baby for our family outing. I was torn between the pretty purple dress and the onesie with the "Mom" tattoo. So, we went with both. Shana added booties with red yarn to match the tat.

After we spent a lazy morning with the baby and getting ready, we all went to a little bakery for breakfast and we got to sit outside and eat. This was one of the few times Ella had ever been out in public. She is finally strong enough to go for short periods of time. It was so, so wonderful!

As some of you may remember, I had some unfinished business to attend to before I could leave: Operation Sea Creatures.

Well, the family grew to 12 so I'd have enough to string along the entire crib. Joe and Shana love it! (No, really...they do. They said they did...that means they do. Right?)

After I landed back in SLC, Joe told me that he and Shana named each one after members of both sides of the family. I felt so honored. The red one with the yellow swirls (far right in picture below) was named for me.

Thanks, Grandma Carolyn, for the Ella name plaque that now sits in the windowsill!

We realized we didn't have any pictures of Joe and me. Since we ARE brother and sister, we thought that might be nice! So, we had an impromptu photo shoot in their beautiful yard while the baby was napping. We laughed a lot! I love my family.

This is Joe yelling in my ear. It's possible I did it to him right before.

Shana moonlights as an Olympic gymnast. Check out the near splits in the air, complete with a pointed toe! Wahoo!

These two are such wonderful parents and make such a beautiful pair. They treat each other with love, concern, and respect. They are always looking for ways to serve one another. I love them very much!

I'll be counting the days until I can see them all again! Even you, Miss Roxy, you sweet girl!



Friday, April 15, 2011

A Bug's Life: The Diary of an Aunt, Installment 5

Dear Diary,

Today was so much fun! I went back to school!

But without any of the stress and responsibility. I got to go with Shana and her students to her middle school choir festival.

But first, Ella and I had to get some shots of ourselves together.

..and I had to figure out a purpose for my shell underwater creatures. This is a work in progress, mind you. There will be more to be seen in tomorrow's post!

Then, Ella stayed with her sweet babysitter while Shana and I headed to her middle school for one last rehearsal with her top girl's group (she even let me do warm-ups!)...

...and then we headed to their festival.

Shana has an assistant director named Diana. In Shana's district, if the choir program is above a certain number, they hire two directors. Sweet! These two work so well together! They are an extremely talented team and very good friends. They direct their groups together and make a dynamic duo. It's obvious their students love them.

Their top choir was full of the sweetest girls. It was a joy to watch them perform! Here they are celebrating a wonderful performance.

And here are their directors after they found out they got sweepstakes! That means they scored ones (superiors) overall on both their performance scores and their sight-reading scores. A huge honor!

And here I am, the president of their fan club! Shana was so sweet to let me celebrate this success with them and their students.

This was my second job-shadow of the week and it was so fun! I learned so many awesome things by watching Shana's group practice and perform. It was amazing! I was worried that I might be bored, since spring break is supposed to be about no school. But it was such a vacation to not be the one in charge at the festival that I think it helped me appreciate spring break even more!

Thanks for all you teach me, Shana!