Thursday, July 28, 2011

Time Capsule Reunion

Last summer, Melissa, Kate, Tessa and I parted ways after being roommates for a blissful year. Melissa went to graduate school in Seattle; Kate moved to Springville and got married; Tessa moved to Cheyenne and got married; and I remained in Provo and started my third year of teaching middle school. We put together a time capsule to be opened one year later. We wanted a legitimate excuse to get together annually.

We started the evening at Magelby's, our favorite restaurant when we were roommates. We always look forward to the rolls at the beginning and the chocolate cake at the end!

We went around the table and each shared our joys and hardships. What a wonderful feeling to have dear friends!

Then, we went back to Kate's house and opened our time capsule. We had each put in an item a year ago.
Tessa put in "the perfect man."

Kate put in shells from our California spring break trip.

Many put in her autographed ticket from the American Idol concert we went to as roommates.

I put in a flower we made from our Christmas celebration day, "12 for 12."

Then, we read the predictions we all made for each other one year ago. There were a few things that came to pass as we predicted, and many that didn't. (I didn't, for example, break two toes tubing down the Provo river as Tessa guessed I would). But we got a lot of good laughs!

We also enclosed a list of all our memories together as roommates. When we read, "Tea and cookies at Kindred spirits B&B," we literally felt physical pain because it is a moment we can't have back again!

Of course we then had to go back and watch all our videos from Prince Edward Island on Kate's computer.
We are in the process of writing our predictions for each other for next year. Those will go back in the time capsule and it will be sealed up until next summer! We plan to continue this tradition for our entire lives!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Deposit of Faith

My blog has become a life journal for me. The following story about my experiences this summer is written in gratitude to the Lord for showing me how much greater His vision is than my own and teaching me to trust in Him always.

Toward the end of the school year last year, I started feeling like a change was needed in my life. I wasn't sure what shape this change would take; I only knew that I was blindly seeking something and not finding answers on my own.

I took my restlessness to the Lord and I felt strongly that I needed to look for opportunities outside of where I currently live. The Lord also revealed to me personal things about why this would be healthy for me, which opened my eyes to things about myself I hadn't before understood. It was an amazing experience.

Those feelings were the go-ahead I needed to begin searching for jobs and housing options in different cities and different states. Also, for the first time ever, I felt confident enough in my profession to start considering high school positions. I applied to several jobs and went through job interviews for three different schools only to come up empty handed. I began feeling discouraged. I thought for sure I knew what the Lord wanted for me and I was trying to do as He asked. Why was I not successful?

After receiving a rejection from one of the high schools I particularly wanted to work at, I found myself at my bishop's office on a Tuesday night without an appointment. I wanted a blessing and some counsel. It was a very special meeting for me. The bishop listened with compassion to my fears and struggles in both the professional and social parts of my life. He validated the choice I'd made to seek a new place to live and work.

Frustrated at having no direction with summer quickly approaching, I determined I was going to go ahead with my life, stay at Dixon for another year, and buy a condo. I dreamed of living in a place where I'd have my own little kitchen and a place for my piano. I wanted to know which dishes were mine and start learning how to cook. I got a Realtor and began looking at properties at the beginning of summer. I saw several things in nearby cities and even decided to make an offer on one of the homes I saw. The day after I put the offer in was a fast Sunday. I decided to fast about my choice to buy a home. I told Heavenly Father in prayer that just as I'd learned I was supposed to do, I'd made a choice and was putting it before the Lord to make sure it was acceptable. I wanted Him to let me know if I was going in a wrong direction.

The next day, I decided to call my sister-in-law. I didn't have a particular reason, except to talk about how cute my niece is and how much I love her. (I feel very indebted to Joe and Shana for Ella.) I found myself pouring out my housing concerns to Shana. We had an awesome talk. Shana cautioned me not to jump in to buying a house in order to solve other feelings. She said from what she perceived, I wanted my own space and independence. She suggested there were many ways I could fulfill this need without taking the risk of buying a house when I don't know whether or not I'll be staying in Utah for the next five years and I'm unsure as to whether or not I'll be able to rent it for the mortgage price in this kind of market.

Basically, she said many things my dad had mentioned to me before; however, it took a talk from my sister-in-law for me to listen. I wanted to prove to my parents I was a big girl and could make it work, despite their hesitancy. The Lord used Shana in response to my prayer as I fasted the day before . All of a sudden, I couldn't remember why I wanted to buy my own place so badly. It occurred to me that this was the stupor of thought the Lord promises in the Doctrine and Covenants when we ask if what we are doing is right.

Still homeless, I decided to start looking for single person single basement apartments to rent on I looked at several places over a couple days and nothing was quite right. I met lots of lovely people, but prices were high and locations weren't ideal. I went on my church history trip without any options. Nothing seemed to be falling in to place.

When I got home at the beginning of July with school a month and a half away, I decided to dive back in to house hunting right away. I spent almost 2 hours online scouring the ads for apartments. Finally, something caught my eye. A single older woman was looking for a single female to rent her basement apartment. I went right out to see it and fell in love on the spot. I filled out a rental application and the owner called my references. The next day, she delivered the good news that the apartment was mine. I was thrilled.

In the back of my mind, I still ha the nagging thought that this plan of mine didn't quite match up with what I thought the Lord wanted me to do. I figured, however, that I'd done everything I could to get a new job. I needed to just continue forward.

The sweet owner asked me to pay a $500 deposit to secure my position so she could take the ad offline. I happily did so on July 7th, the day after she said I got the apartment. She originally said it would be available July 19th and I could sign a contract when I moved in that day. The next time I spoke to her, however, plans had changed slightly and I needed to move July 26th instead. This wasn't a big deal; in fact, it gave me more time to do fun summer activities with my roommates.

On July 13th, I received an email from my former professor of choral education at BYU. This is what it said:

Dear friends,

I'm just sending this message to everyone I could think of who may be interested. I've just heard that [blank] High School, in Salt Lake, has an opening for Choir Teacher.

Hope all is well,

Dr. B

This was my reply:

Dr. B,

I can't believe I'm doing this (because I just put down a huge deposit on an apartment in and school starts in a couple weeks and I can't believe I'm considering leaving Dixon at this short notice!!), but do you think you could write me a letter of recommendation for this high school job? I don't know why I feel so propelled forward on this, but I can't not apply for some reason, even though I don't think that means I'll get it. I just need to know I tried, I guess. I know this is SUPER last minute for you and I understand if you can't. Let me know. I'd need it by Tuesday.


The same day I heard about the job, I sent my resume and letter of interest to the administration at the high school. I wasn't convinced I actually wanted it; however, I couldn't ignore the fact that this could be what Heavenly Father had been trying to guide me to all along. I knew that accepting the job meant I'd lose a $500 deposit, I'd have to leave my dear colleagues and students at Dixon, and I couldn't have the little basement apartment of my dreams. I also knew it meant I'd have to return the couch I'd just bought for my unfurnished apartment, I'd have to tell the new bishop I'd just met that I would no longer be in their ward, I'd have to figure out how to teach high school, and I'd have only a couple weeks to prepare and get used to the idea. But I couldn't turn my back on it. I had to know that I at least tried to explore every opportunity that the Lord had potentially put in my path. If I didn't get the position, I would know that staying at Dixon was right for the time being.

The next morning, I got a call from the principal telling me he was interested in my resume. He asked me to fill out the district application so they would be able to interview me. I told him I'd start the process right away. The next day he called and scheduled an interview in good faith that I'd follow through with the district red tape. He told me a little about the school and I started getting a little excited. He mentioned their goal to integrate more of their ethnic population into the choral program, which is something that was very important to me at Dixon

I had to scramble to complete an application, get a copy of my teaching license, get a copy of my transcripts, a copy of my Praxis test scores, and three letters of recommendation up to the district office in about four days. I have some amazing mentors and friends who were willing to help me so I could get it all in by Thursday, July 21st, the day of my interview. In the week leading up to the interview, I had severe anxiety. My stomach was constantly in pain and I agonized over the possibility of changing my life so dramatically. I remember feeling like even applying for this job had to be one of the hardest decisions I'd ever made.

Thursday morning came and I interviewed. The more we talked, the more I wanted the job and the less sure I was that I would get it. I left the interview totally unsure of what they thought of me as a potential educator at their school. They said they'd let me know by Monday, July 25th, the day before I was to sign my lease for the new apartment and start moving in.

Thankfully, they made their decision sooner and offered me the job by 3:00 p.m. that day. After I accepted the position and hung up, a feeling of peace came over me that I'd made the right choice. Even saying I'd do it, I hadn't felt 100% confident.

From that moment forward, the Lord blessed me in all the hard things I had to do. After calling my parents, I called my vice-principal and he was so supportive. I cried. Then, before sending an email to my colleagues, I called my friend and mentor, Christy (the band teacher at Dixon), and cried some more. She was nothing but supportive as well. My colleagues responded with congratulations and excitement for a new opportunity. I was afraid people would resent me for bailing out so close to the beginning of the school year. I thought they would accuse me of giving up on middle school because I'd had a difficult year. But they were nothing but kind to me and that, too, made me cry.

I knew in my heart the Lord wanted me to do this and that I wasn't giving up on Dixon. I loved my students and time at that school more than I could ever imagine possible. It is sacred ground for me.

When I called the woman who was to have been my landlord, she was so incredibly understanding, even though I was inconveniencing her greatly. I knew she'd need to keep the deposit so as not to lose money for the weeks her apartment would stay empty. I offered to pay the full month's rent for August while she looked for another tenant, but she said that wasn't necessary. She was so kind and I couldn't have asked for a more gracious landlady.

I was talking to a friend today about how one of the things I lost in this process was my $500 deposit on the apartment. But I realized that I don't really even want the money back because it represents something very precious to me. Applying for this job knowing I would have to give up some hard earned cash, students I loved, and association with dear friends and co-workers was a big step of faith for me. It was a step I wasn't sure I was even capable of making. Through this small step of faith, I was able to show Father in Heaven that His will was more important than money or comfort. Without Him, I would never have found the courage to apply. He guided me through every single step.

In return for my small act of faith, He blessed me double or triple what I could have received had I ignored the job opening. He provided me a place to live within hours of accepting the job. My former roommate, Celeste, owns a condo and has plenty of space for a roommate. She happens to live 11 miles from my new school. The rent I'll be paying is less than half what I would have paid at the other apartment. Celeste will be a huge support for me as I learn my way around a new city and seek to make new friends. I hope I can be of help to her as well, more than just helping her pay her mortgage. She is not asking me to sign a contract, so if I want to find my own place later in the year like I dreamed of before, I can. But I have a feeling we might have too much fun for me to want to leave anytime soon!

I wrote this today as a testimony that I know God lives and is extremely aware of me and my life, as He is aware of the lives of each one of His children here on earth. I know that in the coming weeks and months of this new adventure, He will qualify me for this job that right now seems impossible for me to do, despite how exciting it sounds. But I've learned a lot over the past few months about His capacity to lead me where I need to go.

Although it's hard for me not to, I don't have to worry when He's in charge.

My only desire now is that my students at Dixon will receive a wonderful teacher who will love them as much as I do. I was imperfect on a daily basis, but I did truly love those kids. It seems already that the Lord is preparing this too...further emphasizing to me His involvement in the lives of all of His children.

I'll keep you posted :-).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Announcement, Take 2

  1. I am quitting my job
  2. I am giving up my basement apartment
  3. I am moving even farther away than I was before
  4. I am moving in with my former roommate, Celeste
  5. I am teaching high school choir
  6. I am missing Dixon already
  7. I am overwhelmed
  8. I am excited
  9. I am grateful
  10. I feel peace!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Very Harry Birthday

Our Travis turned 28 yesterday. It happened to be the opening day of the final Harry Potter movie. What a lucky guy.

A few of our group decided to get dressed up for the occasion.

Professor Trelawney

The Dark Mark

Harry Potter

We celebrated our jolly good fellow before the movie at the restaurant Goodwood.

There were presents (Travis is a great present opener)...

...and homemade wrapping paper.

The movie was fabulous, except for a row of "mean girls" who harassed my roommate and me when we sat in seats they vacated but later came back to.

The seating situation for a long awaited Harry Potter film in a packed theater brings out the best in no one, including me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Temple Trips 7 & 8

For our next temple trip adventures, Celeste and I brought along dear Sylvia and headed down south.

Friday morning, we did a session in the incredibly beautiful Manti temple. I decided that if I had a choice, I would want to make this temple my home on earth during the millennium. We were captivated by the art work and loved the experience of being there.

That night, we had tickets to see The Little Mermaid at the Tuacahn outdoor theater in St. George. I was SO EXCITED. I've never been before and heard such amazing things about it!

Here is how we felt when we got there:

St. George is seriously sooooo beautiful!

Here is how we felt less than half way through when a huge thunder and lightening storm rained us out of the theater for the night.

The picture below isn't a totally accurate reflection of Sylvia's feelings, as later she confessed that the amazing thunder and lightening show was the highlight of the trip for her! Ha ha ha...she was feeling sympathy on my behalf in this shot:

I was so upset that our Mermaid experience was cut short! But I'm going back. The costumes and water effects were SO. COOL. The thunder created a very exciting natural effect for the storm scene when Prince Eric falls in the water, just before they called off the show. It was pretty cool, as much as I wish it hadn't happened exactly the way it did.

We went to Nielson's custard afterward to drown our sorrows and it was deeeeelicious (despite the fact that they only accept cash or check and they are frustrating).

One of the best parts of our trip was getting to stay with Celeste's sister and her family. What wonderful people! They have two beautiful little children. We had a BLAST playing with them! They fed us biscuits and gravy (soooo good) for dinner that night. The next day, we feasted on whole wheat pancakes for breakfast and later, tostadas for lunch. I felt like a queen.

They have membership to a pool and we got to go swimming. But first, Celeste led us in 40 minutes of Zumba in her sister's living room. She teaches aerobics classes as part of her job as a fitness coordinator at a big company. That girl is like the energizer bunny! Sylvia and I were sprawled on the floor by the time our 40 minutes were up (after I begged Celeste to stop and she tricked us in to two more "cool down" songs). This was a trip highlight for me. It was so fun pretending like we knew how to Latin dance with no one around to see how bad we were.

Then, it was off to the pool! We were entertained by a group of guys, probably in their late twenties but all buddies from college, playing the toothpick game and shoving each other in the pool. A toothpick is hidden in the water and you have one chance to jump in and get it. If you don't capture it before you have to come up for air, you have to get out of the pool and try again. The point is to be the first to get it. There was a lot of laughter both from the participants and the audience! :-)

The kids sure do love Aunt Celeste!

On our way out of town, we went to the St. George temple and performed sealings. It was a beautiful experience. I am so grateful for the temples where we can help join families together eternally. I can't think of a more beautiful work.

On the drive back home, we played the game where you decide whose relationship the next song on the radio is going to talk about before you know what it is (ex: "This next song is about me and Mr. so and so" except you use the name of someone you have a crush on). This entertained us for a little too long!

Thanks girls, for such a fun road trip!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

And I was like, "Baby, baby, baby!"

Christina has started crocheting baby shoes. Just when I think she can't make anything cuter...she does.

If you are a friend of mine having a baby in the near future, you can pretty much count on getting one of these adorable creations from yours truly (I'm determined to be my sister's best customer):

Now she has shoes for both genders!

And Tina has a precious baby model to present her hats and headbands:

If you're interested in ordering any of these cute things, visit Tina's Etsy shop. Or, you can email her directly at Her prices range from about $4-$18. So reasonable for the huge amount of time she spends!

Also, if you'd be interested in featuring any of Christina's creations on your blog, please leave a comment with your email address and I will send over some pictures that you can use! Or, even just posting a link to her etsy shop would be awesome. As you can tell, I'm a shamelessly proud older sister who wants the world to know how talented her baby sis is!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Did the title of this post freak you all out, just a little bit?

Let me assure you of the things I'm not announcing first:
  • I'm not engaged
  • Did not get a boyfriend
  • Not going back to school...yet
  • Not quitting my job
I AM, however...
  • Moving to a different little city and commuting to Provo for work
  • Renting my very own basement apartment in the home of a very kind woman
  • Buying a bed for the first time ever
It's now official. The deposit has been paid! I've loved the time I've lived at my current complex, but the time for a change has come.

Can't wait for this new adventure!!

To those who love Chick Flicks

PLEASE watch the following movie, free on Hulu:

"My Girlfriend's Boyfriend" starring Alyssa Milano. It was one of the cutest movies I have ever seen. In my life. Ever. And, it was totally wholesome! Those kinds of movies are hard to find.

Seriously love, love, LOVE this movie.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Different Bag of Tricks

My mom always says she uses a different bag of tricks for each child. I feel like it's the same way for people who are trying to lose weight. No weight-loss program works universally. I've learned I really have to find what works best for me and run with it. What works for other people doesn't always suit me, but I can take a piece of their ideas and incorporate it into my own plan.

For some who have read my blog for the past couple years, you may recall this post. It seems as though I forgot all about that goal and never followed through, doesn't it?

Not so.

Okay, maybe it is so. But I didn't forget it forever. I'm back on track and more determined than ever to reach my goal. I've collected some tricks in my metaphorical weight loss bag that have really worked for me. I don't think it's a one size fits all kind of thing that will work for everyone; however, if even one person can get one idea, it will be worth exposing my perpetual battles with food.

Katie's Bag of Tricks
(that work for her...and maybe one or two might work for someone else, too)

1) Replace soda and juice with water

This really is something very simple that doesn't feel like a huge sacrifice. Water is good for your body, so not only does this trick help cut excess calories from your diet, it helps you become more healthy.

2) Power walk with friends

I'm a talker, so power walking is perfect because I can catch up with my sister or dad or friends while getting some good exercise. Today, my sister and I wanted to go look at some clothes, so we walked to the store which was just over 2 miles. Afterward, we walked to Jamba Juice where they were having buy one get one free smoothies. Then, we walked back to my house.

3) Keep a journal of food consumed each day and amount of exercise done

I've been doing this now for just over 4 weeks. My goal is to keep it regularly for 12 weeks. It has helped me become much more informed about what I am eating, as I've chosen to track my calories as well. As I look up the caloric values for certain foods, it helps me make better decisions in the future. Hopefully by the end of 12 weeks, I'll be educated about how much I can eat of what.

4) Try cooking light recipes

I've had the chance to sample and even cook some recipes with my sisters and friends from fat free or cooking light cookbooks. I've been amazed at the quality of food one can produce by making easy changes (turkey sausage instead of beef, for example).

5) It's not called a diet-- it's a life style change or health and fitness program or anything BUT a diet!

Just hearing the word diet makes me ill. I hate everything it implies. To me, it is synonymous with restriction and misery and it's temporary. Thinking of it as a healthy lifestyle change makes me feel good about what I'm doing, not embarrassed that I have excess pounds on that I want to get rid of.

6) Reduce portion sizes

I like this one because it allows me to eat the things I love without feeling guilty. For example, HAVE chocolate cake with ice-cream that everyone is sharing at a restaurant...just have a couple of spoonfuls instead of working on it until it's all gone. HAVE an ice-cream treat with friends...just trade a huge Oreo cookie shake for a plain vanilla cone. Have firsts of everything you want; just don't have seconds. Your body will adjust to the point where you won't be hungry for more after a few weeks. Don't starve yourself; eat until you're satisfied. We are satisfied a lot sooner than we quit eating because we love how food tastes. There is a whole book about this idea of intuitive eating. I think it's a wonderfully healthy concept that I've tried to incorporate into my life.

7) Smoothies are very filling

My sister has been making green smoothies lately with fruits and vegetables mixed together. They're good and very filling! It's difficult to taste the vegetables. They also help reduce digestive problems and migraines, which is why my mom initially suggested them to us. Tina mentioned that her desire for sweets has also reduced significantly.

Costco also sells healthy yogurt smoothie mixes. They are delicious and very quick and easy. You mix the frozen packet with milk and then you've got yourself a nice lunch. I've been stopping by Jamba Juice a couple times a week and ordering one of their lite smoothies which, quite frankly, taste the same to me as the high calorie ones. They are great for a light lunch or breakfast.

8) Let go of anything that isn't really important to you (so you CAN have the stuff that IS important to you!)

Candy from an M&M bowl at a bridal shower? Not important. Peach cobbler with ice-cream at a place that's famous for it? Very important. So, I sacrifice the little things throughout the week (like treats where I wasn't expecting them) so that when something like the famous peach cobbler crosses my path, I can have some without feeling guilty.

9) Find healthy snacks that YOU think taste good!

Why should we suffer while eating healthy? If you don't like a particular healthy snack, don't eat it. Today, I tried something that made me want to gag. I decided I'd never eat that again, but I found something equally healthy that I DO like. A few snacks I've found that taste good to me are almonds, special K 100 calorie bars, and salad with fat free dressing.

10) Find a low-calorie treat that quenches your desire for sweets

This sounds dumb, but almost every day I really crave a taste of sugar. I don't need a lot, but I hate feeling like I can't have it all the time. I found that fruit flavored tic tacs do the trick. Each one is less than 2 calories. I'll pop 2 or 3 in my mouth and I'm good for hours.

Okay, that's about it for today. As I continue discovering what works best for me, I may add a few tricks here and there to the ole' blog. If YOU have any that work for you, PLEASE leave them for me in the comments! I'd love some new ideas.

Celebrating the Land of the Free

Our dad headed up an amazing little BBQ for the 4th.

Tina and Jer went to Cocoa Bean to get cupcakes for dessert. GREAT choice! They got 6 kinds for us to share and they were incredible.

Check out the red velvet cake cupcake below that we cut to share. It had cream cheese frosting. TDF!!

My cute little sisters made us all accessories for the fourth of July. Above is the pin they created for my mom!

How cute is this little bug?!

Anna bought a 4th t-shirt for $6 and then cut and tied the sides to make it ultra fashionable. So cute! And isn't her hair long?!

We Houstons love to play games together. We started with Beyond Balderdash. Christina was the first "dasher."

Oh, and she was the winner. Which means she is the best liar ;-).

I met up for fireworks in P.G. with ward friends. It was so fun.

It did rain, so it's a good thing Lane brought his umbrella. Smart man.