Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Which way is up?

Today I got lost on my way home from work.

I have scoured the Internet trying to find some rationalization for my propensity to 1) get lost, 2) not remember how to get somewhere even after going there several times, 3) Not remember which direction I came in a building or hallway when I go back out, 4) struggle at times between my right and left, 5) go only one way everywhere, and 6) have a killer time trying to identify north, south, east, and west.

After the research I've done, I'm pretty sure I have Developmental Topographical Disorientation. It is real. And I'm convinced it's genetic, as the only people I know who struggle with directions as much as I do are related to me. I can't tell you what a relief it was to get online and discover there are people out there who have the same issues I do. I often feel like I was born stupid when I have to call my dad at 6 a.m. in California to help me get to the freeway in Utah.

I know there are nay-sayers out there who are convinced directionless people such as myself just don't try hard enough. But I really think (and some of the reading I've done supports this) there are some who begin life developmentally with a significant deficit in this area and have to work harder than others to figure out how to get from here to there.

I, for one, prefer to give up and depend entirely on GPS and google maps rather than make the enormous effort it takes me to orient myself. I understand a little better now what it must feel like for students who struggle with learning disabilities that make reading and writing difficult. It must feel so tempting to avoid it rather than to face it head on.

Being born with a fantastic sense of direction may seem like a run of the mill kind of thing. But, for those of you lucky enough to possess this gift, never take it for granted. There is no more helpless feeling than not knowing how to find home.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Today we held play auditions. We asked every student on their sign-up sheet if they had any conflicts that would interfere with them being in the show. Our favorite conflict listed was this one:

School 7:45-2:30 p.m.

We can probably work around that one.

We also asked every student personally during their audition to tell us about anything that could prevent them from being at rehearsals. My favorite response was a boy who said, "The only thing I can think of that might conflict is that I mow lawns. But I could probably switch around the days that I do it." Maybe you had to be there, but it just hit my funny bone. He was so serious about his work. I said to him, "That's the great thing about being your own boss. You can set your own schedule." Problem solved.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Pet named Peeve

As a getting to know you activity for my classes, I had them write ten things about themselves and share a few with the group. I gave them categories for each of the ten things like family, hobbies, favorite food, places, etc. One of the categories was "biggest pet peeve." That turned out to be a hilarious one. I didn't expect the kids to be quite so specific or passionate about the things they hate. Here are some of the pet peeves they shared:

  • When people don't clear extra time on the microwave
  • When you're in a big group of people and you can feel someone breathing on the back of your neck
  • When someone leaves a door ajar
  • When drawers are sticking out
  • When things aren't symmetrical
  • When you're doing homework or writing an email and someone comes and watches over your shoulder
  • When someone washes his/her hands, doesn't dry them, and then touches a door knob
  • When someone leaves a room without turning off the lights
  • When someone sings a song he/she doesn't know the words to
  • When someone doesn't know all the words to a song so he/she sings the chorus over and over again
  • When someone eats off your plate or drinks from your cup
  • When people don't use the proper punctuation in texts
  • When people say "good" instead of "well"
  • When people make saliva noises with their mouths when they talk
  • When people say, "um" all the time when their talking
  • When people don't say "bless you" after someone sneezes
The pet peeve I shared was not really my biggest pet peeve, but I wanted to make a point. I shared that I can't stand it when students sharpen their pencils while I'm talking. It's true, I really hate that. But now every class knows and I hope saying it will nip that little issue in the bud.

So what's YOUR biggest pet peeve?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My New Room, Part 2

Introducing my classroom!

Someday in the near future, I hope all the chairs below will be filled. They were set up for a district meeting and I haven't had the heart to take them down, even though my biggest choir is 26 students.

The umbrella below is to teach about long vowels (the rod) and space, created by lifting the soft pallate (the top). The beach poster is to teach students to relax their bodies and drop their breathing to it's natural, low position.

A special thanks to Lane and his grandpa Ortho, a well known sculptor for the church, for drawing "Tom the Tenor" (above). He is my aide for teaching proper singing posture. I made him a male tenor, as that's the toughest for me to find when trying to balance my choirs. Maybe "if I draw him, he will come." Who knows.

Below are pictures from past choirs. Kids love seeing people they know and all the different outfits over the years.

My office:

I love the big desk surface. Great for putting a MILLION things....everything I might need at any given moment right at my finger tips!

I have a sink! How cool is that? I've already stocked the drawers with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and even mascara in case I don't make it home before a concert. It never hurts to be over-prepared, right?

A few mementos from my junior high kids include the saxophone playing nun from when the Girls Ensemble sang songs from Sister Act (below) and a mask spray painted white from my first year when the Concert Choir sang Phantom of the Opera music. (Recognize that gorgeous baton, Shana?!)

Yesterday was the first day of school.

(Special thanks to Celeste for making sure I got a "my first day" pic.)

Here are some stats from the day:
  • Biggest Reality Check: Some of my students are much, much, MUCH taller than me.
  • Biggest Concern: In Utah, concert choirs typically have 60-100 kids. Right now there are 15 in my concert choir.
  • Day Highlight: The madrigals performed the Star Spangled Banner memorized in front of the entire student body after very few rehearsals. These kids are rockstars!
  • Day Lowlight: Realizing it really is too late for students to change their schedules to add choir this semester and my program won't get much bigger this year. I kept hoping I could recruit and increase my numbers significantly in a matter of days. Not going to happen on my timetable.
  • Most Missed: Eating lunch with my dear colleagues at Dixon who knew me so well and loved me anyway!
  • Most Anticipated: Working on the school musical, which will include ramps where characters will roller-blade, incredible custom made costumes, soulful music, an elevator for "The Wiz" to make his grand entrance, and much, much more. Our drama teacher is AWESOME!
It has been an amazing couple of days. The faculty and staff here are so kind and helpful. The kids are glad that hasn't changed from middle school! Because that's my favorite part.

I wish I could put everything in to words. There is much to say...there are so many exciting things that strike me throughout the day related to being in charge of a high school program. There are also so many reasons to be worried and completely stressed out. My goal is to make it through one day at a time!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My New Room, Part 1

"So much of me is made from what I learned from you. You'll be with me like a hand print on my heart."

--From the song, "For Good" from the musical

This is the first in a two part series called, "My New Room." I acquired two new rooms this school year. The first is my room in the home where I live. The second will be the room in the school where I teach.

Our living spaces reflect much about who we are. As I looked around my room, I realized that while my room does represent me, it represents who I am because of you. I'd like to take you on a tour of my room and all the little things in it that make me who I am because of all the people who have come into my life over the past 28 years.

I live in a town house owned by Celeste, a dear friend and former roommate from 2007-2008. In her home, the Spirit can dwell. She has pictures of the Savior, of the temple, of friends and family, etc. all over her home. She has decorated each room with loving care. Everything she brings into her home is good and virtuous. I am so lucky to live here with her.

To get to my room, walk to the end of the hall on the second floor. This is what you will find:

I made this wreath with my mom and two sisters during a priesthood session girls night. After opening the door, walk up the second flight of stairs...

... to my loft room on the third floor. This is view from the top of the stairs.

And here's a closer look at the piece of furniture straight ahead. This is a birthday present from my mom and dad and I am in love with it. The picture on top is my favorite depiction of the Savior because of the faces and body language of all those who are in awe of seeing their Savior and Redeemer in the flesh.

I bought the hat below that sits on top of my shelf in Mexico. My brother and I went with a group from one of my BYU wards to Mexico. Sharing that experience with my brother is something I'll never forget. We helped out with some projects through an organization called FFHE.
In one cubby hole is my roommate time capsule with Kate, Many, and Tessa, waiting to be opened again next summer.
In another cubby hole is "The Book" (I found it when I was moving, Emily, Many, and Alicia. Surprise!). It's a book of quotes the four of us kept during our adventures in the music education program at BYU. We would pass the book around throughout the week and write down every funny thing that any of us said or any of our professors or peers said in the school of music. We still try to pass it around. When Melissa and I went to a choral academy at BYU this summer, we wrote a few notes to keep the tradition alive. Who will be getting it in their mailbox next??

My movie collection on my shelf reminds me of Violet. We were joined at the hip in middle school and our favorite movie of all time was "While You Were Sleeping." We had an entire scene memorized and we would act it out for our families.

Below is where I sleep. The bed is one of the greatest "big kid purchases" I've ever made. For some reason, buying a bed felt like a really grown up thing to do. Of course, it's just a frame, box springs, and mattress, but it's heavenly :-).

The piece of furniture in front of my bed is a beautiful antique hope chest loaned to me graciously by my dad and moved up two flights of stairs by my Uncle Bret and my roommate Celeste (special thanks to my cute cousin Keiana for helping to unload and load all the photo albums and scrapbooks inside!).

On my bed there are lots of lovely creatures.
  • There are two dalmation stuffed animal given to me when I was collecting all things dalmation in middle school and high school.
  • There is a bear in a pretty bluish/green dress that was mine as a baby.
  • The bear to the right of that one is from a sweet young woman named Lais in Passo Fundo, Brazil. I taught her the missionary lessons in Brazil with Sister Jenni Jones and Sister Christi Stucki.
  • The pink ballerina bear was given to me by my freshman year college roommate, Shelley, when I took beginning jazz at BYU. I was horrible at it, but I gave it 110% heart and she was very supportive of me and the practicing and stretching I'd do in our dorm hall.
  • The unicorn is also from Shelley. It involved one of our many freshman year inside jokes.
  • The caterpillar from Bug's Life was a gift from my dear childhood friend Holly.
  • The Brazil pillow behind was given to me right before I left my mission by some investigators who were my neighbors in Caxias.
The pillowcase above was made for me by little sis Anna (aka Susan) and sent to me on my mission. She's so cute.

The little plastic shelf number below gets a shout-out because I bought it for my dorm room in 2001 and I've been using it every place I've lived for the ten years since. Never was twenty bucks so worth it.

I love the desk above because my parents got it especially for me when I was in high school. I love it. I don't know why I feel such an attachment to it. Maybe because furniture in a house is often shuffled around from room to room and handed down and back up again. But this one was specifically looked for and purchased for me. We got it used and it has an antique feel. It's also dark wood, which is my favorite kind.

The clock was a housewarming gift from my mom when I moved in to Millrace with Kate, Tessa, and Melissa.

I had to include the Internet set-up above because it would not be there without my Dad. Nor would my birthday shelf, music shelf, and chest of drawers would be built. He and my mom came and helped me with lots of projects around my room, including sewing on buttons (thanks mom!).

A certain sister of mine (who shall remain nameless) calls the big chair above "the make out chair" (scandalous!) because it's just small enough for two. It's on loan to me by Celeste. I've designated it as my READING chair everyone, lest you be worried.

Having a space for my piano is one of my favorite parts about living in the loft. When I was in college, I applied for the music ed program as a freshman and was not accepted. I worked for a year to build my resume and reapplied. When I was accepted in 2004, my parents gave me my Clavinova as an early graduation present so I could use it to practice voice. It has been an invaluable part of my life and has moved all over, including to my brother's apartment when I was on my mission and my sister's apartment when I didn't have a place for it. Now it's back with me. One of my favorite weekly traditions is playing it on Sunday (which is especially fun when Celeste comes upstairs to sing with me!).

My mom's sisters always find cute, meaningful gifts to send me for Christmas. Above is a sweet reminder from my Aunt Mary of the five "Be's" taken from a talk by President Hinckley It sits on my piano.

The pictures in my room each have hundreds of stories associated with them. Above to the left is a picture from my high school jazz choir tour to Europe. I'm with Shauna and my sweet friend Nick. In the middle of the two pictures is "Prince Charming," a little memento Kate brought back for me and my roommates when she did a study abroad in London.

In 2007-2008 when Celeste and I were roommates, we lived with Angela and Briana and we were all graduating from college that year. We got to put on our robes together and have a graduation party with our families afterward. It was so much fun. We were also there when Brie and Angela started dating their husbands.

The flag is from Taiwan and was given to me by Shelley or Brie when they were both called to serve in Taiwan on the same day.

There are many personal treasures on my little display shelf by my closet.

The watering can above is from the garden/tea-party themed shower we threw for Kate. The letter 'K' was made for me by Emily. I got in on a special deal on her blog! The rock below is a memento from my beloved first school, Dixon. "Dixon Rocks."

My beehive leaders, Sister Payne and Sister Green, gave me the picture and frame below in 1995 to remind me of my goal to go to the temple someday. Behind it were two postcards of the Salt Lake City temple (my favorite at the time because my parents were married there). When I went through the temple, I was to send those postcards back to them. I kept this with me until 2005 when I went through the temple before my mission. I made good on my promise and sent them each a letter!

The silver piano below has my initials engraved on it and was a high school graduation gift from my former babysitter and dear friend Mollie. A couple I absolutely loved in Caxias gave me the little memento on the right which represents southern Brazil in particular. The beautiful ceramic box to the right was a gift from my sweet Grandma Carolyn and Grandpa Fred from their mission in the Czech Republic.

My favorite part of the room is the little makeshift vanity I put together from Ikea and Ross. The chair is a little small...

...but I couldn't just NOT buy it, especially when it matched my clock, my mirror (which was ten bucks!) and the bathroom corner unit I got from IKEA that we keep downstairs:

Apparently swirls are my theme.

Sitting on my vanity is a box Dana made for me with lots of memories from our 10 years of friendship. I love looking at it and always keep it somewhere where I can see it often.

My jewelry, hanging from the window near the vanity above, has so many stories to tell about people I love.

The necklace above was a gift from my best friend from high school, Shauna. She has such a unique sense of style and gives the best gifts. Shauna and I had so many hilarious moments together in choir and theater arts and English class. I am so glad we have never lost touch.

Each of my rings has a special significance to me thanks to so many people who have shown me support throughout my life. As my birthday present last year, my mom and dad bought me the claddagh ring I fell in love with in Ireland. The garnet ring set in gold in the middle was one of the first piece of "real" jewelry I got when I was a girl. I have treasured it ever since. The CTR ring was a high school graduation gift that I have worn countless times since. It is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.

The earrings on the left were a birthday present from one of my favorite mission companions in the field, Sister Jones (quick shout out to my fav MTC mission companion, Deanna Theriot, :-)). Jenni taught me so many important life lessons through her energy, laughter, and testimony. The necklace to the right of the sassy earrings was a gift from my Grandma Marva. She is actually my step grandmother but has never made me feel like I was anything less than her own flesh and blood. She remembers every holiday and birthday.

The gorgeous earrings below were a gift from my sister Christina, brought back for me from Thailand when she was on tour this year!

My purses have so many connections to people I love. Below is the bag I got while in Viva Voce from 2007-2008, an all women choir I was in with Many and Amy and so many other dear friends. It was directed by one of my favorite mentors, Jean Applonie.

I bought the purse above while shopping with my mom, sister, and sister-in-law in Austin, TX. We were visiting Joe and Shana. It is everything Austin and I love it. It's my school bag.

The tie below was given to me by my zone leaders, Elder Greiner and Elder Cristovao, when I finished my mission. They signed the back :-).

Inside my closet, nearly every pair of shoes and article of clothing reminds me of important people in my life.

Below are my collection of Brazilian flip-flops. They are called Havaianas and are very popular in Brazil (or at least were when I was there). They always wear flip-flops inside their homes. A recent convert named Marta beaded the white ones for me.

Below are my favorite kind of sandals that remind me of Violet, Holly, Tracy, and my whole Santa Barbara crew. These were the "in" kind of flip flops to buy when we were in junior high and high school, except in black. Apparently, I haven't grown out of liking them!

The dress above Sylvia picked up for me one day at Ross because she said it looked like my style. She was dead on! I love it. Christina worked at Buckle for a year and therefore half my wardrobe comes from there, like the shirt below.

I got the blouse above from England when I went to see Christina on tour in 2010. The dress below I bought for Joe and Shana's wedding in 2009.

Above is my uniform for the Wasatch Chorale that I sung in during 2010-2011. Below is my bridesmaid dress from Kate's wedding.

Above is the dress I wore at my senior year voice concert in 2005 with Many, Emily, and Alicia. Below is my bridesmaid's dress from Lisa's wedding, also in 2005.

I wore the green dress as a bridesmaid at Tina's wedding in 2010. The red dress below was made by a member in Brazil right before I went home in 2007. I asked her to create something out of my bed sheets because I liked the material. She produced a dress and a skirt. Amazing.

I purchased the outfit below for my concerts at Dixon Middle School.

Below is my Girls Ensemble shirt my last year at Dixon.

I know you all don't want to see my laundry basket, but I had to include this in my list of memories because Holly gave it to me when I graduated high school as a "going away to college" gift. She was a year ahead of me and had experience with the best kind of dorm stuff to buy. I've had it for the ten years since. It has gone with me to every single place I have moved with the exception of Brazil!
So there you have it. The room created by all of you. And that doesn't even include the hundreds of you who are in my photo albums and have written me notes of encouragement and love that are in my scrapbooks, all sitting inside my hope chest. Wish I could have gotten pictures of it all.

Thank you.

You are my home.