Monday, October 28, 2013

Spooktacular October Fun!

My students did a beautiful job in Cedar City and this was their thank you card!

This baby giraffe turned 3! She is wearing her birthday pajamas from Aunty Katie (excuse my creepy face in the picture- it was a screen shot of our face time!).  She loves animals.  And oh, how I love this little one!
I started pulling out all the winter clothes and got a little embarrassed by how many boots...

...and scarves...I've collected over the years!

The YM/YW in our stake set up booths for a Halloween carnival with hundreds of kids.  These were two of the best costumes!
Our YM/YW were in charge of the fishing booth (a very popular one).
The munchies turned 3! 

I was in charge of Grant's present...
...and Tina was in charge of Paige's!

Look at this cute Mommy-to-be!
Their cousin Summer was making us laugh so much.  She is a bundle of energy!
She got in a box and was chugging it forward like a car.
The twins' favorite gifts were the ones picked by the one who knows them best! Mommy! Paige got Ariel...

...and Granty got a dump truck!
My Grandma Marva had a Halloween dinner and we had so much fun looking at all the clever Halloween food!
Though Halloween is not really my thing, this party made me get in to it.
The syringes were full of jello!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Moments to Live For

Below is an email I sent today at work: 

Hey Admins and Jose's* teachers,  

       I had an incredible experience I wanted to share with you regarding a piano student. Last year, having never before played piano or had private lessons, Jose Rodriguez took beginning piano. Throughout the year, he stood out as a very hard worker.  He excelled quickly and moved to the intermediate track before the year was over.  He was honored at our end of the year recital as an outstanding student.  Throughout that year, he used one of our small rental keyboards to practice on at home because his family did not have a piano.  Piano became a passion for Jose, and over the summer he saved up his own money and purchased a keyboard for himself.  He is now enrolled in intermediate piano.  Today was our end of the term piano performances in intermediate piano.  Jose got up and played a Chopin Waltz in the key of C# minor that was about 8 pages long, completely from memory.  To give you an idea, the level of the piece was the kind of piece I was playing when I stopped piano lessons after 9 years of private instruction (or even harder).  I sat there and bawled throughout his flawless performance, and that does not happen often.  This kid is completely self-motivated.  He is also a very kind, considerate young man.  I asked him when he finished playing how much he practices and he said he practices four hours a day.  I want you to know how meaningful the piano lab is for kids who wouldn't otherwise have an opportunity to hone in on their musical gifts.  Thank you so much for making it possible and for keeping it open and running.  It is changing lives of students like Jose.  I am hoping he will apply for scholarships.  I wish I knew how to better recognize his incredible achievements. Teachers, if you see him, feel free to talk to him about it.  If you have any suggestions for how else to recognize him, please let me know. My life has changed so much for the better for having seen the example of this young man.  

Katie Houston 
*Name has been changed

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Seeing Seattle with Shauna!

The whole reason I came to Seattle was because of Shauna.  We have been talking about going on a trip somewhere for awhile.  One day she was looking at flights online and said, "Let's go to Seattle! I already bought a ticket."  So I decided I was in too!  We can't believe we're thirty. Our birthdays are a week apart and we knew we had to celebrate together.  I have been spreading out the celebration as long as possible! It was such a fantastic weekend. I love Seattle.  Thanks, Cha Cha, for making it happen!

We went back to Pike's Market.  That place never gets old!
We had lunch overlooking the water.  We both got soup- French onion for me (insane) and Chowder for her.
We had to get a picture with the Space Needle, of course!
We toured the Experimental Music Project (EMP), a museum dedicated to the evolution of contemporary music.  Definitely worth it.

Seeing what it's like to be a professional musician- main reason I want to come back here with my students when we go on tour to Seattle next year! SO COOL!
There were two full rooms dedicated to Jimi Hendrix and his band, the Jimi Hendrix experience.  There was also a huge exhibit on Nirvana and a gallery showing the evolution of the guitar.
This is the guitar JH smashed during his last performance in London.  He would carefully and lovingly paint the guitar on the very day he planned to smash it as a sacrifice. He said a sacrifice is something you love and he loves his guitars.

This statue plays live music when you put the headphones on. Soooo cool.

One of the coolest shops I've seen was in Ballard.  It was called the ReStore and has an enormous variety of donated household items.  Shauna found three lamp shades that she valiantly carried all over the town (and is still trying to decide how to get home!)

I wish pictures could do this place justice.  The top picture in the collage above and below is an old fashioned soda counter.

We had some pretty delicious food, including chocolate popcorn while we watched "Gravity."  I liked the movie better than I thought I would.  Different, definitely different. 
On Sundays, the Center for Wooden Boats gives volunteer free tours on Union Lake.  It was delightful.  We met up with one of Shauna's friends there.  Our boat was Dora, driven by Captain Jack.
The picture above is where they used to make boats for both sides of the Prohibition movement! They made rum runners and were also hired by the police to make patrol boats to catch them.
The houses on the water were so fascinating thing to me.  The older ones are on logs.  The newer ones are on concrete.  The bottom house is a very appropriate end to this post. It is the house from "Sleepless in Seattle."  That was such an exciting sight for me!

Friday, October 18, 2013

MANY October Adventures!

I've been calling Melissa "Many" for about ten years now.  Alicia, Emily, Melissa and I were in the music ed program together at BYU and one time before Women's Chorus rehearsal Emily asked Melissa if she had any nicknames.  She responded, "Yes, many."  Class began right after that so she didn't have time to clarify.  We thought "many" was an odd nickname, but it stuck. 

Many has helped me remain sane as a teacher, as she also teaches choir nearby.  We meet at least once a month to have dinner and vent about all our worries.  It's 100% necessary and therapeutic!

This month, we got a chance to have some pretty awesome adventures.  First, our beloved roommate Kate came into town from Wyoming to have a much needed girls weekend!  We had a sleepover, went shopping, got pedicures, went to Leatherby's, and saw a chick flick.  They also came to my ward with me and supported me during my YW lesson.  There is nothing like being with your nearest and dearest! But we did so miss our fourth musketeer, Tessa! (As some may recall, the four of us went to Prince Edward Island together when we were roommates about 5 years ago).

We had to take a survey on which moccasins I should get.  I included all the women in my family via text.  I ended up going with the first one,
This was a bit of a leap, but with the support of Many and Kate, I took the plunge and got the combat boots.
 The next weekend, Many and I boarded a plane for Seattle! We're both on fall break and I am meeting my best friend from high school, Shauna, here on Saturday and Sunday.  I wanted to make the trip a little longer so I called up Melissa who went to grad school here and asked if she wanted to go out earlier with me. 

Riding the shuttle to our hotel!
Our first stop was this adorable, historic burger place that Many highly recommended. It was awesome!

Working the new shoes...
Because it's not the huge travel season right now, we got a great deal on a sah-weet ride!

I was absolutely bowled over by the fall colors. One of the most beautiful things I have ever seen!

We walked around Green Lake and saw the most beautiful colors everywhere!

They have a little stadium facing the lake to watch boat races! I wish we could have seen one.

I couldn't believe two trees of such contrasting colors could exist side by side!

We stopped by Theo, a famous chocolate factory in Seattle.

Here is my $2 caramel! It was pretty delicious. 

I just thought these bushes were cute.

We couldn't pass up the chance to visit the famous Seattle troll! (Melissa, Kate, Tessa and I all visited together this time three years ago!)

Many said she feels like the troll watched over her when she was in Seattle :-).

We stopped at Gas Works park which is gorgeous and very cool with all the leftover equipment from when it was a factory. 

We sat...and enjoyed.  In fact, we stretched out on the hill overlooking the water and took a 45 minute nap in the flawless weather.  It was a trip highlight!

Panoramic shot of Gas Works park!

We stopped to see the temple and saw some more fantastic colors!

Even dinner was colorful! We met up with Melissa's college friend, Matt, and tried Puerto Rican food for the first time! They use a lot of plantains. It was yummy!

The next day, we headed to Pike's market.  We spent three hours there that went by SO quickly...probably could have spent 2 more hours there without blinking an eye!

The flowers are absolutely insane.  And soooo inexpensive.  Bright bouquets like this inspire me.  They are just as beautiful as I remember them from my first trip to Seattle.  Wish I could transport them all to Utah!

Love the hanging peppers!

See the ferris wheel behind the stands?

I found "The Monster," a delightful gluten free cookie!

We got soup (french onion for me- my favorite!) and ate it overlooking the water.

We both left the market with a new accessory to remember Seattle by! Mine is above and Many's is below.

Thanks for coming two days early with me, Many! It was such a needed, relaxing break.  Can't wait for Shauna to get here for more Seattle fun, Ka-Ka and Cha-Cha style!