Monday, August 25, 2014

A Farewell to Summer

This post is a fond farewell to summer.

Goodbye to my sweet summer full of reunions with my best friends and their children...

Shelley, Kate and I reunited for a roommate sleepover that was much too short, but blissful.  Love seeing my friends as sweet mothers!

Last time I saw Dana, she had three and now she has five (including TWO sets of twins!).  We joined Lisa and her crew (eight kids between them!) for an afternoon at the park!



Five car seats!
 Farewell to carefree afternoons babysitting the sweetest human beings on earth...

I got to hang out with my friend Jodi's baby while his parents saw Wicked- I fell in love.
Look how my main man's hair curls! Is that not the cutest thing you've ever laid your eyes on?!

 So long summer concerts with my little band...
For my dad's 60th birthday, Lane and I surprised him with a private concert by Farr from Houston followed by ice-cream sundaes.  My dad inspired me to play the guitar and I inherited my love of the blue grass genre from him.  I couldn't wait for him to hear our music (especially Lane's guitar/mandolin work!).

This was my favorite performance so far.
Ta ta to faculty training and classroom preparations...

I like our new faculty shirts.
New idea Christina sent me from Pinterest. If phones have too many visits to jail, they get sent to prison in the main office.
...hello first day of school.

Kind of fun/scary to forever have a first day of school.  The first day is always a little nerve wracking, no matter how many years I've been teaching!
 See ya later, age 30 (my hardest birthday)...and hello to the rapidly approaching 31 (shaping up to be my best birthday!).

My family took my out to dinner as an early birthday present.  Our chef introduced himself as "Big White Guy."  The food was incredible.
They surprised me with gifts! My dad always says whichever one I like best is from him, but we both know my mom chooses everything.  She knows me extremely well.  Stationary, music pin board and earrings, a puzzle, gift card to down east, and a travel backpack.  I was thrilled and have already begun putting my gifts to use!
On the first day of school, this incredible package arrived on my doorstep from Shauna "Cha Cha" Mcgarry, one of my very best friends from my youth.  She couldn't have picked anything I would love more. I was so overwhelmed by her thoughtfulness.  Her birthday is 7 days before mine and I'm not sure how I'm going to match this!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Shifting Gears

My mind is full of many thoughts tonight.  This time of year is always marks new beginnings for me.  My birthday falls near the start of the school year, so I begin a brand new year of life at the same time I meet a new class of students.  Tomorrow marks my first contract day back at work; I am starting my seventh year as a teacher. In a few days, I will meet the first English class of my career.  In a few weeks, I will turn 31.

Today while in Provo, I visited a beloved mentor from my college days.  He told me the story of a rising basketball star. At only 16 years old, his professional future looked bright and he had the admiration of many.  One day, however, he lost both legs in an accident and was resigned to the rest of his life in a wheelchair.  His dream- his entire identity to that point- was to be a basketball player.  After the accident, he had a choice to make.  He could continue to cherish his dream of being a star or he could accept that true happiness might exist down a different path.  The first choice would leave him sad for the rest of his life because of his physical limitations.  Opting to find joy in an alternate route would bring personal fulfillment and significantly impact the lives of many others.  Ultimately, he decided to become a motivational speaker and share his experience.  Doubtless hundreds of lives were affected because of this choice.  Years later, he told my friend that while he would always feel some sadness for the life he originally planned, he realized the alternate route might actually be the better choice.

This story inspired me greatly.  While I cannot relate exactly to the tragedy he suffered, I understand some of what he felt.  For most of my life, I believed true happiness came only after the fulfillment of certain dreams. Today,  however, I considered for the first time that there is not one prescribed path to joy in this mortal life.  Happiness can be found down a myriad of different roads.  As long as my eye remains single to the glory of God, I can be equally, if not more, content down a new road than the one I originally set out to trod.  Though this sounds an awful lot like common sense, it was an epiphany for me.

The trick is to profoundly believe this concept.  The teenager in my friend's story thought a world without basketball would be forever bleak.  Similarly, it is difficult for me to contemplate a fulfilling life without my treasured childhood dreams.  But, as the end of his story taught me, it is possible to find immense joy in places one never considered.  Choosing not to be sad- choosing to find joy in the circumstances we are in- is not an impossible goal.  And it will teach us invaluable lessons and help us grow more than we thought possible.  In the end, we may realize it was the preferred path.  We don't have to suffer every single day because our life isn't what we imagined.  We can instead make it the different, but happy, life we deserve. What a liberating idea!

It is with this new perspective that I begin the 2014-2015 school year and age 31.  It came at the right time.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Alphabet of Peace

 I chatted with my bishop today and we discussed the journey to find peace. It made me stop and consider what works for me despite...or perhaps because of... my circumstances.  I definitely don't always do all of these things like I should.  But, the more I do them, the more peaceful and joyful my life becomes.

Katie's Alphabetic Recipe for Finding Peace

Always remember Him

Babysit children of family and friends

Cut yourself a break

Dance when you're alone in the kitchen

Electronic device fasts

Focus on the Savior

Give your time to someone who needs it

Hug loved ones

Imagine how the Savior sees you

Jot down your feelings

Keep the commandments

Laugh often (see this talk under the subheading, "Learn to Laugh")

Make music

Never suppress a generous thought (quote by Camila Kimball; see this talk)

Open your eyes to your surroundings and observe the beauty of the earth

Pray always

Quit comparing yourself to others

Remember who you are

Serve others

Temple attendance

Understand the Plan of Salvation

Visit your relatives regularly

Work hard

X-amine your life to see how you can better follow the Savior, Jesus Christ

Y worry?

Zero gossip (Zip it!)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Get your kicks on route 66!

There were some very pretty moments on our drive.  With a strong emphasis on moments.  There was also a whole lot of nothing.  But we listened to Of Mice and Men the whole way there, in preparation for my next adventure of teaching 12th grade Language Arts.  Pretty amazing book, though the language made us blush!

Because Holbrook is the home of our first ever gig, I did some in depth research on Wikipedia to find out a little about the town.

First of all, the town has about 5,000 people and is the county seat of Navajo County. Pretty cool, huh?

Below in red are what Wikipedia lists as the "points of interest." For such a little town, there are some pretty cool things it claims. I will give brief commentary about each point based on my two day experience. 
Lane and I visited what Lane called the Walmart for petrified wood.  I thought this sign was positively delightful. What a beautiful concept to not be in a hurry.  I learned that small towns are a whole other world.  Lane's dad owns an A&W gas station where you pump gas first, then go inside to pay!! In today's world, that is truly amazing. How lovely to know places like Holbrook still exist.
If you haven't seen petrified wood, you are missing out.  It's incredible! They had rocks you could buy and take home to crack open.  If you were really lucky, you'd get a geode full of exquisitely beautiful crystals. Or, you could get a dud.  Lane said his cousins had a blast buying those and going back for more.  It's like finding buried treasure!
They had this awesome old car out front that we were permitted to take pictures in.  Holbrook is a huge car town- wish my dad could have come!
  • The Historic Navajo County Courthouse and Museum in Downtown Holbrook. Built in 1898, the courthouse is now home to the Navajo County Historical Society and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
 We drove through the Indian reservation on our way to Holbrook.  I am huge fan of different cultures.  I think it's amazing that the kids in Holbrook grow up side by side with a culture so rich with history and tradition.  Lane filled me in on "skin-walkers", however, which was not my favorite piece of information.  I wasn't sure if I bought it, but I was not about to broadcast any disbelief...just in case.

This hotel is featured in the movie Cars!
There are incredibly cool old cars just parked normally next to the wigwam rooms as though they belong to guests. Those teepees are, indeed, motel rooms.

Lane's best friend growing up is the high school choir teacher. He and his family are pasisonate about helping building the community in Holbrook. His sister, Kathleen, was in charge of this first annual two day festival.  There were tons of fun activities planned at the West End park.

There was a car show (Holbrook sure does love cars!).  I took a picture of every car and texted them to my dad. Above is just a sample.  My favorite thing was to see the inside of the VW bus.  It felt like going back in time.

Kids could design their own potato car.
They raced them down this ramp.  There were prizes for the fastest cars!

Some of Kyle's students performed before us. This cute girl did some contemporary Native American dancing.  We couldn't believe how much energy she had.

This girl had an awesome voice- she sounded like she could be on the radio.
Lane brought the percussion set up, of course!  It really is amazing how he crafts an entire one-man-band out of things he finds at D.I. or around the house.  This was the first time the "bass drum" had it's own microphone!
We had a BLAST performing our entire set for his family, who were seated on the front row! There were maybe 3 or 4 other people there when we performed the first time.  We came back an hour or two later and performed half our songs again. Our audience doubled that time! It was absolutely perfect just the way it was.  Every minute I'm singing or playing for even an audience of 3, I feel like I'm living a dream.
Kathleen made sure our gas and food was paid for- that was so kind. 

Thanks to Andrew Farr for taking pictures!

We did it!
I (sort of) won the clock pictured in the top left! I was STOKED.  I had my eye on it from the beginning!  They had kids come and teach swing dancing after we were done performing.  This was especially for a group of girl scouts earning a merit badge. So fun!
  • Bucket of Blood Street was named the sixth wackiest street name according to a 2006 poll by Car Connection website.[9]
 It's true. I saw it.

I felt truly blessed by the hospitality of Lane's parents, Nancy and "Vinny".  They always had food on the table for us, and his mom made a special effort to make sure the meals were gluten free, which was so sweet.  We had lots of good laughs. Lane and his dad sound IDENTICAL at times.  I can definitely see where his sense of humor comes from! It was so fun to get to know Lane's little sister Laurie and her husband, Chad (and their dog, Dillon!), and his little brother Andrew.  I learned a lot about the trouble fun kids find in small towns! What a fun weekend.

Staying in Holbrook was a unique experience that I would gladly repeat.  Lane's dad kept joking that Holbrook was the first stop on our national tour and pretended like we were famous. It was so funny.  Lane's favorite line is that we are going to make tens of dollars.  Truly, I wouldn't trade this summer band experience for anything, even if we never play for anyone ever again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


At girls camp this year, our goal was to Become Unified Gospel Sisters.  Here is a peek at the kinds of activities we did at girls camp!


...each had a bug, a color, and a young women value. The stake were yellow bees and our value was Good Works.  At our headquarters ("The Hive"), each girl had a bug jar where campers could leave sweet notes.  The nets were for secret wards who left each other treats each day.  Our flag combined all the young women value colors in the wings!
...sang silly camp songs, led by our Youth Camp Leaders...
...ate lunch and dinners all together under the pavilion...
...using our very own mess kits...

...played unity games where we got to know each other better...

(rotate talking to a new person every couple minutes!)

(cross the finish line while tied together!)
(flip over the tarp without anyone stepping on the dirt!)

...hung out by (and in) the lake...

...did crafts...

...survived a few downpours and a thunder and lightening storm...

...did presentations about each one of the YW values...

...sang spiritual songs like "I am a Child of God" and the round "Father I Adore You" and talked about how singing parts together is a unifying experience...
...rehearsed for our Bishop's night skits...

....slept in (sometimes leaking) tents...
...hung out with our wards...

...had dinner with our stake president, bishop, and high councilman...

...put up and took down the flag each morning, said a prayer, sang a hymn, and gave a thought  for opening and closing ceremonies...
...performed our skits (ours was a clever knock off on "royals" by Lorde, words by Traci Peterson)...

...I had a bit of a solo...

...and we even had baby bees!...

...did Madlibs with all the bishops...
...went on a scavenger hunt...

...and made new friends, strengthened existing friendships, and grew closer to our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ!