Friday, January 30, 2015

A Tubular Time

Jessame does an amazing job planning fun activities and getting people together to do them. I admit, I was a little hesitant to join in on this one. Going tubing all the way in Soldier's Hollow felt very adventurous for a school night.  I'm also kind of a wuss sometimes.  But it was such an intriguing idea that I just couldn't say no.  And between work and homework, I was yearning for something fun that had nothing to do with either.

 The cool part about this tubing experience is that everyone gets pulled up the mountain while sitting in their tubes.  They play some rocking music. The first time I went down, I panicked when I realized I was going so fast and there was absolutely nothing I could do to get out of it.  I couldn't even scream.  We went down about 6 more times, though, and it was so fun.  I liked going down in pairs the most.  During one run, Dallin and I raced Jessame and Mark.  We both went on our stomachs this time and I think that was our winning move.  Once when Jessame and I went down, we definitely caught air more than once.


 Probably the most exciting moment was one solo run I did.  I was going down the hill backwards (that kept happening by accident) and the red flashing lights indicated that I needed to start dragging my feet to slow down.  So, I started dragging of course, because I'm freaked out every time I go down anyway and I'm eager to slow down.  As I dug my heels in, first one boot came off, then the other.  I was so disoriented by the fact that I was in my socks that I forgot to keep dragging my feet.  I ended up barreling into an orange mesh barricade.  The workers had to come over and see why on earth I didn't slow myself down.  I got a few laughs from people at the bottom of the hill.

And who doesn't want to end their snow tubing adventures with a shake from the Dairy Keen?  I made it clear that I can't go to Heber without stopping there.  Love.

In totally unrelated news, I had the opportunity to use the special dip bowls I got for Christmas when we had Chris and Allie over for shredded chicken tacos.  Aren't they darling? 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It's January of 2015! Whaaaat?

The New Year started off taking care of the aftermath of a flood that happened New Year's Eve day.  An overhead sprinkler next to the band room exploded and both the band and choir rooms flooded.  There was at least an inch of standing water in my music library.  Thankfully, none of my music was damaged because of the incredibly quick response of my amazing administration.  When I came back from break, everything from my office outside of it.  The janitors were AWESOME and helped us get everything back in to place in no time at all. Some band music was damaged and replaced, but probably only a few hundred dollars worth.  It really was a miracle. 

January is a big month for our family, as both my sisters celebrate their birthdays! For Anna's birthday on January 10th, I got a peek into her college life.  She and her roommates threw an enormous "Roaring Twenties" birthday party.  So many people came dressed up to match the theme.  Christina and I found ourselves a bit old- especially considering my roaring twenties are now past me- so we dropped in once or twice and mostly stayed holed up in the condo having dinner with Jer, Scotty, Christian and Chelsey.  I was so proud of Anna for being such a great hostess with the mostest.

Tina and Jer brought Scotty up one Saturday so I could watch him while they went to the temple.  This kid is growing up so fast, and learning SO MUCH.  He can throw and (sort of) catch a ball, he is saying lots of words, and he's the hippest toddler on the block- check out his outfit! He loves to crawl into our laps and have books read to him.  He says, "ho ho ho" whenever he sees a picture of Santa Claus.  He does baby signs, especially sorry, please, and all done.  If he gets excited and hits, we tell him to be soft and he drags his little hand "softly" across the face of the person he hit.  It's so cute.

I also got to have another "girls night" sleepover with cousin Nicole! We visited Scotty and she read him a book.  We also helped babysit for stake conference and got milkshakes.

For Christina's 27th birthday, we had a family dinner consisting of one of Christina's favorites meals, Stauffer's lasagna! My mom made Tina's favorite buttermilk chocolate cake (sans the discontinued rainbow chip sad).  We also went to the outlets for Tina to pick out her birthday present from my parents, a puffy winter vest.  Scotty had the time of his life running around outside in between stores. Again, please appreciate the way his mommy dresses him. 

 My dad and his brothers own my Grandad's property.  AND THEY HAVE HORSES! And two llamas.  It's like my dad's dream come true.  And all the kids have a bit of cowboy and girl running through our veins, thanks to a mom who was raised on a farm and a dad who lived every summer at his grandparents' ranch.  I had a great time brushing and walking Annie. I am known as the only Houston kid who doesn't love animals, but I have a special love for horses.  Check out that brush-- crazy! I wouldn't like that thing on my hair, but Annie loved it. Christina got a chance to ride her a couple days later. Can't wait for my turn!
I started my very last graduate school class.  Below is a sample of the kind of excitement that happens for 2.5 hours every Thursday night.  I have to admit, I actually am quite fascinated by music theory and I am enjoying this class.  It goes really fast, though, so I can't afford not to pay attention for even a minute.  And that's hard for me.  But...after this, I finish my project over the summer and I'm done! As of December 2015, I will have finished my master's after a mere 3.5 years (ha ha).

Well, I did it. I got my hair colored after years of abstaining.  And I am LOVING IT.  I really shouldn't have started...because now I won't be able to stop.

For New Beginnings, we are introducing the mutual theme this year of embarking in the service of God.  I am in charge of the frames we will send home with each girl. Gilary made the darling picture we are putting inside each one.  I find it therapeutic to come home from work and school and work on a few frames at a time. I'll be kind of sad when they are all finished!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Heaven When We're Home

I miss music.  You may be thinking to yourself, "Hello,'re a choir teacher."  And you are right.  I don't know how to explain it.  I think I miss music being my primary emotional outlet. When I get home from work after being behind the piano for half the day, I don't feel like playing again while I process my feelings. I used to do that all the time as a teenager.  I would bust out my Broadway books and play and sing my heart out.  I even found myself doing it when I went home for Christmas.

Today, I had the chance to reconnect to music.  I took the day off work and drove down to Provo to be with my family who is in town.  During the trips down and back, I put my music on shuffle.  Many songs popped up that brought back fond memories and filled my soul.

One of the songs was, "With You" from the Broadway musical, Baby. When I was taking voice lessons with Anna Mooy, this was one of the songs she recommended for me to sing.  The lyrics are beautiful. The melody is heavenly.  The couple that sings the song are trying to have a baby.  Even though I think it is a love song between the two of them, I always think of a mother singing this text to her long awaited child instead.  I picture the way my siblings feel about their children and how I will feel someday about my own child.  Nieces and nephews really give me a taste of what that could feel like.

Many of the songs in my collection are Broadway, so it's no surprise that one of the other songs that touched me today was, "What I Did For Love."  Hearing this song again reminded me of my dear friends Kate, Brie, and Shelley.  During the time we were all living in Hampton Court and going to BYU, this was my go-to audition song.  They heard me practice it so much that Brie had it entirely memorized, down to my own unique improvisational moments (that weren't so improvisational because I did them every single time I sang it).  She could sing the song from start to finish exactly as I sang it.  I couldn't stop laughing at her spot on imitation.  I laughed a lot during that time of my life, right before we split to go on missions and move to a new phase of life. What a treasured time. 

I was literally dancing by myself in the car as I rocked out with Michael Jackson singing, "Man in the Mirror."  It was intense.  I remembered my high school choir students singing it last year, along with a solo dance by a member of our school's dance company.  Also, my love for Michael Jackson came from teaching Middle School at Dixon in Provo.  Learning to love MJ music was how I finally connected to my 7th and 8th graders.  One of my biggest successes in terms of repertoire during my job at Dixon was "Heal the World."  7th grade boys aren't serious about much, but they took that song very seriously.  Which reminds me now of the time KLJ went on a date freshman year to homecoming.  We were in stitches when she told us afterwards about how her date put on "Heal the World" in the car and their group listened to it in reverence while she struggled to keep it together. 

Broadway again.  Surprised? The musical 110 in the Shade came to the Orem Hale Center Theater.  I bawled through the whole play.  Those two hours were some of the most poignant of my life.  I realized that my hopes, desires, fears, and feelings were valid and real.  They were being portrayed right there in front of me on the stage.  I wrote about it in a blog post. As I was driving today, I listened to two songs from the show: "Is it Really Me?" and "Love, Don't Turn Away." 

One more song.  Let's put it this way: If I decided to write a letter to the Wailin' Jenny's and ask them to please write a song to adequately communicate my thoughts and feelings at this phase in my life, they couldn't have done any better than a song they already wrote called, "Heaven When We're Home." When I was in the Millrace YSA ward over 6 years ago, we had an enrichment activity where we shared a favorite song and talked about why we loved it. I'm sure I probably chose something by Rascal Flatts, as they have been the group to best mirror my thoughts and feelings for the past several years.  One girl brought this song and played it for us.  I loved the style and downloaded it, along with a few other songs shared that night.  I always enjoyed the song, but today it was the perfect fit.  I found myself smiling and singing along at the top of my lungs as I listened to it over and over (and over) again. Lane and I are definitely going to have to add this to our repertoire.  Listen to it here.

And here is a quote that I really hope Plato actually said, because it's really quite moving.  But, you never know when you google the phrase, "Quotes about music," what's real and what isn't. 

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”--Plato

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Broken Things

When I was on my mission, one of my companions was going through a difficult time.  Because of how close one feels to the Savior when serving Him full time, he/she is also painfully aware of  his/her inadequacies.  I battled that myself a short time after she did.  At the time, I had recently heard a song called "Broken" by Kenneth Cope that I wanted her to hear.  Because she is Brazilian, I tried to translate the lyrics in my 7-month old Portuguese.  I highly doubt it was accurate, but hopefully she got the message. Above is a video with some beautiful pictures and artwork I found online.  Below are the lyrics.

Broken clouds give rain
Broken soil grows grain
Broken bread feeds man for one more day
Broken storms yield light
The break of day heals night
Broken pride turns blindness into sight

Broken souls that need His mending
Broken hearts for offering
Could it be that God loves broken things?

Broken chains set free
Broken swords bring peace
Broken walls make friends of you and me
To break the ranks of sin
To break the news of Him
To put on Christ till His name feels broken in

Broken souls that need His mending
Broken hearts for offering
I believe that God loves broken things

And yet our broken faith, our broken promises
Sent love to the cross
And still, that broken flesh, that broken heart of His
Offers us such grace and mercy
Covers us with love undeserving

This broken soul that cries for mending
This broken heart for offering
I'm convinced that God loves broken me

Praise His name, my God loves broken things.

I was reminded of that song again today.  Our inadequacies do not define who we are. We lived before we came here and we chose to come to earth and follow our Savior Jesus Christ. That same spirit that wanted so much to choose goodness and light still exists within each one of us.  That is who we are.  Yes, we make mistakes; we sometimes lose our way; and our natural bodies are at times overcome by temptation.  It is easy to feel we are unworthy of being in His presence again some day.

But the beauty of the gospel is this: our great weaknesses and inadequacies eventually bring us back to Him.  We cannot arrive home until we become purified and refined.  We are only purified through our Savior.  And our mistakes lead us to Christ for mercy.  Our pain allows us to know Him.  And when we do, we grow in understanding and arrive one step closer to His presence. 

This whole process isn't easy. No one makes it through this life without intense pain, hopelessness, mistakes, and many moments of regret.  But the Lord is always there to help us come out of all those moments stronger.  I know this for myself. 

 2 Nephi 4:17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
 18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
 19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

1 Nephi 3:And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

Mosiah 27:29 My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Post Christmas Merriment

Well, I am officially a blog slacker. There. I said it. I slacked on my blog.

One of the most wonderful parts of break was getting one-on-one time with my baby sister. Despite 11 years difference in age, we definitely know how to entertain ourselves when we're together. I love you, Suse!

Anna and I had an ugly sweater breakfast the day after Christmas.  Holly Green started the Christmas eve morning brunch tradition and we kind of decided to carry it on.  The amount of years you've been out of high school is directly proportional to the number of friends you get to attend.

We opened some Christmas poppers and had a little too much fun with the contents.  This was one of my favorite memories from the entire trip.  It may have involved some dancing.

Seeing Mr. Phil whenever I go home is a highlight. We've managed to maintain our friendship over the past 18 years...WOW that makes me feel old...

We got this darling message (love technology!) while we were in sunny Santa Barbara. I love this kid!!
 We were so lucky that Joe and Shana had Christmas this year in San Diego with Shana's family, because we got to spend time with them in L.A. before they flew out! I love my talks with that family.  They offer such sweet encouragement and advice...I truly don't feel deserving of such amazing people in my life. Please take particular notice of the picture of my dad playing squirrel in a nest with Ella.

We took advantage of the opportunity to attend the temple before we headed back to Santa Barbara. I love the Los Angeles temple- it's where I went through for the first time.

I teased Anna for wearing shoes that matched her jacket...she is the one who taught the rest of us that this is a major fashion error for this generation.

 One of the coolest parts of our L.A. mini vacation was getting to see the apartments my dad has been working so hard on.  They maintain the old Hollywood charm of the building! I was truly in awe of all the furniture and the set-up.  I felt really proud of my Daddy-O for his vision as he has helped these stay-cations come together.

As per tradition, Holly and I spent New Year's Eve together.  There is something so wonderful about your dearest friends who have seen you through EVERYTHING.  During the day, Anna and Holly and I went to the outlets and bought a shameful amount of new wardrobe (but for shamefully good prices!) At Anna's request, we made Aunt Margy's sandwhiches for our parents.  Then, Holly and Anna and I watched two Hallmark movies back to back.  Anna left at ten minutes to midnight to go hang out with friends while Holly and I raucously (ha ha) brought in the New Year watching Taylor Swift shake it off.

One of my favorite things about Christmas this year was getting to have some fun and develop a new hobby. I have been getting increasingly interested in iMovie and I never have time to do anything about it.  Well, Anna and I decided to make a music video over break, which is presented in all it's glory at the end of this post. I hate the moments where the music and movement don't exactly line up, but it was such a blast to make. I showed it to all my students when I came back to work. Apparently, it's more of a "you had to be there" kind of thing, ha ha! Nevertheless, I'm pretty proud of it :-).  The beach pictures were taken while we were filming.  Can you believe this is where I get to spend Christmas?! In Paradise?