Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year again! What are your resolutions? Are they the same as last year or are they new and different? How are you going to accomplish your goals this year? I am going to compile my list here:

Get in shape (Isn't that the first one on a lot of people's lists?)
  • Attend my hip hop dance class again
  • Dance Dance Revolution
  • Do my back exercises 5 days a week
  • Eat healthy foods
Get to sleep earlier
  • Manage my time better
  • Don't stay up all night worrying
  • Don't stay up all night blogging ;)
  • Discipline
Attend the temple once a month
  • Attend Relief Society temple nights
  • If class does not allow me to attend on scheduled nights, schedule my own night
Exercise more faith
  • Pray
  • Be calm
  • Be peaceful
  • Trust
  • Have patience
  • Remember what the Lord has already done for me
Serve others
  • Matthew 16:25 "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."
  • Think of others first
Finish Grad School!
  • Work hard
  • Enjoy the experience

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Miracles

I have had a simply wonderful past few days! I have felt calm, peaceful, happy, content, watched over, supported, and loved. As I mentioned in my blog entry "The Call Has Come", I was able to watch a dear friend of mine open his mission call on Thursday. I had fun researching Toulouse, France on Friday. On Saturday I was able to attend the temple with another friend. Sunday was filled with wonderful conversations, quality time with friends, and miraculous events. I am truly blessed, and my prayers are heard.

Monday I led members of my ward in singing Christmas carols at our neighborhood care center for our ward Family Home Evening activity. I was very pleased with the number of people who came to sing, and everything went very well. It was a great evening, and it reminded me how good it feels to do things for others, even something as simple as singing songs with them.

After singing we went to our institute building to play games. Have you ever had your knuckles bruised by and air hockey puck? I have! Michael's air hockey "slap shot" is brutal! But let it be known that, despite playing with an injury, I did win the game. :)

I went to visit Kristine today and had a wonderful time chatting and catching up. She only lives about 20-25 minutes away, but when we both get busy it's hard to meet up, so today was a treat. Love that girl!

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I am looking forward to an unconventional Christmas this year. My original plans changed (and kept changing), so I am not traveling anywhere this year. My mom is coming here the day after Christmas, so I decided to stick around and do my own thing on the 24th and 25th. I get to spend Christmas Eve night with my former bishop and his wife at their house. It will be wonderful to be with them. Christmas morning Andy (my brother), Emery, Jovanni, and I will be serving breakfast to those in need at the Christian Life Center. We have to be there at 6:00 am! It will be great.

It occured to me this week that the Christmas story is one of humility. The Saviour was born in humble circumstances. He was unknown by so much of the world - a small and simple beginning. At the same time, the birth of Jesus was a glorious moment announced and celebrated with choirs of angels singing, "Halleluja!" It was a moment fortold by countless prophets -- a moment that would lead to the saving of all mankind. What a wonderful combination: humility and great glory. I believe that when we humbly perform simple, Christ-like acts, though they may seem insignificant and are certainly not as miraculous as the birth of the Saviour, they can be life-changing for those we serve. In those quiet, selfless moments, we are truly performing acts that cause angles sing, "Halleluja!"

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hodie: A Christmas Cantata

Saturday I went to Emery's concert (she sings with the choral artists society). The choir and orchestra performed Hodie. (It's pronounced "hoe-dee-ay." Not "hoe-dee" like Michael says or "hoo-dee" like I say.) It is a Christmas cantata by Ralph Vaughn Williams. Hodie means "This Day."

Luke 2:11 "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

I thoroughly enjoyed the concert. Although I like cantatas, requiems, oratorios, etc., it pains me to admit that I often have had enough after the first half hour. And I am even someone who loves music. I guess I like some variety in performances, and not every concert provides that. I love Handel's Messiah, and I don't get tired of that one (maybe because I know it so well, and particularly when it's a sing-along). And now I can say I love Hodie too. It's a little eclectic, but I like it that way.

The narrative portions of Hodie are sung by a children's choir, and the lyrics are the scriptures from Luke that tell the Christmas story. I loved hearing the familiar scriptures sung. It brought a new experience, and therefore new feeling, to the text.

Previous to the concert, since I had dropped Emery off and was there early, I was able to attend a brief lecture about Hodie and Vaughn Williams. This allowed me to enjoy and appreciate the performance even more. I learned, for example, that Williams got the text for the songs in Hodie from various famous writers and poets. My favorite poem sung that night was "The Oxen" by Thomas Hardy. I love the simple, yet unique thoughts in the poem and the word choice that paints the images and expresses the emotions so well.

I know I too am the kind of hopeful person who would follow into the gloom "hoping it might be so."

The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
"Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearth side ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
"Come; see the oxen kneel,

In the lonely barton by yonder comb
Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

By Thomas Hardy

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Call Has Come!

Last night Derrick received his mission call! He is going to Toulouse, France! He leaves April 22 for the MTC in Provo. We were all able to gather at Derrick's house last night to watch him open his call. It was so exciting and so wonderful. I'll post some pictures.

Derrick had many people on speaker phone for the opening of his call. :)

Standing at his official mission call podium

With our former bishop and his wife

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It was love at first tree...

We have a Christmas tree! Emery and I went out on Saturday to get our Christmas tree. It was cold and snowy, so fortunately when we arrived at the tree farm, we fell in love with the first tree we looked at! And that was that. After a long trek home (ok, so it was just around the block - the tree farm is in our golf course parking lot) we were ready for Christmas! Our tree is so pretty:

On Thursday I finished my last final project of the semester. It was a rough semester - I had a lot of other things on my mind, I was busy with more responsibilities at work, and I was getting over the mid grad program hump - but despite that I did very well. I got everything turned in on time, and my final presentations went very well! Hooray!

Since then, I have been running errands, doing Christmas shopping, and singing. Friday night was my ward's Christmas social. The Activities Committee had tried to get several people to provide some music for the party, however no one was able to except me. So, the result was "The Katie Show, Part II". (Now that I think about it, I don't think I ever wrote about "The Katie Show, Part I." That was the Ward Thanksgiving Talent Show. I performed in 5 numbers, including a flag routine! I want it known, however, that I only signed myself up for 1 number that night. The others I was volunteered for. I was voted "Miss Madison YSA" at the end of the night. I'll include that picture. :) Anyway, I was a little nervous at the Christmas social because I didn't really have time to prepare, but it went pretty well. I sang "Santa Baby", "Merry Christmas, Darling", and "Jingle Bells" (Barbara Streisand style). It was a fun night. I was able to have fun and talk with good friends.

Yesterday I had another fun opportunity to sing. The wife of one of our bishopric members works as a volunteer supervising tour guides at the LDS Conference Center. Her shift's volunteers were having a small luncheon previous to their shift, and she asked if Emery and I would sing Christmas songs during the meal. We asked Dennis if he would play the piano for us. Fortunately, I am off-track and Emery and Dennis were able to take a couple hours from work so we could sing. It went very well and was a nice opportunity. Everyone was very gracious and happy we were there.

This morning I dropped my car off to be serviced, then walked home in the falling snow. I loved the taking a nice, long walk. And thanks to my new gloves and old thermals it was very pleasant. I think I was walking faster than the cars waiting in the lines of traffic. :) I'm glad we do have snow now, too. I'm not a huge fan of the winter cold, particularly when it's still here in February and March, but I've come to like a nice white blanket over everything for Christmas. It's he perfect backdrop for the season.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Teaching Tidbits

Sweet Students
One of my student's sisters was a lunch worker a couple months ago. When she saw me getting my lunch she waved frantically and said, "Miss B! I'm Liz's sister! You probably know that because everyone says we look like twins."
She continued to talk a mile-a-minute about various topics, then paused and looked at me.
"Miss B, Liz really likes you. She says you are the best teacher... And she says you're not married."
"Well, thank you. And no, I'm not married."
She thought for a moment, then looked at me in complete sincerity and said, "Hmm... So beautiful, but not married..."
So sweet.

Pepperidge Farm factory
Every morning and afternoon the entire school yard smells like waffle cones. I couldn't figure it out for a long time, but finally asked another teacher where that smell was coming from. She told me just over the hill is the Pepperidge Farm factory. Now I have a visit to the factory on my list of things to do.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Watching a Heart Attack

I watched a man have a heart attack in September. I was at physical therapy and a new patient was getting ready to use the stationery bike, when he turned very white and strange looking. The physical therapist asked his assistant to stay with him and make sure he didn't fall off the bike - he wasn't responding enough to even get off - while he ran next door to the doctor's office to get help. With the help of the other doctor, they got the man to the floor on a mat. 911 was called and, since the office is very near the hospital, the paramedics arrived very quickly. They were able to determine the man had a history of heart problems, so assumed it was in fact a heart attack. I stood in the doorway of my little stretching room watching it all, completely fascinated. Needless to say, it was an interesting morning.

The man ended up being fine, from what I hear. I had never before seen something like that. Well, actually, I have seen something similar once before. I was teaching a class of sixth graders about fractions, when a very shy, red-headed boy raised a shaky hand. I asked him what was wrong, and he pointed to his lap. The girl who sat next to him was no longer sitting up next to him -- she was passed out on top of him! She came to enough to sit up again, but was totally out of it. A few moments later, she was flopped over on top of the boy again. When we finally got her to wake up enough, we wheeled her down to the office in a rolling chair. Because she was okay, it was actually quite comical. That poor boy will never be the same. :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Leader Effectiveness Training (L.E.T.) by Dr. Thomas Gordon

I was assigned to read a leadership book and answer a series of questions about it for my EDPS 6445 class. I want to include a quote from the book that summarizes Dr. Thomas Gordon's general philosophy for all human relationships. If you are interested in reading more about the book, the author, and my class responses, check out my EDPS 6445 blog. I also recommend you read the book. It takes a buisiness approach to effective relationships and leadership, but the skills taught should be transferred to any and all human relationships. Thanks to Jerry for recommending the book.

"A Credo For My Relationships

"You and I are in a relationship which I value and want to keep. Yet each of us is a separate person with unique needs and the right to meet those needs.

"When you are having problems meeting your needs, I will try to listen with genuine acceptance, in order to facilitate your finding your own solutions instead of depending on mine. I also will try to respect your right to choose your own beliefs and develop your own values, different though they may be from mine.

"However, when your behavior interferes with what I must do to get my own needs met, I will tell you openly and honestly how your behavior affects me, trusting that you respect my needs and feelings enough to try to change the behavior that is unacceptable to me. Also, whenever some behavior of mine is unacceptable to you, I hope you will tell me openly and honestly so I can try to change my behavior.

"At those times when we find that either of us cannot change to meet the other's needs, let us acknowledge that we have a conflict and commit ourselves to resolve each such conflict without either of us resorting to the use of power or authority to win at the expense of the other's losing. I respect your needs, but I also must respect my own. So let us always strive to search for a solution that will be accpetable to both of us. Your needs will be met, and so will mine - neither will lose, both will win.

"In this way, you cn continue to develop as a person through satisfying your needs, and so can I. Thus, ours can be a healthy relationship in which both of us can strive to become what we are capable of being. And we can continue to relate to each other with mutual respect, love, and peace." (p.261)

Gordon, T. (1977). Leader Effectiveness Training. New York, NY: Wyden Books.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Gingerbread Joy

I am now off-track until January 5! Hooray! But I can't completely celebrate until Friday because I have my grad school finals still remaining. Friday I'll finally get to sleep in and then perform a couple songs at my ward Christmas social that night. It will be so nice. :)

I have had a lot of fun with Andy, Mom, and nieces Kersee, Mandie, and Heidi this week. A week ago Friday Mom, Andy, and I had a nice breakfast together when I drove Mom up to Park City after her arrival at the airport. Mom and I went TV shopping then saw the new "Twilight" movie on Saturday. (By the way, the guy who plays Edward is gorgeous. ;) Sunday the three of us had "2nd Thanksgiving" up at Mom's house and were joined by Emery, her boyfriend, Michael, Brian, and Derrick.

Friday night I invited Kersee to join me in a trip down to Provo to attend Emery's mom's annual gingerbread party. She loved having a special night out with all the grown-ups. She also loved adding as much glittering sprinkles to our gingerbread house as possible. We built a team gingerbread house. I was in charge of the frosting glue, eating candy, validating Kersee and making Kersee laugh. She was in charge of the house and garden design, placing candy and sprinkles into the glue, telling me to stop eating all the candy, asking me if her ideas were good, and making me laugh. We made a good team.

Yesterday I went with Mom and the girls to Zoolights. We had a great time. The park is decorated with all kinds of Christmas lights shaped like animals and holiday symbols. It's dark, so many of the animals are sleeping during Zoolights, but we got to see a leopard and some big horn sheep. We also had some fabulous glasses that cause you to see a snowman everywhere there is a light bulb. Highlights of the night included the girls looking cute in their snow hats, the ooing and ahing at the lights, and Heidi repeating over and over in the car, "Honey, Honey. I'm cute! Honey, Honey. I'm cute!"