Friday night I had the opportunity to travel to Logan to Thirteen-Eight Productions recording studio and record vocals for the title track of the independent short film Two Travelers. The song's lyrics were written by Dave Morgan and the music was composed by Adam Ward. (Adam is my best friend Kristine's husband.) In addition to composing the song, Adam also performed the piano accompaniment and the male vocals of the duet. When he asked if I would record the duet with him, I was thrilled. I've been hired to record music three or four times before - once before in a recording studio - but it has been a while. I was a little nervous, but I was able relax more as the night went on, and I think it went well. I loved singing, I appreciated getting feedback from everyone to help achieve the desired sound, and I loved watching John, the studio owner, work his magic on the computer to help us create a polished product. The hope is that the film will be accepted into independent film festivals, such as Sundance. I hope it does well. I know the director and his father (Dave) have worked hard on this project. I was so pleased to be asked to participate. If you would like to hear the song, I believe Adam will be posing it on his website soon, so feel free to check it out.
I should have known there was more to my release from my calling as Stake Sports Director than just a release. But, I still didn't see it coming - not this soon, at least - even when my bishop set up an appointment for me to meet with him. Despite my inability to recognize the signs, I am thrilled about my new calling as my ward's Young Women President. I am nervous and excited to serve in this capacity. I love the girls I am working with, and I am humbled to be asked to lead them. It's going to be a fun adventure!
Heat oven to 350º. Unwrap Rollos. Place Rollos on waxed paper on a cookie sheet. Bake for 2 minutes. Immediately push a mini twisty pretzel onto each melty Rollo. Let cool. Pull the waxed paper off the cookie sheet to remove the Rollos/pretzels.
Today was the first day of school for students in my new school district. A big day! We have all been working so hard to have things ready for today. I have loved being in the trenches and being part of the effort to ensure a great educational experience for our students. I love the team I work with, our department, and our district leaders. Our superintendent is a great leader - caring, intelligent, energetic - and the IT department directors are too. I feel so happy to be part of such a great team.
Now I am anxious and excited to really get to work with teachers and students. It feels good to work hard, problem solve, and really make a difference. I am working hard to earn the trust of the teachers and principals at my assigned schools. I have loved the teaching and presenting I have done so far.
First day memorable moments:
Wearing a bright yellow district T-shirt and having everyone stare at me all day
Sitting in the computer lab working on teacher laptops and looking up in time to see a 2nd grader making funny faces at me as she walked down the hall
Talking with the superintendent for 20 minutes and having him genuinely enjoying conversing with me
Being able to say hello to my former principal and coworkers as I traveled from school to school
Helping a lost 2nd grader find her bus - and her smile when we found it
"Thank you"s from teachers when their laptops were returned and ready for use
Passionate conversations about how best to help students through good teaching practices and technology use
Sharing in everyone's first day experiences via Twitter
Jethro puncturing his Coke can with a plastic knife and causing it to explode
Liz sharing her ugly stick doll with everyone
The enthusiasm and nervousness of first-year teachers
Hard-working, dedicated teachers, students, administrators, and district employees
I feel fortunate and excited to have my new position as an Educational Technology Specialist! I love being a part of the new district! It's going to be a great year!
I’ve been super busy over the last few weeks. What I thought was going to be a nice summer break with a few days of work has turned into work every day. Fortunately, I am loving my job and the people I am working with. I finished up the two summer classes I have been taking. My final project was a web site I built to teach kids dance from various decades. I think it’s pretty cool. But I am having trouble posting it. It keeps getting written over by my 30 Minute Lab Lessons site. When I get the problem solved, you should check it out: decadesofdance.net . Now I just have to apply to get the multimedia endorsement I earned by taking the classes.
The biggest recent event for me was the stake youth pioneer trek. I was called and set apart to be an “aunt” for the trek. We spent 3 days and 2 nights out in the wilderness southwest of Utah Lake reenacting the experiences of the Mormon pioneer handcart companies. We wore pioneer clothing, ate pioneer food, sang pioneer songs, and pushed pioneer hand carts. Everything we packed for the trek, except our sleeping bags and pillows, had to fit into a 5 gallon bucket. That was not an easy task. I admit I rolled up my PJs into my sleeping bag because I couldn’t get them into my bucket. :) We were assigned to families with a Pa, a Ma, about 9 children, and an aunt or uncle. Our family was great. It was so fun to get to know them so closely through our experiences together.
We walked a total of about 20 miles in 3 days. That’s not too terribly far, but we did have to push the hand cart with all our belongings for all 20 miles. The first day we had many casualties. Two people sprained their ankles and many had really bad blisters. The sweet Karen speaking kids -- refugees from Myanmar -- have never really worn shoes before, and their feet really suffered. We had 2 sweet girls in our “family” that had been given donated shoes to wear. One of them was walking in shoes that were 2 sizes too small! Every one of her toes, both heels, and the soles of her feet had blisters. But, they smiled the whole time and never complained. I ended up literally carrying them to the first aid truck because they could no longer walk. That night at camp they invited me to eat with them. And when it was decided that they needed to go home, they hugged me and hugged me when we said goodbye. They were so sweet and such good examples.
One of the most emotional and spiritual experiences on trek was when the men were taken away on the second day to serve in the Mormon Battalion. The women were left to pull the carts alone through the most difficult part of the trail. Usually to get the carts to move, 4 people pulled on the handles in the front and 4 people pushed from behind. But, many of our families only had 3 or 4 women left after losing so many kids the first day. We knew right away it would be a struggle. As we watched the men march away, one of the leaders told us the story of a woman who was not even LDS but had come across the plains because her husband, who had joined the church, asked her to. She loved him and she trusted him, so she went. He died on the journey, leaving her to pull their cart with their 7 children. Within 21 days of her husband’s death, 5 of their children also died. And yet, she continued on to the Salt Lake Valley, finishing the journey her husband had believed in. Of course, that story caused all of us to start our women’s pull with our hearts full of emotion.
The women’s pull was hard. We pulled in total silence for a quarter mile so we could think about the difficulties the pioneer women had faced. The lead hand cart struggled so much to pull through the deep sand that they had to stop and signal for help. I left my family because we had 5 women, and I ran up to the lead cart to help them. They were all in tears when I started to help them pull. As we approached the top of the hill we were climbing, we saw the men lined up on either side of the trail. As we pushed and pulled through, exhausted, thirsty, and out of breath, the men began to hum “The Spirit of God”. The spirit was so strong. For the women, it was incredible to experience the strength of the priesthood in this very literal way. And for the men, it was an awakening to love and respect they have for the women in their lives and their silent strength. The testimonies borne after this experience brought tears to my eyes.
I loved the opportunity to associate with everyone on trek. The youth have so much power to do good. And the Ma’s and Pa’s set such good examples as they worked together and supported one another. We all got extremely dirty, tired, eaten by mosquitos, rained on, wind blown, and blistered, but we had a blast. I danced and sang and told jokes with the kids. We cried when family members, including me, “died” and had to leave the family. We celebrated when we all made it to the “Salt Lake Valley” and were reunited with our “families”. It was a wonderful experience. I am grateful I was asked to participate.
I had a dream the other night that a friend of mine was a famous singer named “The Hood.” He wanted his true identity to be a secret so he wouldn’t be hounded by fans and paparazzi, so he always wore a big, red hoodie to hide his face. In my dream I was out running errands when he and his entourage passed by with a crowd of screaming fans following him. I asked someone who he was and what the big deal was, and an astonished girl (how could I not know who he was, after all?) told me, “That is The Hood! He’s only the greatest hip hop singer EVER!” Then, as he got in his limo, I somehow got a look at his face and was so confused. “But that’s my friend,” I said. The crowd froze and stared at me. Then they all went crazy again and started yelling things like, “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe you know him!” Strange dream. My two other dreams that night were about my boss not saving me seats at a concert just to be mean to me and people changing into fish when exposed to intense heat. So having a friend who is a hip hop star with a secret identity doesn't sound so strange after all.
Work has been pretty hectic. We only have a few more weeks until this brand-new district has to be fully functional! We are frequently asked to drop whatever we are doing to help the techs with the grunt work. We all pitch in wherever we are needed. It’s pretty cool actually. I really feel like I’m part of a great team. I did get my school assignments, so that’s exciting. I will still get to work with my former principal! Hooray! I’m looking forward to working with the teachers and principals once this initial running around helping with tech issues is done.
I am still busy with things around the house and with both my church callings. Softball season is going. We were finally able to get the city to allow us to play at Granite High School Thursday nights. Everyone whined so much about having to get up early on Saturday mornings last year, so we changed it. And now they whine about the sun setting in their eyes. Oh well. :) I need to convince the stake to let me buy some decent mitts. My hand is bruised and swollen from using the lame little mitt we have. It’s fun though.
Yesterday I was sitting in the drive through at Wendy’s to try the new Spicy Asian Chicken, when all of a sudden a police car drove in the out driveway and stopped in front of my car. Another police SUV drove up next to me. Then another police car sped in the out driveway and stopped next to an SUV that was in front of me waiting for their order to be ready. “What is going on here?” I wondered.
“Everyone put your hands out of the car windows! Now! Hands where I can see them!” one of the offices shouted. All three officers walked cautiously toward the SUV in front of me. I just sat there and stared while the Wendy’s worker held my bag of food out the drive through window and stared too. The officers had three people, two girls and one guy about my age, get out of the car and sit on the curb. One officer started questioning them while another looked in the car. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, so I had no idea what was going on.
After waiting a couple minutes, I decided I should probably go. The Wendy’s girls asked if I could get out. I ended up backing out the drive through and exiting the in driveway. I still have no idea what it was all about, but it was my exciting adventure for the day!
1. What is the first thing you do in the morning? Push the snooze button 2. What color is your favorite hoodie? Greenish with maroon stitching 3. Whats the closest thing to you that's red? A backpack 4. Did you meet anybody new today? No, but I did talk to the mailman 5. What comes to mind when I say cabbage? Cabbage Patch Kids 6. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it? Lick it 7. What are you listening to right now? A movie playing on the television 8. Would you go sky diving? I don't think so. 9. Do you like cottage cheese? I used to like it with pepper, but now I'm lactose intolerant. 10. Have you ever met a celebrity? Yes 11. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in? A piece of glass I found on the floor 12. Ever been on a train? Yes. I went on a train in Michigan. 13. Do you have a cell-phone? Yes - an iPhone. And I just got a Blackberry for work. 14. Do you use chapstick? Sometimes. I like raspberry flavored. 15. Do you own a gun? No 16. Can you use chop sticks? No 17. Ever have cream puffs? Yes, but I can't anymore 18. Are you sarcastic? Sometimes, but I don't really like to be 19. Ever walked into a wall? Yes, more than I'd like to admit. And I always end up with bruises on my arms because of it. 20. Do you have good vision? Not really 21. What are you wearing? A T-shirt with a skull and a rose. :) 22. Can you hula hoop? Not very well 23. Have you ever crawled through a window? Yes. I used to climb out the bedroom window at my house where I grew up. No particular reason, I just thought it was fun. I climbed in the window at my old condo when I forgot my key.
Yesterday was my first official day at my new job as an Educational Technology Specialist. We had a brief orientation, talked about schedules, and got our new computers and Blackberries. (I still prefer my iPhone.) :) I'm very excited about the work I will be doing! I will be spending most of my time out in the schools working with teachers and helping them use technology in their teaching.
It was sad last week saying goodbye to my students, teammates, classroom, and especially my principal. I don't know if or when I'll be back in the classroom again, so it was hard to leave. I've been working with my principal for all eight years I have taught, and he is so great to work with, so that was hard too. But, I am excited for a new opportunity. I am excited to work with teachers and with technology. It's exciting to be using what I have been studying in grad school. I always like trying new things.
The last week of school was crazy and busy, as it always is.
9:00 am - 6th Grade All-Stars vs. Teachers Softball Game
2:00 pm - Dance Rehearsal
2:40 pm - Softball
I was pretty worn out after Monday's events, but they were all very fun. The teachers had an unusually good softball team this year! We won the game 23 to 13. Most of the students' points were scored toward the end of the game as the teachers began to tire out. :) We had some great fielding and some great hits. I was quite proud of the line drive I hit just inside the 3rd base line. :)
8:40 am - Rocket Launch
10:45 am - Awards Assembly
12:40 - View News Broadcasts
2:00 pm - Dance Rehearsal
2:40 pm - Softball
Tuesday was another tiring day. The rocket launch went very well thanks to "The Rocket Man" who came to help us launch. Those rockets went so high! Many of them ended up in the back yards and on the roofs of neighboring houses.
9:00 am - Beach Day
1:00 pm - 6th Grade Dance
The kids had a great time playing water games out on the field. Austyn was particularly entertaining during the water baseball game as he was constantly doing flips into the kiddie pools that were the bases so he could stay nice and wet. The dance was great fun too. We danced to all kinds of music and the kids got the chance to dance all of the decades dance routines we have been practicing for the last couple months.
12:40 pm 6th Grade Auction
3:00 pm GarageBand CDs and Report Cards Distributed
We finished the year off well with our big sixth grade auction. All the sixth grade money the kids had earned throughout the year was spent on candy, sports equipment, supplies for jr. high, and technology items. They all went away with excitement for the summer, a little sadness saying goodbye, and nervousness for 7th grade. It was a great year with a great group of kids!
I took a couple days off of work so I could drive some of my Laurels (16 to 18-year-old girls) to girls camp between their driver's education classes. After only two days and one night at camp, I managed to come home with a funky sunburn and some fun memories. The sunburn occurred because of a malfunctioning bottle of spray-on sunscreen. It wouldn’t spray on evenly, so now my arms are all spotted, so I look like a leopard, and my forehead and arms are striped. It’s not a good look for me. Oh well.
The theme of our camp this year was "The Road to Virtue". Our ward was named the Wandafizzle Triumph Biker Chicks. Diane, our ward camp director, had everyone create motorcycles using balloons, pool noodles, and duct tape. My bike was nicknamed "The Witch" because we ran out of pool noodles and I had to use a broom. They were so funny. Diane has to be the most creative person I've ever known. We wore green bandanas and brightly colored ponchos we made. Every time we were called to flag ceremony, we rode through the pasture on our motorcycles singing our ward cheer: "At the sound of TRIUMPH, on to victory!" We were so cool.
In the time I was there, we made necklaces with dog tags, decorated flip flops, did a service project, took a hike, made ice cream in cans, sang songs, watched a movie (Johnny Lingo), kidnapped campers then set them free by listing 15 great things about them, performed a skit titled "Poncho Libre", looked at the constellations, talked, laughed, ate, listened to our stake president speak, and bore our testimonies. It was a great experience. I loved getting to know the girls in new circumstances and surroundings. We have a wonderful group of young women!
Shortly after receiving my Master's, I applied to be an educational technology specialist for the new school district. I found out Friday that I got the job! I am very excited. It will be different not being in the classroom next year, but I am excited for the opportunity to learn and try new things and to help teachers use technology more effectively in their teaching. So, only three more weeks of being a 6th grade teacher, then new adventures!
On May 8, 2009 I graduated with my Master's degree in Instructional Design and Educational Technology! It was a wonderful day -- the sun was shining, flowers were everywhere, it was the perfect temperature, and the sky was a brilliant blue. My mom and her husband, Ron, were able to attend, and it was a pleasure spending the day with them. Following the two ceremonies, we met up with Andy, Emery, Michael, and Brian for dinner. It was great to have them all with me to celebrate. I'm done!
On April 22 my dear friend Derrick entered the Missionary Training Center. He will be serving a two-year mission for the LDS church in Toulouse, France. I am so excited for him and so proud of him. He is sacrificing a lot to serve others and do what he knows his Heavenly Father wants him to do. I wish him all the best and can't wait to hear about his experiences.
Before his departure, Derrick gave a wonderful, inspiring talk in church. Brian, Emery, and I were privileged to be able to sing in the church meeting as well. All who were in attendance would agree that it was a great experience to be at that meeting.
We were able to have Derrick and a few friends over for one last gathering before his two years away. We served French food, laughed, had good conversation, and made sure Derrick had a chance to play with his WiiMii before leaving. We had a great time.
Derrick will be greatly missed while he is gone. It is a comfort, however, to know that he is doing exactly what Heavenly Father wants him to do. He and his friends and family will be blessed for his willingness to put aside his life to serve others. I know he will be an incredible missionary.
Our original plan was to head to Copenhagen today, but with the cost of train tickets and the limited amount of time we would have had there, we decided to stay and see a few more things in Berlin. We started the day meeting Meera, a friend of Casey's, for breakfast at the Starbucks near Brandenburg Gate. Brittney, Ellie, Peyton, Emery, and I all went. We had a great time talking to Meera and laughing at Ellie's antics. She was in great form this morning. :) We took pictures with some of the street performers at the Brandenburg Gate. The man with the silver face was a little disturbing to Ellie at first - - frankly, he was a little disturbing to me too - but she warmed right up to the two soldiers. After having her picture taken with them, she gave them each a high five and a fist pound. Emery, Meera, and I went to visit the Reichstag after breakfast while Brittney took the girls home to nap. The building is home to the German parliament and is an interesting combination of old and new architecture. The newest addition to the building is a glass dome that we were able to walk inside of. There are mirrors down the middle of the dome that create a dizzying effect. From the top of the dome, we were able to have a great 360º view of the city. We went to the Jewish memorial once again so Meera could see it. This time we were able to spend a little time down in the underground museum. We didn't spend too much time since we had already seen so many emotional Hollocaust photos and artifacts this week. The museum has a great architectural design, but the information was quite difficult to read. The photos were some of the more disturbing of all the ones I have seen this week. The floor of the second room displayed actual letters from concentration camp prisoners that somehow made their way to family members. The most difficult to read were those about what happened to children and babies in the concentration camps. Terrible.
Before heading back to the apartment, we had to give Meera the chance to eat a Doner Kebab. So tasty! When we got home, we played with Ellie for a while. She decided to use her "crab claw" (tongs) to eat her strawberries. This wasn't always successful. We also called Nana to wish her a happy birthday. If you haven't noticed, Ellie really likes to take her clothes off. Later, Ellie came into the bedroom Emery and I were staying in and started jumping on Emery's bed. Ellie loves to play with phones, particularly iPhones. She knows how to get to the applications to play games like "The Wheels on the Bus" on Britt's phone. My phone is extra enticing because right now it has a purple/pink case with stars on it. So, when she asked to see "the star phone", I pulled it out and told her I would play some music for her. She danced and danced to Beyoncé and Jamiroquai. She cracked me up! She started doing a "CRAZY" dance, and I laughed so hard -- not just one of those you're a cute little girl laughs, but full-on laughing. It was so great.
Emery and I did some final shopping on the Ku Damm for gifts and chocolate to take home with us. I ended the night with dinner and conversation with Meera, Brittney, and Emery. Girl talk is always good. :)
This morning we dropped Casey off at the bus for his road trip with the team, then Britt dropped Emery and me off at Checkpoint Charlie so we could go through all the displays and monuments about the Berlin Wall.
It was freezing cold standing there reading all the posters along the street, but I wanted to read all about it anyway, so I wrapped myself up as much as possible and hung in there.
Post-war Europe was still very unstable. Germany, and the city of Berlin, had been divided and placed under the control of France, Great Britain, The United States, and Russia. Russia controlled East Germany and East Berlin. West Germany adopted a government based on capitalism, a social market economy, and a democratic parliament. East Germany's government, known as the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (German Democratic Republic, or the DDR), became authoritarian and had a Soviet-style economy. People who lived in East Germany began to move to West Germany because they did not like the new oppressive East German government. East German leaders were afraid that if everyone left, the East German economy would crumble, so on August 13, 1961 they started construction of a wall dividing the entire city and told the people they were not allowed to leave the country. Can you imagine your government telling you that you could not leave?
The wall went up quickly, barbed wire baricades turning into cement walls and militarized checkpoints. Some neighborhoods were split in half by the wall. Buildings, including churches and homes, were torn down and replaced by the two portions of the wall (the east and west walls) and the "death strip" in between. Families were divided, commuters were not allowed to return to work on the other side of the city, and anyone who dared try to escape the oppression was shot on the spot. I am certain the people of Germany were terrified. They knew of the horrible events of World War II. They knew that Stalin, the Soviet leader, had originally been an ally of Hitler. I personally don't think anyone trusted Stalin when treaties were made at the end of the war, but what could they do? The Allies needed Russia's help to defeat the Nazi army.
At one point there was a stand-off at Checkpoint Charlie. It began on 22 October, 1961 as a dispute over whether East German guards were authorized to examine the travel documents of a U.S. diplomat passing through to East Berlin. Soviet and American tanks stood facing eachother from opposite sides of the checkpoint, poised to shoot. The world waited for what they felt sure would be the start of World War III, but after hours of waiting, the stand-off ended peacefully thanks to negotiations by President John F. Kennedy.
It was impressive to me that a main reason why the Berlin Wall came down was protests by the people. They demanded to have the basic right to move around as they pleased. Also amazing to me is the fact that this just barely happend. The wall was not built hundreds of years ago, it was built in 1961! I was in sixth grade when the Berlin Wall came down on November 9, 1989. Only 20 years ago!
We wandered around the basement of the Checkpoint Charlie museum, which was very odd. There were all these brick rooms with nothing in them. One room had what looked like a strange marlbe alter, but it turned out to be just cloth on top of a table. I was eerie down there, and perhaps because we needed a little comic relief, we decided to play:
After exploring the Checkpoint Charlie displays and reading the stories of those who tried to escape and those who worked to tear down the Iron Curtain we took photos with the "guards" who now stand at the old checkpoint. We proceded down the street to view one of the largest remaining sections of the Berlin Wall. (Note: We found this section of the wall thanks to Emery's great "Alias" investigatory skills! We didn't know where it was, but Emery had taken a picture of it on our bus tour. She was very clever. It was impressive.)
We then toured the outdoor museum entitled "Topography of Terror". The museum is at the site of the former SS, Gestapo, and Nazi Party buildings. The buildings themselves were destroyed so that they would not become a mecca to Neo Nazis, but construction is underway to create a memorial to those whose lives were taken by the orders that came from those buildings before and during World War II. I cannot even begin to describe the things I read about and the pictures I saw at this museum. It all begins to be too much to handle. Let me just say that "Topography of Terror" is an accurate title. We visited the current German House of Representatives, I bought a scarf from a man Emery and I dubbed the Turkish George Cloony, then we walked down Freidrich Strasse, known for its great shopping. My favorite store was the Mini store. :) After an educational and enjoyable, though long, emotionally draining, and freezing cold day, Emery and I needed to relax a bit. We took Harley for a walk and picked up dinner for the two of us and Britt at Va Piano, an excellent Italian restaurant. After eating, the three of us rented "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" from iTunes and enjoyed a chick-flick night.
"Enjoy faith. Remember, too, that your faith covers all portions of life’s trail. You can have clear faith in the ultimate outcomes at the end of the trail but still find vexing uncertainties in the steps immediately ahead. The Lord knows the end from the beginning and everything in between. You, however, function in the muddled, mortal middle. Both the help and comfort of the Holy Ghost are thus much needed for the short run too! Hence, you are to proceed with your lives within what is allotted to you." ~Elder Neal A. Maxwell
"Come what may, and love it." ~Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us: it’s in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson
"Every jumbled pile of persons has a thinking part that wonders what the part that isn't thinking isn't thinking of." -They Might Be Giants
The Premiere of "Julius Caesar" by my 6th Grade Class