Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Things I Learned in 2008

  1. If you overextend yourself there is nothing left in the tank. Saying yes to everything at work, makes me very successful at work but it means I sacrifice my personal life.
  2. Greatness is attainable – as witnessed by the Beijing Olympics and the triumphs of Michael Phelps and Dara Torres. I don’t have their athletic ability nor do I really want it – but they set goals for themselves which others ridiculed and deemed impossible and then they rose to the challenge. Just because my dreams and goals are lofty that does not mean they are not attainable.
  3. Ask for help. I still have a hard time with this one, but when you reach out to others they can often surprise you by their compassion and love.
  4. Enjoy the moment. This year I was able to attend performances by individuals I didn’t think would ever happen – George Michael and The New Kids on the Block. I am a huge fan of both and to be able to see them in the same year doing what they love and excelling at it - is thrilling. They feel like older brothers to me, and I have loved cheering as I have seen them grow and become more successful. The soundtrack to some of my most cherished memories of my childhood and adolescent years is their music.
  5. Be silly. I got to spend time with each of my nieces and nephews this year. I love that as we played together we could just be silly and there is such joy to be had in looking at life through the eyes of a child. I can understand when parent say that watching their child succeed is far better than if they had achieved it themselves. Watching my nieces and nephews reaction to different events and activities was more exciting to me than my actual participation in the event.
  6. Do things that you aren't good at. I often only participate in activities and hobbies where I can succeed. The only way we can really grow is to go out on a limb and try something different. It is through doing something poorly that we can experience the real thrill of success and accomplishment. I painted my first picture this year and began to write my first book. Neither would be considered a triumph by the world, but by pushing myself I inspired myself again.
  7. Always make goals. I am a goal setter, but I am not always a goal finisher. I am working on keeping my goals more attainable and realistic. My book writing taught me how I can structure my time more efficiently. Although I didn't finish it in 30 days, it will be done soon and that is a huge breakthrough.
  8. Say thanks. As the financial world was crumbling this fall I started to directly focus on all the great things I have been blessed with. My father in heaven has been generous to me. Far more than I deserve most of the time. My blessings are more abundant than my trials.
  9. Remember. I am terrible at journal writing, email writing, letter writing, and any kind of writing. Although I credit myself with a good memory I don't remember everything. The process of writing a blog this year has been a good reminder to me to reflect and remember my life. It is only through writing down all the blessings I talked about in point eight that we can really see the guidance and support from god and others in our lives.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Interesting Discovery

I am not one to throw things away, but since arriving back home from my short trip to Idaho I have been determined to go through all (or most of) my stuff and get rid of it. Yesterday I was knee-deep (no joke) in my closet rifling through all of my crap and today I spent the better part of 8 hours taking pictures and posting items for sale on ebay. Those items that I can't sell will be donated to DI or thrown away. I enjoy the process of deep cleaning and I don't do it very often because it takes a long time, but with the break I had no excuse.

In the midst of all my cleaning I decided to look through my letter box. Going back to my first statement...I don't usually throw things away and as I read through years of birthday cards, Christmas cards, get-well cards and other miscellaneous cards I made some interesting discoveries.

I need to disclose some information first...I don't make friends easily. I think of myself as a friendly person, yet I am usually quiet and I am not terribly assertive in relationships and often that means that I don't accumulate a large number of friends. I also have a circle of friends that I think of as my "best friends" and all the rest of my close friends circle just outside my inner group.

With that explained I will go back to my discoveries. First, I was amazed at the sheer volume of cards and letters I had. Of course some of my cards date back to high school and I have had plenty of years to accumulate them. Second, I have amazing people in my life not only my family but also my friends.

I am not a person who dwells on the past or spends much time being sad, but even just reading my get-well-cards when I had cancer made me feel special and loved. Third discovery I made, was that my circle of friends, I don't often think of as my best friends, are the ones that have actually been the most stable, supportive, and communicative friends. Now, I don't say this to criticize my best friends. Lives change, stresses come into our lives, relationships evolve. I am aware of this and I fully acknowledge that I'm not a perfect friend. Maintaining my relationships with my inner circle has been one of my great regrets over the last few years. But looking at all this stuff made me realize that I need to nurture and develop some of those relationships that I haven't paid much attention too and learn to let go of those relationships that aren't growing anymore.

Tonight, I went and saw Valkyrie with my friend Travis. We only see each other every couple of years, but it is the kind of friendship that seems to defy time. We can pick up right where we left off as though no time as passed at all. I love hanging out with him because all I do is laugh. He and I had a long conversation about this topic and I think he gets me because like myself he is also single. With no husband or kids in the picture all I have are my relationships with my friends and my friendship with my family.

I am blessed to have a large network of people who love me. I sometimes forget this because the vast majority of my network don't live close and I rarely, if ever, get to see them. With a new year ready to dawn soon and new adventures and journeys for me to take, I need to always remember and cherish those that enrich and bless my life.

So to my friends and family, thank you for what you teach me about myself and about life.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 Favorites

The items on my list appear in no particular order.

Favorite Books:
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Roma by Steven Saylor
Pillars of the Earth & Worlds Without End by Ken Follett

Favorite Movies:
The Dark Knight
Iron Man

Twilight

Penelope

There are a few more days left in the year and I have a few more movies to see, so this list might change.

Favorite Albums:
19 by Adele
We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. by Jason Mraz
The Block by New Kids on the Block
Viva la Vida by Coldplay

Favorite TV Shows:
The Office
Pushing Daisies (will be canceled in 2009)
Top Chef

Most Interesting Places Visited:
Guggenheim museum in New York City.
Salem, Mass.

Best Shows/Concerts:
George Michael, June
Michael Buble, May
New Kids on the Block, September & October

Best Restaurants:
Grimaldi's Pizzeria, NYC & Las Vegas
Boat House, NYC
Serendipity 3, NYC
Pelligrino, NYC

Saturday, December 27, 2008

White Christmas

This year I traveled to the snowy paradise of Rexburg, Idaho to spend Christmas with my parents and my brother Doug and his family. Like last year there was tons of snow and we had fun just spending most of our time indoors. One of the highlights of visiting my parents is the $3 movie theater. Matinee prices are only $2 and so I was able to see 5 movies during my stay; The City of Ember, Eagle Eye, High School Musical 3, The Duchess, and The Secret Life of Bees. I enjoyed all the movies and had I stayed longer, I would have seen even more.

Saturday, December 20th, everyone except my father (who was working at the temple) drove to Inkom, Idaho to have an early Christmas dinner with my aunt & uncle and with my cousin and her kids. The dinner was delicious and we had a great time chatting.

Christmas morning we awoke to yet another foot of snow and the dilmena of getting out of the driveway to drive to my brother's house to open gifts. After 35 minutes of shoveling to get out of the driveway we managed to make it to Sugar City and we enjoyed the morning opening gifts and chatting.


Doug & Marnie's Christmas Tree and all the gifts

Doug and Marnie's highlight was a very long phone call from my nephew Scott who is currently on his mission in North Carolina. I was able to spend a few minutes chatting with him and it was wonderful to hear his voice.

Here are pictures of Christmas morning at my brother's house...


The view from Doug's front door Christmas morning.


My mom got this tiny shirt from her sister-in-law...who knew it would fit!


My niece Taylor getting emotional over the framed drama picture of her high school's performance of Les Miserables. She played Fantine.


My dad got an awesome suede 49er's coat from Doug and Marnie.

Doug and Marnie looking at their gifts.

With a day of continued flurries we left in mid-afternoon to drive back home before it got dark. This time we got stuck getting back into the parking lot of my parent's town house and some neighbors came out to give us a push to get back to my parents garage. My mother who didn't want to drive asked me to take the wheel and steer the car back to their house, but she made the unwise decision to push the car from the driver side window. Of course as soon as the car started moving she went down, but she dropped and rolled like a commando, kicking her legs out of the way of the tires and just yelled "Keep going!" I worried I had killed her but like a good daughter I kept driving. Fortunately we got the car into the garage and my mom was fine, just a little wet.

Friday night I flew back to Las Vegas and I will attempt to get a mountain of work accomplished before school resumes on the 5th of January. My Christmas was wonderful and I hope yours was as well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Day

Yesterday Las Vegas received an incredible amount of snow and by the end of the day there was very little visibility. The school district decided to cancel all sports games and other on-campus activities Wednesday evening.

The district announced that they would decide by 4:00 a.m. on Thursday if school would be canceled. All evening my students were calling and texting me to see if there was going to be school.

At 8:30 p.m. the announcement was made that there would be no school on Thursday "for the protection and safety of the students." Tiffany and I were thrilled. I had a stack of projects that needed to be completed before I left town for the holidays and having the extra day was a much needed blessing.

The amusing part of this story is the fact that when I woke up on Thursday morning there was a little bit of snow on the ground and by mid-morning everything had melted. I have included two pictures; the first shows the only snow at our apartment and the second picture shows the view of my high school from my front porch...not much snow to be seen.




Tomorrow is our last day of school before winter break and I am curious about how many of my students will end up attending.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Silence

For the last few days I have not felt well. Not too unusual given the time of year. This morning when I woke up I discovered that my voice had vanished. I have to say that it is extraordinarily difficult to teach by speaking only at whisper level. In fact, during my regular world history classes, I still had a lecture of sorts to deliver.

I will give credit to my students, who were fantastic all day. My two regular classes which have been a handful all year have settled down for me and today they were perfect angels. It was virtually silent all period in class with the students doing everything they could to help interpret for me.

Tuesday, I had a sub because I was giving a presentation for AVID schools in our district with my new position as an AVID Leadership Cadre member. Today, the office manager stopped me to inform me that my sub said that my classes were the best she had ever seen in high school. She loved my students, thought my room was cozy and lovely and she stated that she would love to come back and sub any time. I'm glad that my students are living up to my expectations in regards to their behavior, now if only that would stem to their grades and homework.

I am hopeful that my voice will return tomorrow. Forced silence only makes me appreciate the fact that I have a voice. I spent most of my day thinking about my little nephew Garrison, who was diagnosed with autism this past year, and is only now beginning to speak. I was frustrated by a few hours of being unable to communicate so it gave me a small glimpse into what he must have felt not being able to say anything.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Morbid Fascination

Tonight, for some reason, I was wasting time online (instead of writing my novel) and I decided to look at Rueter's images of the year. Initially, I just thought that the pictures would be a collection of some of the most beautiful and striking scenes/people taken this year. I wasn't wrong, but I did not take into consideration the utter destruction, mass chaos, wars, refugees and natural disasters of the past year. The pictures were both horrifying and humorous. From the picture of a frog riding a small motorcycle to children crouched in horrendous living conditions and bathing in putrid water the pictures never failed to astonish me.

Although I teach world history and ready history books all the time, nights like this remind me of about how little I know and about how little I am teaching my students. Often times I complain about how many things are going wrong with my life until I realize that I have never feared for my life, watched a family member gunned down, lived through a natural disaster, or been forced to starve.

We live in a big, messed up world that is sometimes tragic, but can also be overwhelmingly beautiful. There are hundreds of countries, languages, religions and ideas that I know nothing about - but with our wonderful modern technology I can know what happens in Kenya, Thailand, Romania or Qatar.

This Christmas season is not like others I have remembered in years past. I have friends who are dealing with the devasting illness of family members, relatives forced to make difficult decisions about employment and a job that never gets any easier; however, it is imperative that I look at what Christmas means. Not in the commercial "what will I buy my brother" way, but in the true message of hope, peace and love.

It is never going to get any prettier out there, but it is up to me to find beauty every day even if it isn't obvious.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Get to Know You

I pulled this off my friend Lisa's blog and I decided to complete her challenge.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I love gift wrapping and I don’t often use bags, unless it is an oddly shaped item and I can’t find a box.

2. Real or Artificial tree?
Real trees smell amazing, but I always have an artificial one.

3. When do you put up the tree?
Normally the weekend of Thanksgiving, but this year my roommate and I decided that because we would be in town less than three weeks before Christmas that we wouldn’t bother.
Now that she discovered mold in her closet, we can’t access any of our stuff, so it works out.

4. When do you take the tree down?
New Year’s Eve, it is a good way to get ready to usher in a new year.

5. Do you like eggnog?
No, never have.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
The Barbie house my dad made for me.
I had always wanted one, and he built this gigantic contraption. It was awesome. I ended up making furniture for it.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
I have a hard time buying anything for my dad, because he never asks for anything.
Of course he loves everything I get him (or so he says) but it isn’t easy.

8. Easiest person to buy for?
My mom, all year long I gather gifts together for her.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes I am really picky with the style, but I finally bought one that has Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
I want to get one that includes a stable, shephards, wise men, and everything else, but I haven’t found one set that I love.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
I started sending out Christmas cards as soon as I moved away from home as a freshman in college.
It is always lovely to get a card in the mail.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
As a child it was a fake cabbage patch doll. I was in the second grade and I was so embarrassed when I got the generic doll. My friends at school brought their dolls one day to play with at recess and I felt ashamed to bring mine. Of course, I didn't realize how much they cost or what my parents had to do to get it....all I thought about was how different I was from my friends. My parents knew of my anger and for my birthday 4 months later, I got a "real" one.

During my adult years, the worst gift ever gotten was from a coworker. We had the annual "Secret Santa" gift exchange and I dutifully filled out my inventory list of easy items someone could purchase for me and the person had gone to the nearest Deseret Industries and stocked up on $0.25 items (cheap frames and vases). I know how much they cost because the price tags were still affixed to the bottom. I am positive she knew this and wanted to let me know just how much she liked me.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Who doesn’t love a “Christmas Story?”
I think I have seen it more than 30 times, but it doesn’t get old. My new favorite movie is “The Nativity Story” it is a beautiful telling of the biblical story.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I think about my shopping all year, but it usually doesn’t start until August or September.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Yes, I think it is perfectly acceptable, especially if you know someone else would love the gift. I don’t recycle anything that is crappy…those things I just donate.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
White chocolate covered popcorn, toffee, cookies, cranberry-orange bread, hot chocolate, and anything else that is sweet.
Christmas is a great year to load up on all the yummy treats possible.

16. Lights on the tree?
All white- my favorite thing to do is turn off all the lights in the house and just sit and look at the Christmas tree.
Seeing the ornaments glow is magical. Every year I try to wake up early on Christmas morning to look at the tree and all of the gifts before anyone else is awake.

17. Favorite Christmas songs?
“O Holy Night” by Josh Groban or Pavaratti.
It always makes me cry. I also love “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Now that my parents don’t live near me, I travel to be with them for Christmas.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's?
Of course.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
A star.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Commercialization of the season, tacky displays, rude people, and Black Friday.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
My ornaments are based around a color scheme, white, red and lime green
- I enjoy that my tree has a fun, hip look. However, my favorite Christmas was the Christmas of 1991 when my parents decided to get a new tree and ornaments and everything on the tree had to represent Christ. We had so much fun going shopping an decorating that year.

24. Real Reason for Christmas?
Christmas is celebrating the birth and life of Christ.
Although we should do this on a daily basis all year, it is nice to have a special time when we can focus a little more intently and recommit ourselves to be like him. It is about love, patience, kindness, forgiveness and charity.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
I would love to connect with my friends who I never get the chance to talk to and to spend some time with my family.
I have been blessed this year and that is all I need.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ataturk's Dream Part 1

End of day 1 and I am at 3,467 words of utter crap, but I am loving it. I have been so excited all day to get home and start writing even though I know none of it is very good. I expect that the editing process will take me ten times as long as the writing process and that I might one day have a half-way decent novel.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November Update

Realizing it has been a while since my last post, I figured it needed a little updating.

The weekend prior to Veteran's Day had me traveling to Arizona to spend sometime with my parents and brothers for a mini-reunion. I picked up my brother Greg from the airport in Vegas on the evening of the 6th and he, Scott and I drove to Phoenix to pick up Doug and Garret the next day. We got away later than I had anticipated, missed our exit and ended up being more than 3 hours late picking up Doug and Garret from the airport. I was horrified and felt guilty the entire time. Waiting in airports is like Chinese Water Torture...I can't think of anything I hate more. We finally made it to Steven's house in Tucson after spending 11 hours driving. I think I will fly next time I need to make this trip. It would be much quicker.

The weekend was a blast...but it always is with my family. Lots of talking and laughing. Monday all of us went to see the San Francisco 49er's play the Arizona Cardinals for Monday night football. (Greg was the only one absent, having flown home Sunday night). Until the last 2 minutes of the game the 49ers had been leading. Unfortunately a few bad plays and they were unable to win. Even though they lost, we still had a great time. Here is a picture of us at the game. Good looking bunch!



The rest of November should have gone smoothly, but it was a month full of holidays which makes students go a little ape nuts. It has been a battle trying to keep them interested and motivated when they knew it was a short week. My students grades have never been lower. Hopefully in December they will get their acts together. Due to work, I was sort of in a funk the rest of the month. Once again asking myself that age old question "Why am I a teacher?" To top things off on the 18th, one of my students stole my ipod. The only thing I used this ipod for was to create podcasts and so this really made me mad. The school ended up buying me a new one, but it didn't change the circumstances. I have no idea who took it, so there really isn't anyone to blame but myself. With all of this going on I have wondered if I should remain a high school teacher, or venture off into some other field. I do enjoy teaching, but my current population makes me hate it. I am still looking for other teaching positions for next year as I continue to ponder my dilemma.

I stayed in town for Thanksgiving. Scott and I went out to breakfast and then saw "Twilight." He had to work that afternoon and I went home to finish some of my Christmas projects. The weekend was nice and I wish I could have a few more days to catch up with school work, but time of course flies quickly.

I made a momentous decision on Friday. Recently, I have been reading a blog called "The Happiness Project." On the blog the writer talked about a book about how to write a novel in 30 days. I purchased the book and it arrived on Friday. After reading the book my roommate and I decided that in December we would write our first novel. We have 31 days to write 75,000 words. I already got a head start and I have the first 1000 words written. During the month I will post weekly updates on how the process is going. I have no illusions that this will be a publishable novel, I just want to get something out to see if I can do it.

My book is presently titled "Ataturk's Dream" and is about a young teacher who takes a trip to Turkey and her world is thrown into turmoil while she is there. I don't have an outline, or a major plot--all I have is a couple of main characters and a desire. We shall see how it goes.

Since November is a month to pay a little more attention to our blessings I will end my blog with my gratitude list. It is in no particular order.

  • working computer
  • my good students that are trying to learn and ask amazing questions
  • my school for the new ipod
  • my family, I couldn't ask for a better buch of brother and the most amazing parents on the planet
  • primary music - I was recently called to be the primary chorister and it has turned out to be better than I imagined
  • friends - even though we are far apart, I think about you constantly and look forward to seeing you
  • my Heavenly Father, even though the world is in turmoil I feel at peace
  • my nephew Scott, he is serving his mission in North Carolina and I am so moved by his testimony and faith
  • a healthy body that allows me to keep up with my crazy schedule

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Day of Change

I take my civic duty of voting very seriously. I try to instill in my students the desire to participate in the democratic process of our country. I am fortunate that my voting location is at my high school. Yet another perk of living next door to my job. As I went to vote, one my former students Mike (he is part of the group that went to New York with me) was working as a volunteer checking in voters . Standing next to me at my voting booth was one of other former students. I was proud to see them and their enthusiasm in the process, but I was also glad that I could demonstrate to them what I had spoken about.

Regardless of who wins the current election big changes will be happening in the United States and I am hopefully optimistic for the future.

In other news, today I was able to teach one of the break-out sessions for our Staff Development Day about Socratic Circles and Philosophical Chairs. Both of these strategies are a great way to develop inquiry skills with students. To help me demonstrate both of these teaching strategies I had 15 students come and do both activities for the teachers. The students were amazing and they really stole the show. I think most of the teachers enjoyed my session. It is often difficult to read their body language.

After it was over, the school provided pizza for the kids and we talked about the experience. They thought it was amusing to see that the teachers acted just like students. They mentioned that as soon as I turned my back on them the teachers started chatting, some were texting, others were reading magazines and one even had the audacity to surf the internet on his laptop. Fortunately the teachers did model some positive behaviors. One of which allowed the students to see some different sides to the articles they had discussed. I think my students might have finally gotten a glimpse at how difficult my job can be as they watched me put together and conduct my presentation.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Proof

Here is the proof of my 90 seconds of bliss. Although, now that I see the picture I realize how fickle the mind can be. I was certain that I had crouched down next to Jordan - but as you can tell it was really Joe.

I only wish the picture quality was better, oh well...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Artist Within

For no apparent reason today after school I was in a foul mood. It was, in fact, a great day with my students, so I was surprised by the anger I could feel sitting right under the surface. I came home watched a little t.v. and tried to feel better. Still seething, I knew I had to do something else. As I was gazing around my apartment for something to distract me, my eyes settled on my craft table that resides in my dining room. On it is a picture I painted back in March. My friend Sarah encouraged me to take up painting and so my one lone picture was the only result of my new hobby. I have meant to get back to it and paint some additional pictures, however, it has never happened.

I decided that painting could get me over my funk and I whipped out the brushes and canvas. Initially, I was going to paint a new picture, ultimately I decided to paint over my original picture with something a little darker. Here is the first picture I have ever painted. It demonstrates my mood.




After completing picture number one, I felt compelled to finish picture number two. I don't have the skills for realistic art and I quite enjoy my foray into abstract art. The pictures are presently untitled and I am looking for inspiration for their names. Feel free to submit ideas.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

First Time was a Great Time...

second time was a blast.

Well, I am just back from the concert and I am a little deaf. There is nothing quite like the sound of 10,000 women shrieking their heads off. Even though I had the foresight to wear ear plugs, the noise was so loud that me ears still kind of hurt. But the pain was totally worth it. Now, what you have all been waiting for....a recap of the night.

4:30 p.m.
I got a 5 star ticket to the concert which entitled me to "meet and greet" the guys before the concert. Earlier in the week I received an email that informed me that I was to show up at the theater by 4:30p.m. to pick up my tickets and get ready for the pre-show party. I thought this was ridiculously early and I wasn't wrong. The concert was held at the Mandalay Bay events center which is a nice location, smaller than most large venues. I was very surprised that there were at least 200 people waiting for their 5 star ticket. I didn't think there would be quite so many people.

5:30 p.m.
After standing in line for an hour, they finally gave us our tickets and we were escorted to a little (and I mean little 10 x 30) room for our pre-show party. Fortunately the hour in line was not wasted. I brought with me some essays to grade and I stood and read them while waiting...always the teacher. Once in the room for the party I was again surprised, not only by the size of the room but also the quality of the refreshments. We received 2 drink tickets (yeah for water!) and there was a cheese and crudite platter. So much for dinner :-(

6:52 p.m.
Finally we were called into line to "meet" the guys. While at the Boston concert I stopped two women to see what the 5 star package included and they showed me pictures they had taken with the guys and things that they had autographed and so I was anticipating the same sort of action. Wrong again. We were ushered into another line and then pushed into a small cordoned off section of the main party room where the guys were.

Danny greeted us first and I got the hug I have been waiting 18 years for. I then hugged Jonathan and Jordan. I gently patted Joe's arm, but didn't get a chance to even make eye contact with Donnie. Another woman had gone in sobbing and had monopolized him the entire time.

They quickly called for our picture and I got into a weird crouching position and smiled. I also assumed that the picture that would be taken at the event would be done by professionals. (We all know what happens when we assume things) What we got was two women with small digital cameras. I should find out in the next couple of weeks where I can download my picture. When I find out I will post it.

6:54 p.m.
Meeting was over. I had been fretting for the past couple of weeks about what I was going to say to the guys. I wanted something memorable and not too cliche and I thought I had it ready to go, only to discover there was no time for me to even say anything more than just "Hi." Although time flew by very quickly, I noticed a couple of interesting things.

One, the guys are tiny. Not only shorter than I realized but also, much, much thinner. I could throw them around...seriously.

Two, they were very nice and much better looking than I thought possible. Seriously hot, all of them. Danny was always my favorite, but Jordan is more attractive than any man has a right to be. See the shirtless picture of him at the bottom from his Baby, I believe in you solo.

Alas, there was not time for that elusive Danny and Krista shot, or the autograph from Joe I had wanted to get for Chandra. We were pushed out and another group of ten women were escorted in for their 4 minutes of paradise.

I have to make a little side note. During this entire time, I met three hilarious ladies from Albuquerque. We laughed, shared stories from our earlier New Kid days and generally tried to make the time pass quicker. It was a serendipitous meeting...Jessica, Lisa and Christy...you girls rock!

7:24 p.m.
Free giveaways...beanies and t-shirts. No luck winning.

7:54 p.m.
Find seat. My ticket was listed as Section 2, Row P, Seat 11. I knew that section 2 was the front middle section on the floor. I assumed P meant that I was sitting about 16 rows from the front, which would have been almost identical seats to the concert in Boston. Much to my delight, they did not start lettering the rows at A and P ended up being only 7 rows from the front. SCORE! These were the closest seats I have ever had at a concert. I could clearly see the sweat coming down their faces all night. What more could a girl want. :-)

8:00 p.m.
Lady Gaga takes the stage. She is a strange performer. I like her music, but she's a little off. At the Boston concert the first act was a guy named Colby O'Donis...good music as well.



8:25 p.m.
Natasha Bedingfield. She sounded better much better in Vegas and I enjoyed how she switched up her set from the show in Boston. It just seemed more pulled together.



9:15 p.m.
NKOTB time! Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh....they still have the right stuff. I borrowed my brother Scott's camera for the event, but 5 pictures into the first song the battery died. I didn't get the opportunity to take any more pictures from my good seat, but that is just fine. I was able to concentrate on trying to remember every dance move, head nod and smile. I won't go through a minute by minute recap of the event...although I could, but instead here is the set list.
  • Single
  • My Favorite Girl
  • Right Stuff
  • Didn't I Blow Your Mind
  • Valentine Girl
  • Please Don't Go Girl
  • Grown Man
  • No More Games
  • If You Go Away
*****
At this part in the show, they switched to a little round stage near the back of the floor where they performed the next three numbers.

*****
  • 2 in the Morning
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Tonight
*****
  • Twisted
  • Baby I Believe in You
  • Give it to You (from Jordan's solo album)
  • Stay the Same (from Joe's solo album)
  • Cover Girl
  • I'll Be Loving You
  • Click, Click, Click
  • Summertime

Enchore:
  • Step By Step
  • Hangin' Tough

Ok, so with everything else I have discussed, the long lines the limited time with the guys all I have to say was that the show was AMAZING! They sounded awesome which was a pleasant surprise. All of their vocals were spot on. Jordan still managed to nicely hit his high notes and Joe's voice has matured well. They used a nice mix of old and new songs. Their most recent album The Block has some great club hits which my students really dig. It also contains far more sexual material. I could do without a few of the songs - as a whole though it is a nice new sound.

There were many favorite moments from the show, but the dancing was tight. The guys looked half their age and Danny did some break dancing which is impressive noting that he is almost 40.

With multiple outfit changes throughout the evening, the guys ended the show wearing Boston Celtics jerseys emblazoned with their last names, while performing "Hangin' Tough." Florescent strips of confetti fell to the ground much to the delight of all the screaming fans. I definitely felt like I was reliving 1990.

11:23 p.m.
Final bow.

Both Vegas and Boston had almost identical shows, however, at their Boston concert there was a lot of talk about reminiscing and how good it is to be home. Donnie even appeared to get chocked up. There was none of that type of sentimentality in Vegas. It was all about the partying. In fact the New Kids were having a follow up party at LAX in the Luxor to celebrate. I opted not to go. Let's be honest, I am not the agressive-in-your-face-type of fan who would get more face time with the guys. It would consist of me sitting there, nursing a bottle of water, and watching the guys from afar. Better to go home and get to bed.

Enjoy the couple of pictures I managed to get. Even though I was a little disappointed at a few items, I would do it again in a heartbeat. The 30 seconds hugging the guys - made all the difference.









Friday, October 10, 2008

Relaxing After School

On Fridays, I usually take the extra time and clean up my room so that when I come in Monday morning I have one less thing to worry about. I normally catch up on my filing, organization and I pick-up the stray pieces of trash on the floor. Much to my surprise, today as I was picking up I discovered the tinest little bag of trash on the floor. It was only about 1" x 1". At first, I didn't think much of it, but upon closer examination I noticed the little bag had leaves printed all over it. It took me just a moment to realize that I was holding a bag of marijuana. Now, I wasn't sure if this was a gift left behind by a caring student who noticed that I had been a little stressed out and thought I would maybe want a drug to relax me, or if they had just accidentally dropped it. I was tempted to open the bag and smell the contents, but my better senses prevailed and I rushed it down to the Dean's office. He quickly took it of my hands. I am extremely curious as to which of my students it belonged. I will have to do a little detective work next week and see if I can catch the culprit.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Feelings of a Frustrated Teacher

The joy of traveling has a dark side--the side that rears its ugly head when I return home. I always go through a little funk at the end of a trip because traveling reveals to me exciting opportunities, adventures and feelings. Returning home shows me the realities of my life that become obscure when you are just toiling away on a daily basis.

My recent trip to New England was amazing and when I returned to work I was surprised by the note left by my substitute teacher. I pride myself that I work very hard to keep control of my class and I try very hard to build relationships with my students so that they will stay behaved. Five out of my six classes are great and the substitute loved them. But, my eighth period class is full of students that don't want to be at school, could care less about learning and generally dislike anything I do in my class. This does not mean they don't like me...they just don't like my class.

I had tests planned while I was away, but apparently my eighth period class would not settle down until the sub called the office and had the Dean come and talk to my class. When I read about this, I told my class how disappointed I was. I look at their behavior as a reflection of my shortcomings and thus I have been a little frustrated all week.

As a whole I can't complain, the rest of my classes are great and we have a good time together. Sure more than half of my students are failing, but this is the story in everyone's class...not just mine. It's a reflection of the general apathy of students in Las Vegas today.

To cap off my week, Friday we had a staff development day. I try to be positive during these days, figuring there must be something I can learn to improve my teaching and my classes. The class that our department attended was taught by a woman who I became acquainted with last year when I was taking some AP World History classes. This woman is an amazing teacher with fantastic ideas, so I was excited that she was teaching the class. A nearby high school's social studies department joined with us and within 5 minutes of her presentation everyone (my school and the other school) were bad mouthing her and just generally being rude.

The frustrations from a week with my students, added with my anger at the unprofessional behavior of my colleagues gave me the most wretched headache and put me in a foul mood the rest of the day. By the end of the presentation, the presenter was looking at only three of us because we were the only ones still paying attention. Everyone else was either talking to their neighbor or playing on their computer. After it was over I apologized to her. I do like the people I work with, but I was ashamed at everyone's behavior. I did not want to be associated with them.

I am aware that I have a lot to learn about teaching and Friday just demonstrated to me that I will need to add patience and understanding to my list.

Yesterday, I dropped by my department chair's room to drop off some paperwork he had requested when we got into a long conversation. I told him about some of my frustrations and he shared with me some of his own. He basically told me in no certain terms that he considers me the best teacher in his department. Although I am flattered by his response, it doesn't make me feel any better. I want to learn from others and if I am at the top of the list in our department, who do I look to for support and ideas? I want to grow and I don't know if I have the motivation to push myself to grow without any external triggers. For this reason, I am going to start looking for employment outside of Las Vegas.

I am currently looking at companies that recruit teachers for oversea schools which would be an exciting opportunity. The contracts are usually 2 years. The only downside is that most of the locations are in the middle east. I want to visit these countries, but living there would be a challenge. I don't want to sacrifice 2 years of no church service for the opportunity. I am also looking at some of the high end private schools in the States. If any of you know about recruiting fairs or exciting opportunities in your area let me know. I am up for anything.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Drenched In History

My best friend Chandra and I decided a few months ago that we would travel all the way across the country for the opportunity to see the New Kids reunion tour. Our flights meshed on the trip over and Chandra and enjoyed chatting on the flight from Las Vegas to Manchester, New Hampshire. We decided to fly into New Hampshire because Southwest doesn't fly into Boston and their flights were significantly cheaper than any other carrier. On the flight I sat next to a guy named Jeff who was from Portsmouth, NH and he was willing to give us all sorts of recommendations to restaurants and places to visit. In fact, he wrote 4 pages in my little notebook with all the directions. I had tenatively planned our itinerary and was open to making some changes. The four 1/2 hour flight flew by while I enjoyed conversations with Chandra and Jeff.

We landed late Wednesday evening/Thursday morning, picked up our rental car and settled into our hotel. The next morning we followed Jeff's instructions and drove to Portsmouth to check out the city. We visited the river and the site where one of the first colonies in America was established. After a delicious lunch of clam chowder we drove to York, Maine to see the Nubble Lighthouse. This was my first lighthouse and I will be honest, I was a little disappointed. I had expected it to be much larger. It was however, still beautiful. Later that afternoon we drove to Salem, Mass. - the historic city of the witch trials. This ended up being a highlight for both Chandra and I. The town was full of witches and pumpkins. It would be a great city on Halloween. The town really plays up on its history and we entered more than one store that sold witch potions, herbs and tools for practicing wicans.

Friday, the rain started which never really let up the rest of the weekend. Chandra and I named our trip "Drentched in History" because we were literally drentched the rest of the weekend. Friday morning took us around Salem and into a few more shops. We checked out the Salem Witch Museum to learn a little more about the 1690 witch trials. After the museum visit the rain was getting us down so we decided to head to Boston earlier than planned.

After getting turned around a couple of times we finally found our hotel. We dried off, checked our maps and then decided to venture out on the T to discover the city. This was Chandra's first experience on a subway/train and she was a little nervous. We safely made it to downtown Boston and we set out for the Freedom Trail that has a number of historic Boston sites that link to the Revolutionary war and era. We skipped lunch in favor of some canoli's from Mike's Pastry Shop on our way to Paul Revere's house. While touring his home, we stumbled upon a very knowledge guide who regaled us with his historic ride to warn about the British troops arrival. I kept thinking as she spoke that she made a great storyteller. I wish I had brought a recording device to capture the story. After visiting his home we wandered to the Old North Church (1 if by land, 2 if by sea). Because of the rain we ate dinner really early, simply so we could get a little dry. Our guide book suggested Ernesto's pizza. Chandra and I both agreed that it wasn't the best pizza we had ever eaten, but it was good. Ernesto's is a locals favorite and I can see why.

Once we were finished with dinner we still had a few hours to kill before the concert so we decided to wander a little more. We quickly changed our minds when we couldn't find the Holocaust Memorial. We swung by the local CVS Pharmacy for the third time that evening (1 trip for ear plugs, 1 trip for extra socks...mine were soaked, 1 trip for an umbrella), after which we just decided to head to the theatre and wait for the show. We arrived in no time and got our tickets (15th row on the floor...great seats). I had purchased a deluxe package and so we also got a stylish bandana, key chain and a glowing heart necklace. (Check out the pictures and you can see the awesome necklace). We chatted up some of the other fans around and just waited for the big event.

I am going to save my detailed description of the concert until next week. On October 11th I will be seeing the New Kids again in Las Vegas. I have a ticket that will allow me the opportunity to meet them and get my picture with them. I have included some pictures from the concert with Chandra. The show was fantastic, we screamed, cheered and generally just had a blast.

We had a short T ride back to the hotel following the concert. We were both exhausted and quickly went to sleep. The next morning it wasn't raining yet so we decided to get most of our outside activities done first. We headed to the water to see the U.S.S. Constitutuion. The ship was free to tour, which was good, because their wasn't much to see. We then walked up the Bunker Hill memorial and caught a bus to take us back downtown. We wandered through Boston Common and the Public Gardens which were stunning. While we were strolling through the park the rain moved from a few drops to a much stronger drizzle.

Near the park is the fashionable Beacon Hill. The homes in this area are some of the most expensive in the city. We spent a little while there so I could take a couple of pictures. There was one particular street I was looking for in the neighborhood but I couldn't find it. Later that night I was flipping through out guide book complaining to Chandra about the picture I didn't get to take when I discovered that the street I had been looking for was we had found and taken pictures of. I have included it in the pictures below--it is the photo of the brick houses, flag and mossy paver street.

After the parks and Beacon Hill we window shopped down the very expensive Newbury Street, caught lunch at a delicious burger joint and then decided to head the Museum of Fine Art. The rain had really picked up and we didn't want to get any more wet. The duration of the afternoon was spent in the Museum checking out Impressionist, Medieval, and Modern Art, as well as Egyptian ruins and mummies.

We managed to do everything I planned all weekend much faster than expected so we often had pockets of time with no place to be. After the Museum we had 3 hours before we were scheduled to attend "The Light in the Piazza" a musical at the Boston Theatre of Fine Arts. I wasn't sure where the theatre was located so Chandra and I pulled out our trusty map and decided to walk. Forty-five minutes later and soaked to the bones we finally found the theatre, picked up our tickets, and then tried to decide where to eat dinner. After walking back and forth across the street three times Chandra finally settled on a little diner. We took our time drying out and chatting as we waited for the show to begin. The musical was well done. It was held in a very small, intimate theatre with seats for about 200 people. The performers had a great voices and I was impressed. During intermission my shoes and socks were still soaking wet so I decided to take my shoes and socks off for the duration of the show. My prune like toes were happy with my decision as I hid my feet under my coat, as to not freak out the other theatre patrons.

The night ended with another ride on the trusty T line and back to our hotel. Sunday arrived much too quickly and ushered in the end of our fun. We drove our car back to Manchester and enjoyed our final hour chatting at the airport waiting for our respective flights back home.

All weekend we were surprised to discover how close everything was. We would be looking for something on our map, a street or a building and then look up and discover that we were already there or only a few feet away. I kept joking that it was like being able to teleport because of how fast we would arrive. This did pose a few challenges while driving because we often missed exits and turns because they came faster than expected. We were never lost, just turned around a few times. Some of the joys of visiting a new place.

I had a great time all weekend. New England was gorgeous, food was good...but the best part was spending some quality time with one of my dearest friends in the world. We became best friends because of our mutual affection for the New Kids and this weekend was a nice reunion not only to see them again, but to restrengthen the bonds of our friendship.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

AVID Leadership Cadre

I was invited this week to join the AVID Leadership Cadre. This means that I will be trained as an expert in AVID teaching strategies so that I can then teach other teachers. Our districts goals are to implement the AVID program in every middle and high school. I am excited about this opportunity because it means that I will also have the opportunity to train people for AVID on a national level.

Yesterday I attended our first meeting. The other teachers that were selected for the cadre are very experienced and I am really humbled by the group. I am the least experienced teacher and I am still surprised that I was selected for the group. This year they will train us so that next school year we will be ready to implement all the training.

Month 1 Report

Four weeks have flown by and school is in full swing. My classes are still every bit as huge as I reported from week one. However, I was told on Friday that the school is hiring 12 new teachers to help offset the unexpected higher enrollment numbers. By Monday the 29th my classes will be a little different. My sixth and eighth period classes are the only two I am concerned about. I know that my students are not learning much at the moment and I hope it will improve with smaller class sizes. I am pleased with a couple of changes I made to my teaching this year. First, I record my class lectures and the students that miss class have to download my podcasts. If any of you are interested in what are truly riveting class lectures you are more than welcome to listen. Visit: my.ccsd.net (search for my last name). I must admit that as I listen to my lecture I realize how idiotic I sound most of the time. I sure do say a lot of umms.

My students were a little surprised by the appearance of Cleopatra last week in class. I donned last year's Halloween costume and delivered my Cleopatra speech. In 3 of my classes I was moved to tears when talking about Marc Antony....in fact during 5th period I couldn't look at one of my students because she was sobbing. I knew that if I looked at her I would start to cry even harder. During my two average world history classes I wasn't very emotional in the performance because I had to keep telling them to be quiet, wake-up, take notes and spit out their gum. Sort of kills the mood.

The second thing I am doing this year is trying to condense my three different world history classes. I have been able to refine my powerpoints to make them effective for all three levels of class. I do tailor my individual lecture differently. I also try to use my AP materials for my honors and average classes. I don't expect my students to be able to complete the same assessments but it saves me time. I told my average students that some of the schedules might be changing and I could lose a few of them. A couple of the students commented that they hoped to leave my class, not because they didn't like me, but because they wanted an easier class. I told them they didn't offend me and I wouldn't apologize for making them do some work. Right now all my history classes have very pathetic grades. AP class average is 74%, Honors is 79% and my two average classes are around 59%.

The students have started warming up to me and they are stopping by my class more often to talk to me and seek advice. It is charming when they have questions about love and dating. High school is an awkward time and I know I am glad I don't have to live through it again. I don't envy them.

The Right Stuff

In 5 days I get to see some of my favorite men again. My best friend Chandra and I are flying to Boston on Wednesday for the NKOTB Friday reunion concert. I can't wait...

Summer Travels Part 6: Anaheim

My final trip this summer was to Anaheim, California to visit my brother Steve and his family. Since his wife already posted pictures and updates about the trip, I will keep my blog very short. I had an amazing time hanging out with my cute nephews and niece. I had so much fun just being goofy and silly. I realized while playing with them that you get very few opportunities to be childlike as an adult and it can be very liberating to just be silly. Here are a couple of my pictures of the trip.


Steve, Stephanie, Seth, Rhianna & Rand


Love those blue eyes!


Seth loves the sand


Rand & Rhianna enjoying the water

The one thing I did discover about myself is that I love looking at the water and walking along the beach...but I am not a beach person. This was my first opportunity to go to the beach for the day. Although I was covered in sunblock, I was still worried about burning, so I stayed covered up for most of the time. I also did not enjoy sand in every crevice of my body.

Summer Travels Part 5: San Diego

Before I left on trek number 4, I was able to spend 2 days at home. This was just enough time to unpack one bag, do a little laundry and pack my bags for San Diego. This trip was not a vacation - but a summer AVID convention. AVID is a program for students who are traditionally under served in school and with a little guidance and assistance could be in honors and AP classes. Ultimately the program is designed to get kids in 4 year colleges. It is an amazing program with a stellar track record. I went to the conference last summer and I was excited that I was invited to attend again. This year I am teaching AVID and so I was able to learn more specifically what I needed to teach my students. Our district pays for our enrollment, lodging and transportation costs and so this year to save a little money two of my colleagues and myself decided we would drive. I was the chauffer and the drive down was quick. My coworker Harold and I enjoyed a diverse conversation which made the time fly by.

San Diego is always beautiful and it was no exception this year. Perfect weather every day. Durango high school sent 7 of us to the conference. During the day each of us were in different classes and then we would meet back up to discuss our school plan in the afternoon. Every evening we went out to dinner and played card games. Here are a few pictures of us goofing around.


Someone commented that Harold looked liked Joey McIntryre from the New Kids on the Block, so Kristin, Julie and Nikki are prentending to be in love with him.


Eduardo, Kristin and Harold on the trolly


Julie & Nikki

On the last evening, there were only 5 of us left (the other 2 went home early) and so we drove to Little Italy for dinner and decided to walk along by the ocean. As we were enjoying our evening stroll a police officer drove by on his loud speakers announcing that they were looking for a missing child. He gave the description (4 years old, black male, spiderman bike, spiderman shirt). All of us talked about how horrible it would be to be the child's parents and wonder what we would do in a similar situation. About 15 minutes later as we decided to head back towards my car we passed a woman and young boy. Almost immediately we all turned to each other and questioned if that was the child described by the cop. It only took a few seconds before we had agreed that we saw everything we heard in the description. I told Harold (our only man) to call 911. We casually moved 25 yards away from the woman and child and waited until the police arrived on the scene. Harold was amazing and directed the officer to the woman. It turns out that it was the child in question and the woman was his mother, but she did not have custody and the father had called the police. When we finally left the scene, the officer was waiting for backup and child protective services to take the little boy. Of course the mother was freaking out, which wasn't pleasant, but we had done what was necessary.


The AVID superheros just minutes before our discovery.

I think I can speak for all of us involved that we felt proud of being observant and solving the crime. We joked around and called each other AVID superheros for the rest of the night. The week was very informative and a lot of fun. My roommate for the week Julie, helped me find my new enjoyment: yoga. As a certified yoga instructor we got up a few days and she led me through some stretching which felt terrific.

The other highlight of the trip was our (Julie and I) visit to Laguna Beach for the Pagaent of the Masters. The show is 90 minutes long and they use people to faithfully recreate classic and contemporary works of art. The show is amazing and I still can't get over how authentic the pictures and statues look. To learn more about it check out their site: http://www.foapom.com

Summer Travels Part 4: Rexburg (part 2)

After returning to Rexburg following my dad & I's trip to California I decided that I had spent enough of my vacation just relaxing and it was time for me to get back to work. Over the next week I began working on school lessons, typing activities, and working on my Turkey book. In addition I went to 4 movies at the $2 theater. I must admit one of the things I miss most about living in a smaller community is the inexpensive movies. I was able to see Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Prince Caspian and The Emma Smith Movie - all for the same price I would have paid for on movie in Vegas.

Besides just working, I was able to spend a little more time with my nephew before he left on his mission. Sunday, July 20th he was set apart and I was able to be there for the blessing. It was a very spiritual evening and we were all moved to tears.

Summer Travels Part 3: Santa Rosa

My third trip took my father and I to Santa Rosa, California to visit with his family. We left at the crack of dawn (5:00 a.m.) on Tuesday, July 15th to catch the shuttle to the Salt Lake Airport. We had timed our arrival perfectly and we quickly managed airport security, arrived at the gate and had to only wait about 20 minutes before we boarded the flight. I planned this trip so that I could try and gather some Boivie family pictures and information. Two years ago I created a family history book for my mom's side and wanted to create a similar book of the Boivie's.

After collecting our rental car in Oakland we headed to Santa Rosa. My directions were good and we arrived at my grandparent's house in great time. That afternoon and evening we talked and Kay, my grandfather's wife drove us around Santa Rosa and her school. We oohed and ahhed over the spectacular houses around town.

Wednesday the 16th was a busy day as we prepared for the family barbecue. Kay's grandson James was in charge of the chicken which turned out spectacular. My dad and grandfather were responsible for moving all the yard furniture and setting things up. Kay and I enjoyed our trips to a variety of stores to purchase all the food. In addition to gathering family photos I also borred a video camera from school and I decided to interview all the family members present. It was great to see so many of my relatives. The following people attended:
  • Grandpa Carl & Kay
  • Paul Boivie, wife and daughter
  • Diane Christian & husband (dad's cousin)
  • David Boivie (dad's cousin)
  • Bernice Boivie (dad's aunt)
  • Bob & Diane Boivie (aunt & uncle)
  • Larry and Debs Boivie (aunt & uncle)
  • Kay's daughter Natalie and family
  • Kay's grandson James & his girlfriend

The conversations lasted until dark and it turned out to be a really relaxing and fantastic day. Thursday, July 17th my dad and I drove down to my aunt Sherri's house to see her. She had been unable to attend the barbecue and I didn't want to miss seeing her. We were fortunate to spend a few hours visiting with her.

The trip ended early Friday morning when we had to drive back to Oakland to catch our flight home. The trip was indeed a success and I was able to gather more information than I had expected. It will be a while before I finish the book, but now I feel I can get a good start on it.


Diane & Bob Boivie


Debs & Larry Boivie


Paul Boivie & Grandpa Carl


Enjoying the warm July afternoon.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Student Email

Tonight I just received an email from a student in my world history class. She mentioned that her little cousin was diagnosed with leukemia and even though she hadn’t been in my class long, she said “I felt I could tell you…what should I do?” I am moved that she already feels safe enough with me in the second week of school to share something so personal. Even though at times I have a frustrating day and I get mad at my bulging classes of 50 and the lazy and helpless attitudes of my students-- it is little things like this that reinforce why I decided to change careers, take out student loans and become a teacher. It also makes my 14 hour-day not so tiring.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

1st Week of School

Hurray, 1 week down - only 35 more to go. Just kidding - I am not counting. The only bummer about this week was my little fever that struck on Tuesday. By the end of the day I collapsed on the couch in my classroom. I laid there for 30 minutes before I peeled myself off and dragged my butt home. Later that evening I realized my fatigue was not school induced, but that I had a raging fever. Unfortunately, I was to start my institute class that evening, but I was too wiped out to go. Fortunately though, my fever broke about midnight and I was able to finish out the rest of the week. I don't know why the fever struck but I am doing much better now.

This year I am teaching the following courses:
  • AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination - a college prep class, 22 students)
  • AP World History (2 sections - 30 students per class)
  • Honors World History (1 section - 37 kids)
  • World History (2 sections - 50 kids per class)
For those that are counting that is 219 students. I can proudly say that by the 3rd day of school I knew all their names. However, by the 5th day the fever killed some brain cells and I can't quite remember all of them - but I am working on it.

So far my students look promising. My two average world history classes will be a challenge simply because of their size. It is difficult to control 15-year-olds but when you put 50 in a room together it gets tough. My classroom is a nice size, but not with 50 people in it. We are all a little crowded. Our state drastically cut our education budget and the enrollment is up by about 400 students at our school and we are down 12 teachers. I am optimistic that within the next few weeks they will try to level our classes to get the count to be around 35-36 in those classes.

Summer Travels Part 2: Rexburg

After spending a week in Seattle, I boarded another plane bound for Salt Lake. At the SLC airport I met my brother Garret and the two of us shared the shuttle ride to Rexburg. This leg of my summer travel was only a few days, but I certainly had fun. On Saturday, July 12th my brother Scott arrived and it was fun to spend a little quality time with 3 of my brothers. Along with Marnie's brother-in-law Tyler, we all went to see the Incredible Hulk Saturday afternoon. The movie was much better than the Hulk and that evening was spent catching up.

Sunday was my nephew Scott's big day--his mission farewell. Before church I took the following pictures for Doug and Marnie.


Taylor, Doug, Marnie & Scott


Scott, all grown-up

It makes me feel old to realize I have a nephew who is a missionary. Scott gave an excellent job talk - his topic was missionary work. It is obvious that he will be a fantastic missionary. After the block of meetings there was an open house with tons of food and great conversation. Before I knew it my brother Scott had to fly back to Vegas and Garret returned to Dallas.

Monday the 14th I hung out with my parents before I took off for the third part of my summer travels.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Chicken, Chicken, Chicken

One of the few things I asked for this past Christmas was gift coupons to a local cooking school. I have driven by the school a number of times, visited their website and always wanted to take their classes. The older I get the less "stuff" I need and I thought this would be a fun alternative to a traditional gift.

My loving brother Scott gave me the certificate for Christmas and on August 7th, I completed my second course....Chicken, Chicken, Chicken. The first class I took was "Knife Skills" which doesn't sound very fun, but it was exceptional. I took the knife skills class back in January and it has taken me eight months to complete my second course. But like the first, this one was exceptional as well.

With one professional chef and 8 students ready to go we made 4 chicken dishes: 1) Herbs de Provence Chicken 2) Roasted Dr. Pepper Chicken 3) Chicken Roulade (stuffed goat cheese chicken) & 4) Proscutto wrapped Chicken skewers. Each dish was outstanding and would impress any dinner guest, but my favorite turned out to be the Herbs de Provence Chicken--it was a little burst of France right in your mouth. I don't think I have ever eaten that much chicken in my entire life, but I now have a few more dishes to add to my aresenol which is always a good thing. For my next choice...which class should I take now?

For more information visit: creativecookingschool.com

Summer Travels Part 1: Seattle

The first leg of my summer travels took me to the always beautiful Seattle area.

The 4th of July was spent with my best friend Chandra and her adorable family. I have to say she has some of the cutest girls in the world. After picking my up from the airport, we spent the rest of the morning/afternoon at the Bothell city parade. Chandra's oldest daughter Olivia was part of her dance troupe's float which was fun. Chandra's girls had a great time running after candy and I enjoyed just hanging out with her and the family.


Victoria and Lucy looking very patriotic.

On Saturday the 5th, Chandra and I got to have a girls afternoon out. We went for pedicures, saw the movie "Get Smart" (very funny) and went to Buca di Beppo for dinner. It had been 2 years since we last saw each other and this time together was nice.

The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying each others company and hanging out with her family. On Monday the 7th, I met up with my sister-in-law Robin and her kids at her brother's apartment pool. The kids had a great 4 hour swim before we headed out to their house in Duval.

Their house in Duval is in the prettiest location. I could just sit in their front room and look out their window for the rest of my life and be happy. It is gorgeous - this picture does not do it justice.



Unfortunately on Tuesday the 8th I ate something that didn't sit well and I spent the rest of the day running back and forth to the bathroom. I haven't had to throw up that much in my entire life. Nothing would stay down, not even water. Fortunately, Greg was able to give me a blessing with the help of his neighbor and by Wednesday all was fine.

Wednesday, Robin and I took the kids to a nearby lake which the kids did not think was very exciting. After trying to keep them there for an hour we tried our luck at another community lake. We were fortunate that the gate was open and the kids had a great time playing in the water. In the evening, we had a little picnic in the park where a local band was playing and I was able to see my dear friend Robert and meet his partner Mikel and their kids. The band was entertaining, but the music was a little too loud to have any deep conversations. My nephew Hunter was bothered by the loud music, so Robin took the kids to work on some crafts. There was a river nearby and before you know it Hunter, Chris and Elaina were all soaked to the bones. The kids are like fish and can't seem to get enough of the water.

Thursday we met Greg for lunch in the Google offices (talk about an awesome setup--makes me almost wish I worked there)--and then spent the rest of the afternoon at a local park. I treated Robin and the kids to dinner at Red Robin before we headed back to their house. Here are a few of the pictures of the kids I took that evening.


Alix & Elaina


Hunter & Chris

The highlight of my trip with Greg and Robin was meeting their little one Jacen. He is the friendliest baby I have ever met.


Friday morning Greg took me to the airport nice and early and off I flew to Salt Lake for the 2nd leg of my trip.