Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Vacation

Here's a sneak peek at some of the fun things we've been up to so far on our Christmas adventures...
(Bret and I decided to forgo the usual gift-giving this year and bought a nice camera together. Fabulous idea. We've had a blast learning how to use it!)

San Antonio Riverwalk with the Livesey and Jeppson families.
Our theme for Candy Houses this year was "Places in Utah". Bret and Carly chose the best place in Utah: the Salt Lake Temple. Luckily it didn't take them 40 years to build, although we started to wonder...
Jackson and Dad did this cool "remix" of Delicate Arch. 
Bret learned to sew! He made these scarves for my sister Abby. Carly and I were his models.

Date night to temple square to see the lights. So beautiful.

My beautiful house at Christmas time. My mom is so great at decorating.

Dad tickling Mae at my grandma's house on Christmas day. She sure loves her uncle Mike.
(Notice Jack's crazy hat  in the background. He wouldn't take it off.)

Skating on a frozen pond in Burley with Bret's siblings. A little scary but very fun.

Playing with the nieces and nephews we love so much. This is Kami, my little buddy. 
Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you are enjoying your holidays as much as we are enjoying ours. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Two Weeks Notice

This is the name of a great chick flick that Lauren and I used to watch together. She quotes it better than I do. Good show.

This is also what I will be turning in to the school district tomorrow.

say WHAT?!

Yup, the ballet was determined to find the budget to hire me on full time as the outreach coordinator and yesterday they officially made it happen. It has been approved by the board so I am officially "on board"! I can't wait to meet with the directors and go over details. I will finish out the last two weeks until Christmas break at Central and then start my new position at the ballet in January.

Heavenly Father has a big picture for us, and I'm grateful that He is letting me have this experience we have been working over a year to create. I know I will be able to use my skills to do some valuable things with dance here in San Angelo.

Birthday Season!

Bret is 26 years old.

Do you see Mario there... He and Bret have become good pals since that day!

We had birthday breakfast, opened presents, and played tennis (in our shorts and t-shirts!).
I also tried to throw a surprise party with some friends. We met at a park for homemade pizza and cupcakes. He wasn't as surprised as I expected, but it was still super fun!

I am 24 years young. 
Picture from last year... I'm still just as nerdy!
My seminary class found out that it was my birthday and brought cake (and muffins, and brownies, and more muffins)! My co-workers and dance students also found out and helped make it a great day. We went to Bret's school Christmas party and had fun with everyone. 
On Saturday Bret made me breakfast and took me out for dinner at "The Grill". 

Together we make 50, which is not significant in any way. I just wanted to show off my mad math skills :) Now we are excited to celebrate a birthday far more significant than our own, the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We are grateful for Him and for all the things that become possible for our past, present, and future because of His atonement.

 Let birthday season continue!

Not Your Average Thanksgiving Day

This year for Thanksgiving we celebrated the same as last year... dinner at the church building with those whose families live far away. Everyone brought food to share and we had a delicious feast.

Then we went CAMPING with the Jeppsons. Yes, I know some of you are appalled... camping on Thanksgiving. But when you live in Texas where it is just beginning to feel like fall and your family is not around to be traditional with, YES, camping is the way to roll. We were going to go to this great campsite called Enchanted Rock about 3 hrs away (near Fredericksburg) but they are still under a burn ban. Our county lifted the burn ban but has no great campsites... but when it gets dark at 6:00, a campfire is a necessity.

So we found a camping area near the lake that was free (since it was offseason) and totally, eerily deserted (since normal people don't camp in November), located the ONE spot with a fire-pit, and set up camp!

We heated leftovers on the fire for dinner and made s'mores for dessert. After the kids went down for bed, Lori and I drove 2 minutes to the gas station to use the restroom (no trees, right next to a road... this isn't Utah) and then the adults hung out around the fire and chatted.

Bret and I had loaned out our air mattress and extra sleeping bags so we attempted to sleep right on the hard ground. We didn't really sleep much and were pretty achy in the morning. Bret was also feeling pretty sick and I think we were all a little cold, so we decided not to cook up the breakfast stuff we brought and just go home instead (considering home is 5 minutes away, we decided it was much easier than building another fire, etc.)

Overall, it was a blast and we loved hanging out with our friends around the fire on Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The News Is In...

But it ain't good, folks. The ballet didn't recieve ANY funds from the grant we wrote, not even $5,000 which we thought would be the very minimum we'd receive. In all the years the ballet has ever requested funds through this source, this is the first year they have been denied, and surprisingly it has been the request that best fits the donor's desired goals and values. We talked to the San Angelo Symphony and they didn't receive any funding either (also super weird). We are assuming that the donor has decided to direct its money toward building the new San Angelo Performing Arts Center. We are thrilled about the center, but I guess funding for non-profit organizations like us have gone down in general in the past year. Boo hoo.

The ballet's executive director is really passionate about the need for more community outreach, not only to benefit the community but to sustain the ballet. She is having a meeting right now with the artistic director where they will seriously look at priorities and possibilities. She said she won't have any definite answers by December 1st, but hopefully sometime in December. I am really grateful that she is trying so hard to make a more permanant place for outreach at the ballet and I agree with her vision, but I am so tired of waiting (we have been "working" on this for a year now!). So for now, no outreach position. I guess I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Antsy for Some Good News

We are supposed to hear back any day now to find out if we (the ballet and I) got accepted for a grant we wrote that would fund my salary as a full-time outreach specialist for the ballet. If it goes through I could be spending my days at the ballet and in the community doing what I am super passionate about, rather than at the high school watching the minute hand chug its way around the clock. On Thursday and Friday I took the day off of school so that I could work on completing our other grant (an integrated-curriculum writing grant). I got a little taste of what my day could be like if I am able to work full-time as an outreach specialist. It certainly required a lot more effort that watching kids shred paper, but it was so much more fulfilling and I got to be with people I admire in an atmosphere that is happy and inspiring. If you can keep your fingers crossed for me I would sure appreciate it. Oh what a disappointment it will be if they say no!

ps - Soon to come: pictures (yes, PICTURES) and stories from Bret's birthday. My man is 26... what an old fart!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cast Not Away Therefore Your CONFIDENCE...

I apologize that my blog has become a little, well, seminary-ish. By the end of the day I always have more thoughts about the subject I taught that morning and feel like I need to share them with whoever may need to hear that little message.

So the thought for today is on moving forward with faith. If you are looking for a good gospel study session I suggest doing any/all of the following:

1. Read Genesis 13 and 14
     * Look for evidences that the Lord put them where they were for a reason and that He warned them it would be difficult (took them on the long route, gave them a cloud and pillar, warned Moses that Pharoah would come with his armies)
     * Look for the children of Israel's reaction (see, fear, cry unto the Lord, complain against Moses, want to give up and go back).
     * Look for the very first instruction the Lord gives to Moses after the people complain (go forward)
2. Are there times in your life when you have known that the road would be long and hard but you feel confident that that is where God wants you to go, so you begin... then when it really does get hard you begin to doubt that it is right or that you are capable? (Think how easily this applies to missionaries, new converts, newly-weds, etc etc.) When you get in these moments, like Moses and the children of Israel you will probably cry unto the Lord, sincerely seeking to know what to do next. As Elder Richard G. Scott explains in his talk "The Supernal Gift of Prayer," the Lord will occasionally give you a yes (a peace or burning in the bosom) and He will occasionally give you a no (a stupor of thought), but most frequently we feel no immediate response. These "yellow lights" are an invitation for us to "go forward" and exercise our agency and best judgement. We must look back at all He has done for us, swallow our fear of the moment, and move forward, trusting that in time a peaceful reassurance or a warning sign to change direction will be given. The key - GO FORWARD and don't become paralyzed by fear.
3. Read 1 Nephi 4:6-7 and D&C 8:2-3
4. If you want, read a great talk by Elder Jeffery R. Holland called "Cast Not Away Therefore Thy Confidence."

I was thinking about this and feeling like I don't really have "fears" that I'm facing right now, but I do have questions about the Lord's timing and his pattern for my life. I want all the details now... why is this happening and why is that not happening if I am living right and trying to move toward the blessings He has promised me. Why would He put me on one path only to hedge up the way (or so it seems right now).  I have to think back to all the times that He has taken what seemed like and obstacle and removed it in a way I wasn't expecting that made the path even better. I know He will do the same thing for me again so I will do my best to keep moving forward even without knowing exactly what is ahead.

Hope this helps any of you who are also standing next to your personal Red Sea with nowhere to go but forward. Good luck!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sweet, Sweet Peace.

I just feel the need to express thanks for the sweet peace that always seems to come after moments of turbulence. This week has been so happy. I have felt confident, capable, and able to manage my time and my thoughts. In seminary this week I taught a lesson on "growing pains" using the story of Moses' mission call (Exodus 2-5ish) and some thoughts I expressed in a previous post. We identified the fears/concerns/pains that Moses expressed and the comforts/blessings the Lord provided. Near the end of the lesson I asked the students what comforts/blessings the Lord has provided when they are experiencing their own growing pains. One students said that comfort has come in the form of friends and family. So has mine. Parents, grandparents, friends, and Bret have been incredible motivators and comforters.
Another student said they have recieved comfort from the scriptures. Me too.
And a student who I know has had some pretty big trials in years past shared that comfort has come in moments of relief... a day of peace and freedom from worry. I hadn't really thought about how those do come from the Lord to give us the strength to keep pushing through difficult times.
Im grateful for the growing pains that are helping me come to know and love my Savior and I'm so grateful that He has given me a week of relief. Really fun relief.

What has the Lord done to help you through YOUR growing pains lately?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hello, Handsome Husband

Bret taught Seminary for me this morning. Isn't that so kind of him? I REALLY appreciated having one less lesson to prepare and I loved listening to him teach. I learned some important things, both about the topic he was covering and about teaching. The best part, though, was just sitting there in the classroom watching him and realizing how lucky I am to be married to that guy. I love him.

Bret - thank you for all the little things you've done this week to keep me sane and happy. Having you home has been such a blessing - I wish I could say that in such a way that you'd really understand how very heartfelt it is. I'm excited for our fun date tomorrow morning and for the rest of our weekend together.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Have A Dream

So Bret and I have this dream of someday getting smartphones. Right now its not worth our money to upgrade our phone plans, but still, the dream lives on. And it just so happens that a few minutes ago Ashley was talking about the new phone she's getting and so the dream is in the forefront of my mind right now. But this conversation at our table brought up people's differing opinions on what kind of phones are best, and now I'm curious. I think an iPhone would be awesome because 1) I am in love with iCal and could sync it to our computer and 2) because I'm familiar with apple already. But people were saying that iPones are lame in comparison to other phones.

So tell me... what phone should be waltzing through me dreams and why? Is there a phone you prefer and why? And for those of you with an iTouch - is it cool? Is it worth it? Just curious. I'd love to learn from all you tech-savvy people!

Fall has Fallen

You know how we always say, "Spring has sprung"? Well I think its finally safe to say that Fall has fallen upon San Angelo. Today I wore a jacket - like a warm jacket - to school and I even turned the heat on yesterday in my car. Of course the sun comes out and warms things up, but the air stays kinda crisp and fresh. It is so nice! I just have this fear that I'm going to check the weather and hear, "And for tomorrow's high: 102*. Yes folks, seems that the hot weather is sticking around just a little bit longer. Maybe by Christmas we'll be out of the 90's for good." Hopefully that WON'T happen!

This Thursday is off to a great start: getting more than 5 hours of sleep, the cool weather, a fun/crazy scripture mastery day in Seminary, getting a hug from some of these cute special ed kids... and I'm looking forward to a fun day and some time spent with Bret.

Hope your Thursday is great too!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Vocal Point cuts Footloose!

I tried to copy the video into the blog, but its not working. If you want a smile on your face, watch this. Go BYU Vocal Point! We love ya!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday... Thursday... FRIDAY!

When I think of THIS guy...

I start feeling like THIS....

My head is a hurricane
My heart is a touch insane
And my body can't sleep to dream
And my eyes open up to scream
And my mouth is a thin straight line
As I'm strugglin to pass the time
And my crime is that I'm living life without him.

And the morning soon will come
And the day's only almost done
And the clock says it's half past five
But the sun is still in the sky
How long I've waited but I know

He's coming back on Friday.
He's coming back on Friday.
He's coming back on Friday.
He's coming back on FRIDAY!

(adapted from Daniel Bedingfield song called "Friday")

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Business Expo

Note to self: "Business Expo" is keyword for free pens, free coozies, free bags, free candy, free notepads, free cookies, free T-Shirts and free popcorn. Go. You will be happy.  :)

(If you get to go to a business expo during the time that you normall spend watching students shred paper, you will be extra happy! What a fun trade off!)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

9:30 and ready for bed

Congratulations to me! My wake-up time has stayed consistent at 4:30 am. This week I have woken up before my alarm at least 3 times. I don't know why I'm not sleeping very soundly, but oh well. I have only snoozed a few times this semester and 4:40 is the latest. Yay! My college roommates know that this is an incredible accomplishment (the no snoozing thing, I mean). Unfortunately, I HAVE been snoozing my bedtime, pushing it later and later each night. It hasn't gotten terrible, but after a few nights with just 5 hrs, I am totally pooped. So here's me going to bed at 9:30 pm - something that feels like a great accomplishment, but in reality will only give me the 7 hrs of sleep I need. Sweet dreams.

(PS - I can't think of anything more wonderful to dream about than seeing my best friend/handsome husband tomorrow night! These two weeks apart have flown by, but I'm so anxious to be together again.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

September Summery (spelling intentional)

I just read a friend's post entitled "September Summary" but I thought it said "Summery" at first and thought it was odd. Then I decided it was genius (and not what she had written) so I decided to steal the idea.

September is almost over, and boy is it summery. As in summer-y or summer-ish or summer-like. It is still so hot. So far in September there have been...
* 7 days at or above 100*
* 13 days at or above 90* (many of which were 95+)

Seriously? At least is has been cooling off a tiny bit at night. Sheesh! Summery indeed.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Among Friends

Since Bret and I didn't get to see each other this weekend I wanted to try to make it as relaxing as possible. Usually our weekends are a blast, but because it is our only time together I don't like to spend to much time crafting or watching TV. This weekend, however, I did both.

On Saturday morning I led a warm-up for the "Walk to End Alzheimers" (one of the ladies who comes to my broadway fit class invited me to help out). We didn't have music (the radio station bailed), so it was a rather pathetic warm-up, but who really needs to warm up to walk a mile?! Then I sat at home and watched HGTV for much longer than I intended :)  I decided I was being incredibly lazy so I went to the gym, showered, and ate a late lunch. I spent the rest of the afternoon sewing a new pencil skirt. I really like it. I finished it just in time for the Relief Society dinner/social and General Broadcast. I would choose my husband over friends any day, but I must admit that spending time with some of the women in my ward was just what I needed. My spirits just felt so lifted. The broadcast was also wonderful, especially President Uchtdorf's talk. He reminded us of 5 things to "forget not"...

1. Forget not to be patient with yourself.
2. Forget not that some sacrifices are better than others.
3. Forget not to be happy NOW.
4. Forget not the "why" of the gospel.
5. Forget not that the Lord loves you.

President Uchtdorf is such a wonderful leader. I feel that he is truly a window to our Heavenly Father's love. What a good appetizer for General Conference next week. I can't wait for that spiritual feast!

Today I sat with the Jeppsons at church. Meg sat on my lap the whole time and Kate was right next to us. I just felt so happy and content. I am grateful for good friends who let me be a part of their lives and their family. I think the best part of my day was when Meg asked if it could be her turn to draw a picture. (I had given Kate a notebook and pen and asked her to draw a picture of Jesus to help her be quiet during the Sacrament.) I told Meg that we should let Kate have another turn because Meg and I were having snuggle time. She paused a minute to think, then nodded and then wrapped her arms around me. I know it sounds so silly, but that little 6-year-old did so much to bring me joy and comfort today in a way that nobody else could. Thanks Meg for sitting on my lap and giving me hugs.

Some other sweet friends have invited me to come eat dinner with them in a few minutes. Is there any way I can ensure that we always live in a ward like this one? I feel like we really are becoming a ward family and I love that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Growing Pains

Growing Painsby Dayle King Searle

Dear Lord, please forgive
my foolish, selfish tears.
Please understand
and wipe away my fears.
I know that this will help me grow
and reach a higher plane,
But growing isn’t easy,
and I’m having growing pains.

(found on lds.org from the August 1980 New Era)

Last night I gave into a moment of weakness and let myself have a pity party. I tried to end each negative sentence with, "But its ok. It will all be ok. It's not that bad."  And while I meant those words, what I really felt was, "This is hard. I don't know how much longer I can keep doing this. I don't know if I want to keep doing this. Its too difficult. I'm tired."

After a few tears and some deep breaths I realized that I just needed to go to bed and everything would seem much better in the morning. Things did seem much better this morning. But they aren't fixed. They aren't supposed to be fixed.

Today my thoughts are about growing pains. We were sent to the Earth to grow into the beings that Heavenly Father wants us to become. We are here to realize our potential to become just like He is. He is perfect and all-knowing and wonderful and kind. That requires an awful lot of growing. It is only natural that with that much growth there will be some element of pain involved. I knew that when I accepted the calling to teach Seminary that my days would be long and busy and that at times I would undoubtedly feel tired, worn-out and discouraged, but I accepted the call because I knew such challenges would force me to rely on the Lord.

Today I read these two quotes from the talk "Followers of Christ" by Elder Walter F. Gonzalez in the April 2011 General Conference. Following the quotes are my personal thoughts.

"As Christ followed the Father under any circumstance, we should follow His Son. If we do so, it matters not what kind of persecution, suffering, grief, or 'thorn in the flesh' we face. We are not alone. Christ will assist us. His tender mercies will make us mighty under any circumstances."

Right now, the most comforting promise is that we are not alone. Since a lot of my current frustrations center around dissatisfaction at work, my jam-packed schedule, and being without my best friend, there isn't really anything that others can do to help me fix my problems. When I want to vent or need a hug, I should not try to dump my burdents on another but should go to my Savior. I know that He will help me not to feel alone. I also love that as I try to become a better teacher and leader that he can make me mighty under any circumstances, no matter how weak I am.

"Truly loving Christ provides the required strength to follow Him."
I am trying to help the Seminary students find principles and patterns in their scriptures. I see a pattern here:
If I find it difficult to follow Christ (whether that means obeying His commandments or just trusting in Him daily) I should work on loving Him more. If I need help loving Him more, I must get to know Him better. To get to know Him better I have to study the scriptures, pray, and experience some of the pain that He endured. "Christ chose to experience pains and afflictions in order to understand us. Perhaps we also need to experience the depths of mortality in order to understand Him and our eternal purposes" (Elder Kent F. Richards, "The Atonement Covers All Pain," May 2011 Conference). In essence, by going through this challenging time of life, I am coming to know my Savior, love Him more, and thus recieve strength to follow Him more faithfully.
I just want whoever reads this to know that I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I know that this is an exciting time to be on the earth and that the gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth today with the same doctrines, covenants, and ordinances that have existed since the world was created. I know that somehow in the midst of His myriad of creations, the Lord knows me and He cares about who I become. I love my life, my husband, my family, and I am truly happy about the opportunities the Lord has given me so far in my life. I look forward to the joy that will come with further growth and know that the pains required will be minimal compared to the blessings I will receive in return.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

1/2 Way and Happy

Bret's first clinical is officially half way over. YEAH BABY! We can be tough for four more weeks! Especially when we have three more fun weekends to look forward to. I think we may have done a verbal run-down of the next 4 weeks about 20 times....

Bret: "Okay, so this weekend has been awesome. And then nothing next week... are you sure you're going to be ok? Because if not let me know and I'll make an emergency visit to see you." (I pause to insert that I have the sweetest husband ever.) "So that means two weeks without seeing eachother, but then I'll come home for conference. Maybe we can make a nice dinner or go to Fuentes before Priesthood session. And then the week after that you'll come to San Antonio and we'll do a temple session at 11:00. Jarom and Becky will probably come. Did you tell them what time the session is? Maybe we can take them to the Japanese Tea Gardens. And then then next week I move home for good!"

We had this same conversation over and over and now I'm writing it down and I'm sure we'll keep saying it over the phone... I guess it is just reassurring to break it down like that and know that even though the time apart is hard we have so many fun things to look forward to.


This weekend was wonderful. I took the day off on Friday... let's call it a "mental health" day. It worked wonders. Then I met Bret at Enchanted Rock, a state park right outside of Fredericksburg. We got there about an hour later than expected due to Bret getting let off late + my faulty mapquest directions, but we got there nonetheless. We set up our tent as the sun faded from dim to dark. I wish we had taken the camera, but I forgot it, along with the hammer. I'm not sure which one I am more sad about not bringing. The tent was impossible to set up without a hammer for the stakes (yes, we tried it without stakes and yes, the whole tent fell down). Luckily an LDS scout group was camping near us and we borrowed a machete from them which did the trick. It was perfect weather and we slept with the tent "window" and "door" open (screened for bugs of course). In the morning Bret made an awesome breakfast while I slept in a bit. Then we packed everything up and went for a hike around/up Enchanted Rock. It was actially pretty cool. Nothing compares with the mountains, but the hill country is very pretty and we loved the view from the top of the rock. The breeze and overcast weather were perfect! We can't wait to go back with friends - hopefully when the burn ban is lifted - and camp for a little longer!

After camping we drove into Fredericksburg, went window shopping on Main Street (where I did give in and buy some really pretty fabric to make a shirt). Then we checked into our hotel, cleaned the camping smell off of us, and decided to go do dinner and a show before the BYU/UTAH game. We ordered some delicious pizza and ate it outside where we could people-watch and enjoy the breeze. Then we went to a show that was SO FUN! It is called the Rockbox Theatre and they put on performances of different styles of rock music but they do it in a way that it is really fun and entertaining and totally family friendly. When Bret called to get tickets he asked for a student discount and the lady on the phone felt bad that they didn't offer one, so she gave us front row seats for the regular price. I haven't sat on the front row of anything for a long time, but this was awesome! We liked it so much that we took advantage of their "cheap tickets at intermission deal" so now we have tickets to use sometime within the next year. Unfortunately we went home from this awesome show and watched BYU get smoked by Utah. Sigh.

Today we went to church at the Fredericksburg Branch and loved the speakers' messages. Then we took a little drive out of town past some orchards and wineries to the Lindon B. Johnson State/National Park. We didn't know what to expect but it was actually pretty cool. They let you borrow a cd for free that guides you, in your car, past LBJ's birthplace, little schoolhouse, gravestone, around his ranchland, and to their "Ranch Whitehouse". You can stop and go in, but we chose not to (you do have to pay a small fee to see the "Whitehouse"). The land was gorgeous (although we were sad everything looks so dry and brown in this drought) and we liked learning a little about President Johnson. Then we ate a picnic lunch (aka-granola bars and "extras" from the continental breakfast at the hotel) and went for a walk before heading our separate ways. What a fun weekend. I'm sure glad we will have so many fun memories to run on for the next week.

(And to Bret: "Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow." [from "Romeo and Juliet"]  Thank you for everything. I love you.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Satan's Candy Coating

Ever bitten into a caramel-covered onion? Daniel Dixon and Andrea Rodriguez would suggest you don't! Ever. Not even one bite. (Unfortunately, even the multiple sticks of gum I gave them won't get rid of the flavor and smell for quite a while.)

Just like the candy-coating on a caramel onion completely masks the potent vegetable underneath, its sometimes hard to see past Satan's candy coatings. He likes to make bad things look so darn good. By good I mean appealing, but sometimes even wholesome and right.

An onion is an onion. Don't let Satan trick you into taking a bite, no matter how enticing the outside looks.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Job is a Joke

7:15-10:00  Supervise 4 kids as they fill out job applications and play free online games. Occasionally I get to help them answer a question, spell a word, or tell them that the site they are looking at is not school appropriate.

10:00-1:30  Sit in the small lobby area at Howard College and attempt to plan seminary lessons or do something productive. Lots of distractions. Hard to focus. One boy who ALWAYS has his dirty rap music playing for all to hear (go figure- he sat down just as I started typing this sentence). On Tuesdays and Thursdays I get to feed Ashley. Usually I wait outside for the bus with her.

1:30-2:30   Sit at a Credit Union and watch girls in the Vocational Education program shred paper (they are special ed but very high level). They don't need my help or supervision. So I just watch and try not to fall asleep.

2:30-4:00   Either go back to Howard to wait for the bus with Ashley or go back to the High School to watch the clock for an hour and a half. No duties. Plenty of other teachers and aides around for the kids to do absolutely nothing with.

So the question is WHAT EXACTLY AM I BEING PAID TO DO? I get that they kind of need someone to supervise these kids, but in all honesty, I think my job is totally expendable. It has been 3.5 weeks and I'm ready to scream (I already tried crying... it helped some). I just don't know how I can take 8 more months of this.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IN THIS SITUATION? Honestly - I'm interested to know! How would you deal with the situation?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Confessions of a 23-year old Drama Queen

I was left the house at 5:30 am and got home at 7:10 pm. I want to go to bed at 9:30. I need to plan a couple lessons for seminary. Would you like to know what I am doing? WATCHING "BATCHELOR PAD". What the heck is this show? The Batchelor + Survivor? What? I am so confused and intrigued that I keep watching. Seriously WHAT IS THIS? It is the stupidest, pettiest thing... and I'm secretly feeling like this is the perfect cure for my long long day. :)

(Have you lost all respect for me? If it makes you feel better, I have never followed Bachelor or Bachelorette and never plan to do so in the future. This is purely a one-night, waste-time, think-of-something-other-than-seminary kick.)

Okay, and last thing: How pathetic are these seemingly super-romantic relationship? Luck lukcy me. I have the world's best husband!

Wonderful Weekend #3

*  "True Grit" at the free downtown outdoor movie night that San Angelo puts on (How did we not know      about these movies? It was way fun and perfect weather!)

*  College Game-Day while eating French Toast and creamy caramel syrup

*  Tennis  (we are really lousy, but it was fun to get out and move around)

*  Watching the BYU/UT game with friends & eating yummy food

*  Holding hands at church :)

*  Making a big breakfast for lunch

*  Sunday naps

*  Giving Bret a haircut in the kitchen (actually turned out pretty darn good!)

*  Planning out the next 5 weeks of this long-distance relationship. The good news is that Friday will mark the half-way point. We've found a way to see eachother all but one weekend.

Today's seminary lesson was about the Flood in Noah's time. We talked about how merciful it was. Everything God does, even when it initally seems unkind, is for our good. I know that although this time in our marriage seems painful and frustrating, we are seeing the blessings and growth.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Football Season is Back!

Poor Cougars. What a great start and lousy finish to a game we so wanted to win. Either way, we were proud to be BYU fans in Texas today.

We ended up watching the game with the Kings and the Caldwells, two families in our ward that are also in the Physical Therapy program at ASU. The Kings also graduated from BYU and the Caldwells are from AZ but they have family ties to BYU and are cougar fans just the same. It was fun to watch the game and be in the company of friends we haven't hung out with for a while.

And can I admit something? I actually are really excited about it being football season. I'll never be as into it as Bret, but I'm feeling giddy about the slightly cooler weather, the school fight songs, the team spirit, the voice of the announcers, the green grass, the stadium lights. What is happening to me?!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Things are Looking Great... and They're Only Gettin' Better!

Bret and I had a really fun weekend in San Antonio. The Livesy's are taking such good care of him and were so nice to let me stay over the weekend. We went to the temple,  ate delicious food together, did a river-walk boat tour, went shopping, ate more delishious food, watched "Tangled"... it was such a great long weekend and we really did take a rest from our labors on Labor Day!

I love having Mondays off because not only do you get a free day, but when you go back to work/school the week flies by. The last two days of seminary have been super fun. I do and will always have lots to improve on, but the one thing that I am really happy about is that we have a feeling of safety and comfort and fun in our class. I think. I feel like we all legitimately enjoy being there together. And guess what?! No sleepy-heads yet! (Probably because I'm such a spastic teacher that they don't want to miss the next stupid thing I'll do!)

Well, that's basically my life these days... work, seminary, dance, prep, wait for the weekends. Its a busy, fun, wonderful experience and since we've already got 1/4 of Bret's clinical done, I only forsee things getting better and better.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thank Goodness Its Friday!

This been a long week. NOT A BAD WEEK; just a long week. I am so excited that at 6:30 pm (in 6 hours and 15 minutes) I'll be on the road to see my best friend and spend a long weekend in San Antonio. I am really excited to go to the temple. We've been studying the Moses, Abraham and Genesis in seminary - the chapters that cover the creation, the fall, agency, the purpose of mortality, the role of the Savior, the plan of the devil, etc. I'm really excited to feel enlightened by what the temple has to add and offer. I'm excited to feel the special peace that pervades the temple and I'm excited to sit by my sweetheart and remember the covenants we have made with our Lord.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I am a Learner

I teach seminary. I teach little girls to dance. I teach adults to dance (sort-of). I teach special needs students social/job/life skills. But I wanted to title today's post "I am a Learner" because no matter how long we teach something, we can always be learning how to do it better. Yesterday I did a lot of learning about teaching. I was observed teaching seminary by the area director (who happens to be one of our best friends in Texas), I was unknowingly observed teaching PreBallet by my director and by parents, I was obeserved teaching my 2 adult classes by the adults themselves (they can form their own opinions about what is and is not a good class), and I tried to observe myself teaching the special ed kids at Central.  You'd think that would be overwhelming and stressful. Many of those situations had potenial to result in stress or frustration. I am so happy that they all ended positively - not exactly because I was given gold stars on all accounts, but because I was able to accept what I leared with a positive attitude. I feel motivated, encouraged, determined to keep improving, and happy to be a teacher of so many different kinds of people.

When are you a learner? How do you make sure that you keep growing and improving?

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Bret is 1/8 of the way through his clinical. We are 1/8 of the way through our long-distance relationship. I am 1/16 of the way through the semester. Woo! Woo! We can do it.

I hated not having him here this week. I am so bad at being alone. But I can't stop thinking how blessed we are that we can see each other every weekend. Having many milirary friends and others in our ward whose husbands are employed elsewhere while they try to sell their homes has made me remember that I shouldn't complain because our situation really isn't all that bad. But that doesn't mean it isn't challenging for us to be apart.

Bret came home around 9:00 on Friday night. We spend the whole weekend doing lots of nothing and loving every minute of it. We really just sat around and enjoyed being together. It felt like we were on vacation. Finally yesterday we decided we had spent a little too much time vegging inside but it was too hot to do anything outside so we had our first bowling adventure in San Angelo. The alley was alright - quite old and not without its quirks, but we had a great time. Then we made some dessert together. Today we relaxed some more and went to stake conference. It was a wonderful meeting and I was so glad we could be there together.

After a yummy dinner, we had to say goodbye again. It wasn't any easier the second week. BUT we are counting down the days until Friday when I get to go to San Antonio for a 3-day weekend with him. We're planning to go to the temple, treat the Liveseys to pizza and a movie, and find some other fun things to do together.

I guess that the saying "distance makes the heart grow fonder" must be true, because I'm realizing that no matter how wonderful, fun, successful, and exciting my life is, it simply can't live up to hanging out with my husband. Bret - thank you for the most fun weekend we've had in a long time. 5 more days, baby!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tender Mercies

Today in the window of time between seminary ending and school starting I decided to list the tender mercies & blessings I've experienced this week. The list was extensive. I wouldn't know where to begin turning them into a blog post (or posts). I am grateful that of the millions and millions of people on this earth (and in worlds without number!) that God has taken the time to be my personal Heavenly Father by giving me timely blessings and feelings of peace. I love Him and am so happy to be a little part of His work: bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

What Tender Mercies have you recieved this week?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Convocation and Meetings

Tuesday we had Convocation, which is the opening "Hoorah" for all the school district employees. We had some musical performances by students and former students, introduced all the schools and "groups" like custodians, technology, etc. Then former American Idol participant Scott MacSomething (I can't remember his last name) spoke and played the piano. It was pretty inspirational.

After that, I was supposed to teach an inservice to all the Elementary PE teachers on how to incorporate dance into their classes. I was super nervous but really excited. It was supposed to start at 1:00. I wanted to get there early to set up, but not a soul was on the campus. Everything was locked and I had a feeling everyone was still out getting lunch after Convocation. I didn't want to sit outside without AC so I drove over to the ballet to wait 20 minutes. I got back to the school aroun 12:40 and now the only person there was another inservice teacher (she does all the technology trainigs for the district). We waited and chatted until 12:58 when the bus pulled up with all the Fort Concho Elementary people on it. I quickly started asking people where I was supposed to be, if I could use their copy machine, how many PE teachers were coming, etc... and through asking these questions discovered that the PE teachers were told to go to another campus for training. YIKES! We found the principal, the awesom pro-arts lady who asked me to come teach this in the first place, and she said, "Oh no, didn't you get my email this morning?! I talked to the person in charge of the PE teachers this morning and somehow they didn't know you were coming so they made plans to meet and talk about something else."

I was so disappointed. She was awesome and it totally wasn't her fault - the PE people hadn't understood what she had discussed with them or were flaky or something. She feels really strongly about using dance as a teaching tool and is determined to have me work with them (or maybe even academic teachers in the future) sometime, but at the moment I was so nervous/excited that it was a pretty big let-down.

The good news is that this mistake (or tender mercy) cleared up my schedule so that I could attend the Special Ed training where I was really supposed to be. It turns out that they asked Ashley to come as a guest speaker. She kept it a secret and I had just found out earlier that morning, so I was really glad to make it and hear her speak. She was AWESOME. She has a really hard time writing - she can never think of what to say has a really hard time elaborating. We tried to work on it last year, but its just hard for her to use a lot of words in her writing when she usually doesn't speak at all. Well, she wrote this speech entirely by herself that was witty, moving and well-organized. She had the whole thing typed into her dynavox so she could wheel up to the front, push play, and just smile at everyone. People were so touched. I was so proud!! It was fun to chat with her for a few minutes and give her a big hug. How's that for a good ending to a bad afternoon?!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to School

On Monday the staff and faculty of the school district went back to work. At least I get to ease back into work, rather than starting SAISD, SACB, and Seminary all on the same day! I'm at a new campus (Central High School in stead of Lake View) but I'll hardly ever be on campus. I will spend the first two class periods on a job-site with a special needs student, then I'll spend the rest of the day at Howard College with Ashley. I'm excited to be with her again. It will be interesting to see how things play out though because she is going to be much more independent and I will have lots of sitting time while I'm there. I won't be IN her college classes with her, but will be outside the classroom incase she needs any personal assistance. They have a note-taker all set up for her and she will be expected to everything else on her own.  Then after class we'll spend the rest of the afternoon studying, applying for jobs (until she gets a job, at which time I can "help" her with that), doing recreational/leisure activities in the community, etc. She may say, "I want to go to this study group" or "I'm going to go hang out with some friends in the cafeteria and then take TRANSA home." All of this is encouraged, so the less I have to do, the better. That worries me just a little because I know I'm going to feel guilty just sitting there, not being useful, but I have to remember that IS my job. After we assess how things are going and she feels comfortable with less assistance I might be pulled some of the time to help with other students on job sites.  As much as I'm dreading being bored, I think I will be able to get a lot of lesson planning done (for Modern, Jazz, Seminary, and for my Outreach Grant)! I guess that's a bonus.

Well, I'm supposed to be here for about 45 more minutes, but I am an aide which means I have no classroom to set up, no rolls to prepare, etc. I have done all the work that everyone has asked my help with and now I'm going to find a way to kill 30 more minutes and then meander over to my car :)  So I guess this post could be re-titled, "The Pros and Cons of Being an Aide". Pros - not as much to do. Cons - not as much to do. Interesting.

Friday, August 5, 2011

To Do Lists (and how not to do them)

Blogs are good for a lot of things... including procrastination. I'm usually pretty disciplined about it. But when I want an excuse to sit on my patootie the blog is a perfect solution for that.

On my list of things to do today: print and mail seminary opening social invitations. I have been waiting to do this until I asked the seminary/institute director about it. The prior seminary teacher in our area help a meeting the night before school started to get parents and students on the same page about seminary so I thought it was what I was supposed to do. I've got it all planned out and invitations all typed up and designed the way I want... and now I've been told that I need to okay it with all the bishops and ask them to speak and so forth. I don't have a problem with that, but I feel like it makes everything so much more complicated to make 3 busy men do what I have already prepared. Hopefully it won't really be that complex to get it approved and have one or two of them speak... I just hate when I can't make things happen because I have to wait for things to go past a handful of other people. I thought I was ahead of the game but now I wish I had brought this up two weeks ago. Oh well. No check mark on one.

On a less stressful note, some of you know that in April we received a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts for me to draft a curriculum that integrates dance with some portion of the TEKS (Texas Educational Knowledge and Skills or something like that - basically the state's core curriculum that they test on). I have a cooperating elementary school teacher and together we have chosen to integrate dance into 3rd grade science. I will do all the lesson planning and she will occasionally give some academic guidance and make sure the science curriculum is correct. On Tuesday I had to present this curriculum idea before a board of school district and community members. I was nervous but it went really well and people LOVE LOVE LOVED the idea of dance being an educational teaching tool. (Wahoo!!!) They were so compelled by the idea that they asked me to come to a science summer camp for gifted/talented students they were putting on and help a handful of students do their final project as a dance piece that represents what they learned.  (We figured it would be a great way to show people how well science concepts and dance can be integrated.)  I didn't really know what to expect when I showed up today but it ended up being fun. Only 3 kids signed up to do a dance project (and who can blame them... most of them have had little or no exposure to dance) - a 7th grade boy, an 8th grade boy, and a 4th grade girl. How's that for an interesting group?! I was a little overwhelmed at first because no one had really explained very well what I was getting myself into, but they ended up creating a GREAT dance about the Wastewater Treatment Center and the journey of water from our toilets to the irrigation system. (We fondly called it the poop dance.) I'm so grateful that it was a success and that those who were involved as well as the audience saw it as a really valuable learning experience for these kids.

At that meeting I also got asked to provide training for all the PE teachers in the school district on how to incorporate creative dance into their gym classes. Whew! I'm so nervous and overwhelmed. I have just over a week to prepare. I'm really excited about all these great opportunities to bring dance into San Angelo... its just what I've wanted to do... but its hard not to have a mentor nearby to ask questions of.

Well, I should probably go check some more things off my to do list... call Midas so they can fix my car window, type up some more Old Testament reading guides, write a talk on the Holy Ghost for a new friend's baptism tomorrow, and pester some bishops about a seminary opening social.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

the Naptime Dance Project

My friend Elizabeth from BYU Dancers Company started this great blog/project called the Naptime Dance Project. The idea is to give stay-at-home mom's a dance outlet. A group of 6 dancers is chosen for a 6-week "season" in which they create solos and duets on video and write dance-related articles. I am not a stay-at-home mom, but I heard the Elizabeth was short a dancer and offered to join in the fun. So far only my bio and my first written piece has been posted, but check back next week for a funny duet spearheaded by Amelia. For any of you dance-minded people who read my blog, its just a fun place to see what other people are thinking and creating with dance. Check it out!

Friday, July 29, 2011

A New Look...

Not for me... for the blog. When I opened my blog this morning the background was all messed up and I couldn't figure out how to fix it. Thanks to some help from the blog genius (aka, my friend Becky)  I was able to remove the old background. I added this new one because I think its fun and fresh and semi-summery. I'm not sure that I love how the top (picture with title) turned out but after fiddling for a little too long I think its good enough for now. Opinions?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

More trains, planes and automobiles... this time in Idaho

Last Friday (over a week ago), Bret started his vacation home to Idaho to see his sister, Karina, get married.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go because I had already agreed to pick up a dance student from Chicago that weekend (see previous post). Bret drove 3hrs to Austin, left his car at a friend's house, and caught a plane to Utah. He spent a day with my family (those meanies even took him to see Harry Potter without me!) and then borrowed D-rew's car to drive to Burley. He has spent the past week with his wonderful family. They have gone boating on the Snake River, played many games, prepared food and decorations for Karina's reception and family dinner, driven to Rexburg for the wedding, and have had lots of fun visiting with all the siblings and Grandma & Grandpa Black.

I so wish I could be with them. I miss my Bret's family a lot. I don't know if they know how much I admire and look up to them. I love being the oldest in my family, but feel blessed that I inherited a handful older 'siblings' whose examples teach me how to be a better wife and a better future mother. The Wardles, especially Millie and Jay, have taught me so much about being grateful for what is good rather than dwelling on what isn't perfect, about enduring through challenges with faith, about loving and supporting your children even when they make mistakes, and about simplifying life so that family, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and quality time are always the priority.

** All these pictures are old, from random trips home, but they paint a perfect picture of what Bret is doing right now.


** I know this is long and detailed... read if you want, but it was mostly a way for me to document the trip for myself.

Day 1:

On Wednesday morning I caught a plane to Chicago. Getting there was a piece of cake... no problems with flights or with navigating the trains (subway system). Shantal and Derek live in an AWESOME apartment that has a perfect view of Navy Pier and Lake Michigan and also has great skyline scenes. Its right next to Millennium Park and the theatre/shopping district. I loved spending a couple hrs catching up with my BYU dance pal while enjoying that great scenery.

That evening Shantal and I picked up Allyson (mystudent) from the Joffrey, ordered Giordano's deep dish pizza, and met Derek at Millennium Park for a picnic and free concert by the symphony. We walked to Navy Pier, watched the fireworks, took Allyson home, and wandered back to their apartment through the park.

Day 2:
Thursday morning I took a bus to Lou Conte Dance Studio (home of Hubbard Street Dance Company) for an advanced Jazz class taught by Harrison McEldowny. Note to self: You are not an advanced dancer in Chicago terms. It quickly became apparent that most of the other dancers knew each other and were very serious about making it in the dance world. I decided to stay and have a good time. It was challenging, both technically and stylistically, but I kept up and had lots of fun. I LOVED the teacher's style - very Fosse-inspired - and wish I could take it again (with friends).

After class I rode the train (subway) to Michigan Street (the “Magnificent Mile” where lots of great shopping is) and looked a lot but didn’t buy anything. It was fun to wander, but I decided that traveling by yourself is very lonely.

Next I planned to take two classes at another dance studio called Visceral Dance Center, quite a ways North of downtown. I was really stupid and only rode the bus 1/3 of the way there, not realizing that I could get on another bus. When I remembered about the second bus I realized there wasn’t quite enough money on my transit card for another ride and I didn’t have any cash. I walked about about 45 minutes to the dance studio and was way too late to take the first class. Instead I got dinner and set out to ensure that there would be money on my card to get home that night. (I could walk to the train station where there are machines that allow you to add money to your transit card with a credit card, but it would mean walking 20+ minutes in the dark in an area I didn't feel super safe in.) I tried getting cash back... no luck. I tried multiple ATMs... no luck. I tried calling my bank for help... no luck. (I haven’t needed to use an ATM for so long that I thought my Wells Fargo Visa worked as a debit card as well. Apparently it is the opposite way... my debit card can also work as an ATM card.) Sweet Bret was such a comfort to me as I worked myself into a panic. He told me to get back to the studio and take the second class so my long walk would be worth it, and figure it out after.

I took the Advanced Contemporary class from Lizzie Mackenzie and really enjoyed it. Ok, I mostly enjoyed it. I think if I hadn’t been so stressed and frustrated and lonely I would have liked it a lot more. I haven’t ever taken a legitimate contemporary class (its a little different than modern) and though I faked it pretty well, I certainl felt like my body and my brain were rusty from nearly 2 years of not taking a dance class. I loved the teacher’s style and her use of improvisation, imagery, and even somatics in class. After class it is customary to thank the teacher. I took the opportunity to ask her where the closest train station was. I think she could tell I was a little stressed (ok, she knew I was a lot stressed) and offered to drive me to a train station I had passed on my walk there. How kind is that? I was so grateful. She dropped me off and drove off and I discovered there was no transit card machine at the entrance, thus I still had no way to put more money on my card. Luckily I realized there was a second entrance to the train, went there, found the machine, put more money on my transit card, and got on the train. A few stations away from my destination, the train was stalled for about 10 minutes, but luckily it was able to continue on. Shantal even surprised me by picking me up at the station in her car so I wouldn’t have to walk the last 3/4 mile home (which was the least of my worries by then!). Note to self: Travel with cash. Travel with ATM card. Travel with a public transportation map, not just handwritten notes.

Day 3:

Friday was oh-so-much better. I got to watch the sky fall from Shantal’s apartment as a crazy rain and thunderstorm broke out. Luckily it only lasted an hour and cooled things off a bit. I took a class called Keep Fit Ballet at the Joffrey which was a fun, low-pressure way to take ballet. I was reminded that I have horrid turnout and extension, but I had a great time working on it. The Joffrey studios are gorgeous and have large full-wall windows that look out on the street.

After going back to theapartment to shower, I spent some more timeon the Magnificent Mile (still didn’t buy anything) and then met Shantal at the Joffrey to watch Allyson’s performance. We loved it. The girls did great and I was especially proud of 14-year-old Allyson!) The choreography was really enjoyable, too. We walked all the way down the Magnificent Mile AGAIN to eat at Cheesecake Factory per Allyson’s request. The only kink in my day was getting home. It was too far of a walk to get to Allyson’s dorm, soDerek looked up a bus route and found 3 that should take us directly to where we wanted to go. Shantal walked home (not as far and safely packed with people) while Allyson and I waited 15 minutes for a bus. None came our way. We finally found some more information and learned that the busses Derek recommended all stopped running mid-evening, and by now it was 10:45pm! No biggie - we decided just to go a couple blocks over and get on a train. We asked a policeman if we were on the right street and he strongly encouraged us not to ride the train. He said there had been lots of muggings and scary incidents on this particular line and advised us to stay off. Allyson, being the smart one, talked me into just getting a cab, and so we got to her dorm quickly and safely. Unfortunately, I still had to walk a couple miles home alone, but I was smart and was really aware of my surroundings. There were always other people on the streets (although not as many as I would have liked) and I stayed close to the nice-looking ones.

Day 4:

After about 4 hrs of sleep, I left Shantal’s apartment at 5:45 am, got a cab, picked up Allyson, and got to the airport by 6:20! We were certain that after such a smooth start to the day, and with 2 hrs and 40 min before our departure time, that we would have an easy time getting home. Nope.

The airport, which is always busy, was insane. Signs were unclear and nobody was there to help direct traffic, so we ended up waiting 45 minutes in the wrong line (mind you, we had asked other people for advice and they thought we were doing the right thing too!), then Allyson’s suitcase was too heavy and she had to adjust, then the security line was forever long (I wish I had a picture... words won’t do it justice). The gate number on our tickets were incorrect so we had speed-walk to a new area. Whew! We finally made it to the right gate 10 minutes before they started boarding. Note to self: San Angelo airport = 1-1.5 hrs early, SLC airport = 1.5-2 hrs early, Chicago O’Hare airport = 3-5 hrs early. Luckily, everything else was good. Our flight from Dallas to San Angelo was delayed an hour but not a big deal. I was so happy to get into my little car and drive myself home from the airport. Public transportation is ok, but I sure am grateful to leave behind the planes and trains and busses and stick to my automobile!

All in all, Chicago was a good learning and growing experience. I learned a lot about what do and what not to do when traveling in the city. I was forced to be ok with doing things on my own when I would usually have been accompanied by friends or family. It was harder than I expected to take dance classes alone and especially when I feel so rusty, but I learned to suck it up and not get discouraged or frustrated with myself. I learned that I don’t want to live in a big city. Its just too crowded and stressful. I realized how grateful I am for the prayer and the companionship of the Holy Ghost. When I was nervous or frustrated or lonely, I was so comforted to know that I could talk to my Heavenly Father. I felt empowered as I thought about the blessings of the temple that are with me always. I felt lucky as I saw incredibly talented and successful dancers who lacked the real joys of life that I have like a husband, the gospel, and a knowledge of my Savior.

I am glad that I got to go to Chicago, but I am so happy to be home and can’t wait until Bret gets back on Tuesday so we can be together again.