Sunday, March 23, 2014

Happy Now--March 23

Here are my Happy Now for this week:

1.  Husband's Birthday--Darren's birthday was on Tuesday, and I was grateful for a day to celebrate him!  I had fun surprising him with some birthday decorations and gifts and, as always, he reacted to my efforts with such gratitude and excitement.  He also received some generous gifts from both sets of parents and well wishes from other family and friends.  Happy birthday, Darren.  Sure love you!

2.  Birthday Cake--Darren always requests the same type of birthday cake: white confetti cake with rainbow chip frosting.  I definitely don't mind since it's my favorite, too!

3.  Activity Days Moose--We had a surprise visitor during our Primary Activity Days on Wednesday--a baby moose!  This poor thing looked like he'd had a bit of a tough time with patches of missing fur, but he was still cute. ;)  We had to keep the girls inside until he decided to move on, but I was excited to finally capture a moose on film ... and a baby one at that!

I texted this picture to my parents and brother, and I have to include some of their responses.  They crack me up! :)

4.  Spring Flowers--I decided to celebrate the first day of spring this week with some fresh flowers for our kitchen.  There are few things that brighten up a room like some pretty petals, I think.  I am SO ready for this new season!

5.  Spring Cleaning--Putting the new, fresh flowers in a vase totally energized me to start some spring cleaning around our apartment.  I rearranged some items in our kitchen and started going through my closet trying to decide what was ready to go and what new items I might need for spring.  ;)  Have I mentioned how excited I am for some warmer weather?

6.  Base Camp Challenge--Friday I subbed for an 8th grade Language Arts teacher.  This was the last day before Spring Break and, oh my, these students were a handful.  Middle school isn't my favorite, and this day seemed especially rough.  Fortunately, the principal arranged for an assembly during the last hour of school.  The assembly was a competition between 6th, 7th, and 8th grade base camps (homerooms).  The teachers of each base camp were in charge of keeping track of their class's points during the competition.  One of the students I had taught that day came running up to me saying they needed me to fill in for their teacher ... and they ended up winning the entire competition!  The students were SO excited.  It was a happy moment, and I was sure glad to end the day on a high note.

7.  Library Card--I am the proud new owner of a Pinedale Library card!  Pinedale has a beautiful new library.  I have gone there a few times to work on my computer, but I had yet to check anything out.  Now I can (and have)!  It makes me feel like more of an official Pinedale resident.  :)

8.  Girls' Night--I was invited over to my neighbor's house last night for a girls' night.  My neighbor, Sharlyn, is so sweet, and I really admire her family.  She has three boys and three girls ranging in ages from 12 to 2, and they are all so adorable.  Her husband took the boys out last night and Sharlyn and the girls invited a couple of ladies from the ward over to watch the LDS Pride and Prejudice (boy, did that take me back!).  It was so fun to hang out with these women and girls!

9.  New Primary Lyrics--Today during opening exercises in Primary, the chorister asked the kids to close their eyes while they sang "I Love to See the Temple" as part of a game.  I was sitting next to one of the little guys in my class and started to notice he was changing some lyrics.  I know he knows the song, but I guess he was feeling creative and uninhibited with his eyes closed.  He was sitting very calmly with his arms folded.  He would sing the correct words and then insert lines like "I am being so reverent.  I am peaceful" to the tune of the song.  I love these sweet kids!

10.  Sunday Cat Nap--It has been a while since I've taken a Sunday nap.  Today after church, however, I was relaxing on the couch while Darren and I were watching T.V., sun rays were coming through the window and warming the couch, and I began to doze.  I never fell into a deep sleep, always somewhat aware of what was going on on the television, but it was SO relaxing.  It was the perfect way to spend part of the afternoon!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Now--March 17

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  This post is a day late because I was asked to wait a day before posting my Happy Now #10, and I had to include it!

1.  Kindergarten Class:  This week was the first time I subbed in a kindergarten class.  I was pretty nervous beforehand.  Kindergartners have such short little attention spans, and there were quite a few of them!  It didn't help that the assistant principal took the opportunity to walk me to the classroom so that she would have time to tell me about one particularly difficult little girl.  I expected to leave the classroom crawling from exhaustion.  I was thrilled to find as I sat down at the teacher's desk during lunch time, however, that I was actually really enjoying myself!  There was something about their energy, too, that was contagious.  What a pleasant little surprise!  I definitely admire those sweet teachers who are in the classroom with these little ones full-time and give them such a positive introduction to formal schooling.

2.  Spanish Globe Game--The day after subbing in Kindergarten, I subbed in a high school Spanish class.  Most of the periods were required to take a quiz and then play a Spanish-themed game.  The last period of the day chose to play the "Spanish Globe Game."  This game required the students to get in a circle, each choose a different Spanish verb, and take turns throwing a fabric globe to different people in the circle to practice saying the verbs while someone in the middle of the circle tried intercepting the pass.  Make sense?  Well, the main point is that after about 5 minutes of playing they invited me to join the game.  Since high school was the last time I was in a Spanish class, they assigned me the word "hola" instead of a verb.  Nice.  Fortunately, I caught every pass and could remember enough verbs to pass the globe without going in the middle.  Whew!  I actually thought it was sweet of them to include me and was a nice way to bond with the students, something I don't usually get to do as the sub.  It was a great way to end the day and the week. :)

3.  Minestrone Soup--Last week my mom sent me a crock pot recipe for minestrone soup.  This week I got around to making it, and it was delicious!  Although the sun is making more frequent appearances in Pinedale, there is still plenty of snow on the ground (see the picture below).  Soup was the perfect evening meal!

4.  Let's Go Fly a Kite--Speaking of the increasing sunshine, Darren and I took the opportunity to get outside on one of his days off this week.  Feeling the sun on my face for what felt like the first time in months was HEAVENLY.  Before we were married, Darren bought a big kite board to use at the ocean or lake.  Although we can't take it to the lake quite yet, he did want to open the kite in the backyard and see if he could catch a little wind.  The wind ended up not being strong enough, but being outside with him and the kite board made me SO excited for summer and more sun!

5.  Planning Parents' Trip--This week I spent some time on the phone with my parents discussing a visit from them in mid-April.  I received some e-mails from my dad a few days later with their flight/hotel reservations.  It's really happening!  I can't wait!!

6.  Spring Gift--We received a surprise gift from my parents this week with some spring goodies, including a beautiful platter with pictures of oranges and orange blossoms and a citrus loaf pan.  This little gift made me so happy!  About this time of year in Redlands, where I grew up, the orange blossoms started blooming and filling the area with their delicious scent.  The smell of orange blossoms will always remind me of spring.  Between the extra sun and this gift, my need for a little spring pick-me-up was definitely met this week!

7.  Frozen Yogurt Shop--I was driving down our main street this week when I noticed a new sign being hung outside of a previously empty store.  Upon further inspection, I found out that a new frozen yogurt shop (Pinedale's first) is opening up soon.  Yippee!!

8.  "Grit with Chip"--I had a great book talk with my mom on Saturday.  We are reading Amy Chua's Triple Package and talked about her explanation of finding success when "grit" (or drive and determination) is combined with "chip" (having, in a sense, a chip on your shoulder or the need to prove yourself).  This phrase resonated with both of us, and we could each think of a time when we felt a drive to accomplish something with a bit of an "I'll show them" attitude.  It was a fun talk and made this phrase something that I'll remember.

9.  Prank Videos--Darren and I spent a little too much time watching some prank videos on youtube one evening this week.  I had followed one from a link on Facebook, and once I started watching I was hooked and began searching for more.  I had to bring Darren in on the fun.  I was laughing so hard at some of the pranks pulled on innocent bystanders, I almost felt guilty.  Some included a fake spider, which made me laugh the hardest ... probably because I am known to giggle uncontrollably when I'm nervous/watching something scary (PSA:  I am not a fun person with whom to watch scary movies).  Laughing that hard with Darren by my side made my night.

10.  ENGAGEMENT--We found out Saturday night that Darren's brother, Steven, got engaged to his sweet girlfriend, Brittany!  We are SO excited for them!!  Welcome to the family, Brit!  They have yet to set a date, but we are looking forward to a wedding this summer. :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Happy Now--March 12

Darren and I had the chance to take a long weekend in Pocatello and Salt Lake this past weekend, hence the late post.  Darren got some quality family time while I enjoyed a wonderful weekend with these dear friends:

Katie, Melissa (Many), and me at Art City Trolley

I'm going to focus my Happy Now this week on the top ten moments from my roommate reunion (we missed you, Tessa!):

1.  High School Tour--Since Katie had Friday off from school, I met up with her as soon as I arrived in Salt Lake.  As soon as Melissa was done with teaching at one, Katie and I drove to meet her at her classroom (I think we arrived about one second after one o'clock).  We were so excited to start our weekend together!  Melissa kicked off the weekend by giving us a tour of the new high school where she teaches in Draper.  Katie and I were so impressed with the campus and all of the resources available to the students.  It was beautiful!  A few students stopped by Melissa's classroom after the tour, and it was easy to tell that she is loved and respected as a teacher.  It was so fun to see Many in her element!

2.  Community Benefit Concert--Speaking of seeing my friends in their element, we had the opportunity to watch Katie perform at a Community Benefit Concert hosted by her students Friday night.  She was amazing!  Like Many, it was so obvious how much Katie's students adore her.  And Many, who saw the music for this number for the first time at the concert, accompanied Katie on the piano.  I have such talented friends!!


3.  Magelby's--Magelby's restaurant was a favorite when Katie, Melissa, Tessa, and I were roommates together.  It was, therefore, a must during our weekend together!

4.  PEI Videos--Katie's parents were kind enough to let us stay all weekend at their beautiful condo in Provo.  Before going to bed Friday night, Katie, Melissa, and I decided to pull out some old videos from the Prince Edward Island trip we had taken with Tessa when we were roommates in 2009.  The videos were hilarious to watch (probably in part because we were all so tired) and I was definitely crying from laughter by the end.  I love the fun memories I have with these friends!

5.  Magelby's Part II--Why not hit Magelby's twice in one weekend?  We went to Magelby's Fresh for its amazing french toast Saturday morning!

6.  Nails--Many's birthday was Monday, March 10, and we wanted to celebrate while we were together on Saturday.  We decided to kick off birthday celebrations in style by getting our nails done. We discovered a great new salon in Provo and all chose bright spring colors to go with the beautiful weather we were having!

7.  Birthday Dinner--Many chose to have a birthday dinner with friends at the Art City Trolley in Springville Saturday night.  Besides the delicious food, it was so fun to be back in the area where Darren and I had our first home together.  It brought back some wonderful memories.

Part of the birthday dinner crew.
8.  Birthday Games--After dinner, we all returned to Katie's condo to play games.  I had a great time getting to know some of Many's friends better and really enjoyed the games they brought!  My favorite of the night ... Spot It!

9.  Surprise Gift--Darren visited SLC with his family Saturday and stayed with his cousin into Sunday so that he could be there to drive home with me.  When I met up with him on Sunday, he presented me with a small gift from a store he had visited with his family the day before.  I'm grateful for his characteristic thoughtfulness.

10.  Conversations--Before Darren and I left on Sunday, Katie invited Melissa, Darren, and I over for lunch after church.  Darren was then kind enough to leave us a couple more hours together for some last minute "girl talk."  Having such wonderful friends with whom I can share everything is balm for the soul.

Overall, it was a perfect weekend.  I'm so grateful for wonderful friends like these in my life.  Can't wait for next time!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Happy Now--March 2

Here are the Happy Now for this week:

1.  Downton Finale--"I'm never watching this show again" are words that have crossed my lips more than once since I've started watching Downton Abbey.  With every new episode, however, I have always come crawling back.  There is something I love about the setting, the costumes, and (for the most part) the characters.  The seasons always go by so quickly, and I was surprised to find the season finale was upon us already last week.  As I realized this, I braced myself for some kind of tragedy.  My mind immediately went to which character(s) could possibly be killed off in this episode and how.  The fact that the finale was relatively tame and ended with two characters happily holding hands was a breath of fresh air.  It was as if Julian Fellowes was tipping his hat to us and saying, "Well, ladies and gents, I've certainly put you through the ringer as of late.  Thanks for sticking around.  I'll give you a break."  I'm sure glad he did since, let's face it, I'll be watching again next January.

2.  5th Grade Class--This past week was a busy subbing week with opportunities to be in all three schools.  This was the first week, however, in which I was asked to sub in a 5th grade class.  Subbing in the jr. high and high school (and even different elementary grades) has certainly put me outside of my comfort zone at times.  It was so nice to be back in such a familiar setting, feeling really comfortable with the curriculum, and knowing what I can expect of the students.  It brought back some wonderful memories!

3.  Classroom Poster--I saw this poster in a jr. high classroom this week.  Heaven bless this teacher.  I can certainly empathize with the sentiment. ;)

4.  Project Life--For Christmas I received a gift card to start scrapbooking with Project Life materials.    Since I didn't start blogging until several months after Darren and I were married, I wanted to find an easy way to scrapbook the beginning of our life together.  I picked out my binder and kits a few weeks ago, but this week I received some pictures I had ordered.  It has been so fun to get started!  I'm realizing how few pictures I have from when Darren and I were dating, but it has been fun to go through the pictures I do have and recall dates and times and wonderful memories.  It has also motivated me to take more pictures (and learn how to use a better quality camera) of our life together now.  Project Life makes the scrapbooking process so simple, but still allows you to be creative and journal alongside the pictures.  I'm loving it.

The journaling still needs to be done, but I've enjoyed picking out and arranging some pictures!

5.  Birthday Month--We are officially in the birthday month of both Darren and my mom (as well as a couple of close friends).  It has been fun to start getting gift ideas and planning festivities.  I'm so grateful for these wonderful people in my life!

6.  New Glasses--That's right.  After almost ten years of contact- and glasses-free eyes thanks to laser eye surgery, I began to notice some blurriness.  I recently had an appointment in Jackson where it was determined I would benefit from the occasional use of glasses.  So, I bit the bullet and am now a (somewhat) proud owner of a new pair.  I tried to find the "coolest" pair I could, but I'm still not convinced that I can pull them off in public (hence no picture).  It is certainly nice to have them, though!

7.  New Book Talk Book--It was time for my mom and I to choose a new book talk book this week.  My mom suggested the new Amy Chua book, The Triple Package.  It is a book about three traits that Chua claims has influenced the success of certain cultural groups in America.  I read an article about the book recently in the Deseret News and agreed it sounded interesting.  It should be an intriguing read!

8.  One Summer--Who else loves the feeling that comes with finishing a book and then getting to choose which book to pick up next?  This week I finished Bill Bryson's One Summer.  I was fascinated by all of the events that took place over the span of just a few months in the summer of 1927.  What an amazing time!  While I felt that Bryson's portrayal of some historical figures weren't always fair, I loved the opportunity to learn more about our country's history.

9.  Home--One of the books I was excited to start this week was Home by Julie Andrews.  Oh, my gosh, I am LOVING this book.  I decided to listen to the audiobook since Julie Andrews reads it herself.  I love her voice and the classy way in which she writes.  She writes about the significance of the word "home" and the love of nature she received from her father.  I can certainly identify with her love of English landscapes.  It makes me reflect on the feelings I want associated with the home I'm helping to create and so excited for the snow to melt and the green grass and flowing rivers to return here.

10.  November 27--I received a text from my dad yesterday that said he had a fun tidbit to share with me.  He had been going through some old journals and realized that he and my mom had discovered they were pregnant with me on November 27, 1982.  It was exactly 28 years later, on November 27, 2010 at the age of 27, that Darren and I got married.  Twenty-seven must be my lucky number.  I love little things like that!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Happy Now--Feb. 23

Here are the Happy Now for this week:

1.  "Mona Lisa"--Since February is the month of love, I thought I'd start off sharing a love song that has provided many a happy moment for me this week (and all month, really)-- Brad Paisley's "Mona Lisa."  I think the whole premise of the song is just so darn cute, and the mix of sweetness and humor in the lyrics is so characteristic of Brad Paisley's songs.  My favorite lines come toward the end when he says, "I could take your hand, we could walk in the Louvre/ I could show 'em real beauty, let 'em get a load of you."  Très gentil, n'est-ce pas? If you haven't heard it yet, enjoy!

2.  Ballet West II--On Wednesday night, the Pinedale Fine Arts Council hosted a Ballet West II performance.  Darren, unfortunately, had to work late that night, so I went solo.  I ended up running into a woman from my ward, however, and got to sit with her.  It was so fun to dress up a little and spend the evening "at the ballet."  I loved seeing so many mothers and daughters in the audience.  It reminded me of dressing up and attending ballets with my mom when I was young.  I love the PFAC for bringing some great cultural events to our little town.  The dancers did a wonderful job.  It was a beautiful night!

3.  Program Shout-Out--It was fun to see our names mentioned in the Ballet West program as "friends" of the PFAC.  I have had the chance to work for the PFAC a little since moving here and look forward to future opportunities.  So glad we're friends. ;)

4.  Cookies 'n Cream Cupcakes--My food board on Pinterest is filled with delicious-looking recipes that I have never tried.  This week was a slow subbing week, so I decided to try my hand at a couple of them.  One of Darren's Home Teachees had a birthday this week, so I told him I would make cupcakes.  I chose these cookie 'n cream cupcakes from my Pinterest board and got together with Kristal to make them.  We ended up not making the filling for the cupcakes since the frosting recipe made a TON of (very sweet) frosting, and we didn't want to over do it.  It was my first time making frosting from scratch, though, which was pretty exciting.  They were very yummy!

This picture is from Pinterest since I forgot to take a picture of ours.  Recipe here
5.  No Bake Energy Bites--My second recipe for the week were these No Bake Energy Bites.  I did these on my own, so I was happy to have a few more songs to add to my Broadway playlist thanks to some great suggestions from Katie last week.  Thank you!  These were actually really easy.  I definitely recommend them!  P.S.  I love how two of the cookbooks you can see in this picture demonstrate a certain theme in my kitchen: one for "new cooks" and the other entitled "Meals Made Easy."  
Recipe here
6.  Quilting Motivation--I have had to miss several quilting classes lately due to subbing, which has put me three or four squares behind the rest of the class.  When I attended class this week a couple of the women had completely finished their quilts and came to show them.  They looked great!  Seeing the finished products definitely motivated me to keep working away on my little squares.  I can't wait to finish mine and see how it turns out!

7.  Spring Decor--Darren and I have both decided that winter here has been lovely, but we're ready for spring.  I'm afraid we still have a few months to wait for warmer weather, but that hasn't stopped me from bringing out some spring-y items for the bathroom.  Seashells, sand, and bird-themed soaps and jars make even chilly days feel a little warmer. :)

8.  Cadbury Creme Eggs--With approaching spring comes the arrival of one of my all-time favorite candies: Cadbury Creme Eggs.  Darren doesn't seem to appreciate them the way that I do, which is fine by me.  He snuck some into our grocery cart earlier this week for me and it has been a real exercise is self-control to portion them out!

9.  Activity Days--Last week I mentioned how fun it was for me to have a little guy in my primary class become more active and animated.  This week I was grateful for the opposite with my sweet girls in Activity Days.  Activity Days is scheduled for right after school on two Wednesdays each month.  Usually these 8 and 9 year old girls come bounding off the bus full of giggles and stories from their day.  They all seem like good friends and are wonderful girls, but maintaining order during activities in a non-classroom setting after a long day of school is sometimes a challenge.  This week I asked the bishop of my ward to come talk to the girls about some things related to tithing.  They sat and listened to his presentation so respectfully, I was touched (and grateful).  Love them!

10.  Backyard Moose--One of my favorite things about living in Pinedale has been the frequent sightings of wildlife.  I should say, "the frequent sightings of wildlife during daylight hours" since hitting something while I'm driving in the dark fills me with trepidation every time I'm out at night.  For some reason, the animal I get the most excited about seeing is the moose.  I had never seen one before moving here, and I think they're awesome!  They're HUGE! The amount of snow we have been getting lately has started pushing more animals down out of the hills and into town.  After church today, Darren glanced out of our window and noticed two moose lying down, cooling their heels in the snow in our backyard.  I loved it!  I have no idea why I didn't take a picture.  I will next time!

Hope you had a great week!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Happy Now--Feb. 16

I know that we are more than half way through February, and it is pretty late to be making New Year's Resolutions, but I have made a new one.  Looking back through old blog posts this week, I realized how much I enjoyed doing my weekly Happy Now posts (click here for the history on how these posts got started) and how good they were for me.  The posts encouraged me to look for the simple joys in my life each week and made me better appreciate the blessings that otherwise would have gone unnoticed (or at least undocumented).  After a brief attempt at a revival in 2012, the posts slowly petered out.  This time I am committed!  This Happy Now post will cover the past two weeks in February, but then I plan on making weekly posts.

1.  Sugar Cookies--After a rather disastrous first attempt at making sugar cookies in high altitude earlier this month, I called a good friend, Kristal, to get her advice on sugar cookie recipes.  She was kind enough to invite me over and share her secret family recipe for sugar cookies that turn out soft and fluffy, even in Pinedale!  The cookies we made together turned out perfectly.  I returned home with recipe-in-hand and a resolve to make a successful batch on my own.  Success!  Darren and I were quite pleased.

Sugar cookies ready to go in the oven
2.  Baking with Broadway--Let's start with a semi-well known fact about Kate: cooking isn't a strength of which I can boast.  Another lesser-known fact: out of necessity, cooking and baking have become much more frequent occurrences in the Myler household since moving to Pinedale.  New information: broadway playlists make the above mentioned fact much more enjoyable and less stressful for this girl.  It all started several months ago when I decided to put on a genius playlist of broadway songs while preparing dinner.  I started singing along and, before I knew it, dinner was about done.  Though still strictly recipe-bound, I hadn't panicked once about how the meal was turning out.  I even started a load of dishes just to stay in the kitchen and keep the playlist going.  This was a real breakthrough.  Since then, I play broadway soundtracks almost any time I find myself alone in the kitchen.  One of the most recent experiences was when making the sugar cookies mentioned in #1 above.  I can honestly say I look forward to baking now.  Cooking is slowly growing on me, too.  ;)

3.  Favorite Cookie Cutter--One more about sugar cookies and then I'll stop.  I just need to give a shoutout to whoever invented this cookie cutter.  True genius, am I right?

4.  Long-Term Sub Possibility--Since moving to Pinedale and receiving my Wyoming subbing license, I have enjoyed the opportunity to have new teaching experiences in elementary, jr. high, and high school classes.  Earlier this month, I received a call from the high school principal wondering if I could be a long-term sub for a social studies teacher going on maternity leave for the last month of school.  Darren and I have talked about my teaching full-time as a secondary teacher at some point if I ever wanted to try something other than elementary school.  And loving history as I do, I thought being a high school social studies teacher would be right up my alley.  So, to receive this call and the opportunity to try my hand at something I was considering doing full-time was really exciting for me.  Last week, I had the chance to sub for this teacher and really enjoyed the subjects and the students (mostly juniors and seniors).  I'm excited!

5.  Cross Country Skiing--Darren and I took advantage of the fresh snow two Saturdays ago and decided to go cross country skiing.  It had been several years since I had been, and it was Darren's first time.  He was a natural!  We had a great time.

6.  Persephone's Bakery--Back in September while my parents were visiting, we took a trip to Jackson and discovered Persephone's Bakery.  Not only are the sandwiches great and the cookies amazing, but the whole atmosphere of the little bakery is so charming.  Darren had last Tuesday off so we decided to go to Jackson and celebrate our Valentine's a little early.  We decided to have lunch at Persephone's and, once again, it didn't disappoint.  I wanted to capture the feel of the bakery in a picture, but found I was a little embarrassed to be taking pictures, so I just snapped a quick one of our table.  If you're ever in the area, though, I recommend grabbing lunch, or just a cookie and hot chocolate, at Persephone's.

7.  Valentine from Darren--One thing that has always impressed me about Darren is how thoughtful he is when it comes to giving gifts.  I tend to be the type to ask people what they want and then get them exactly that.  No surprises.  Darren, however, is sneaky, and that is part of what makes his gifts so great.  He remembers things I mention once that I would like and then buys them without me knowing.  Or he comes up with creative gift ideas on his own that are perfectly suited for the recipient (like the creative writing course he gave me two Christmases ago).  For Valentine's Day this year he surprised me with a beautiful soap dish and bird-shaped soaps for our bathroom that I had previously seen in a store in Jackson and loved.  It was perfect.  Love him.

8.  CTR4 Class--A few weeks ago I received a calling to teach two little girls and two little boys in my ward's CTR4 class on Sundays.  These kids are so cute.  Today in church, one usually pretty serious little guy was all giggles.  He was so full of hugs and smiles it made my heart melt.  The lesson today was on the birth of Christ.  As the lesson suggested, I turned off the lights in the classroom, had the kids close their eyes, and asked them to imagine that they were shepherds in the field the night Christ was born.  I asked them to imagine the stars in the sky, the grass beneath them, and the sheep around them.  Just as I was reaching the story's climax when the angel appears to announce the Savior's birth, this little guy jumped up (with his eyes still closed) and started walking around the other students acting something out.  I couldn't tell what he was doing, so I asked.  He told me that he was worried about his sheep and was putting up a fence to keep them safe.  The cuteness about killed me.  Since his eyes were closed through the entire episode, I decided it was best for all involved if I directed him back to his seat, but it sure made my day.

9.  Book Talk with Dad--Several posts ago I mentioned that I have weekly "book talks" with each of my parents.  I have loved our conversations.  My Dad and I have moved onto the book Literary Genius by Joseph Epstein.  The book gives a brief biography of 25 men and women who have created significant works of literature in English and an attempt to capture each person's genius.  Yesterday, Dad and I discussed the chapter on William Wordsworth.  It was one of my favorite conversations we've had since starting these book talks.  It may have been because we both love Wordsworth's poetry, or the insights my Dad shared, or the memories it brought back from a study abroad trip to the Lake District, but something about our discussion left me feeling so light-hearted and happy.  It was the highlight of my day.

10.  Gratitude Jar--Along with deciding to start up Happy Now posts again this week, I finally got around to putting together a little Gratitude Jar for me and Darren.  I found the idea on Pinterest, and am excited to read through the little tender mercies we have written about over the year on December 31, 2014.  The fact that "Count Your Blessings" was the opening hymn in Sacrament meeting today doesn't seem like a coincidence.  I am getting the message loud and clear that I need to start making gratitude more of a focus in my life.  I'm excited to get started!

Not very fancy, but this 2014 Gratitude Jar should do the job.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

13 Highlights from 2013

Happy New Year!  2013 was a year of growth, changes, and adventures ... and we made sure to have a little fun, too. ;) Although this post is several days late, I wanted to take the chance to reflect on 13 highlights from 2013.

1.  Celebrating Papa John's 90th--My Mom's dad, Papa John (not his formal name ;), turned 90 on January 7, 2013.  Darren and I were able to join other family members to celebrate that special day with him.  I'm so glad we made it!  We lost Papa John on December 1, 2013, which made this last opportunity I had to spend with him very special and a real highlight.  There is so much I admired about Papa John, including his sense of humor, kindness, organization, and his way with words (fitting since he spent his career as a journalist and author).  I sure will miss him!
Papa John, Chris, Me, Dustin, Nick, Gabe, Darren

2.  Growing as a teacher--In 2013, I finished my fourth year as a fifth grade teacher.  While I anticipated that each passing year in fifth grade would become easier and feel more routine, a new school and a few very challenging students made last year unique.  I learned more about myself as a classroom teacher and how to handle difficult situations in the classroom last year than I probably did in all the three previous years combined.  I grew a lot, and I now have several more tools in my teacher tool belt.  Looking back on that year, I feel that in many ways it has been my most rewarding as a teacher.  In Pinedale in 2013, I began substitute teaching.  For a while, I only received calls to sub in the Pinedale Middle School, which also brought new teaching experiences.  Most recently, I subbed in a middle school Chinese class--talk about stepping outside of my comfort zone!  I am happy to report, however, that I now know how to say hello, goodbye, hamburger, and pizza in Mandarin. ;)

3.  Reunions with friends--Any opportunity I have to visit with old college friends and roommates is always a highlight.  In 2013, I had the chance to reunite with some of my closest on the east coast and in Utah.  I am so grateful for friends like these ladies in my life!

Getting to know the two cuties below was definitely a highlight!

No one ever said we don't know how to pamper ourselves. ;)
4.  Exploring Arizona--I am so glad that we had the chance to live in AZ, if only for a year.  It is a beautiful state, and we enjoyed the chance to get to know it in 2013!
Native American ruins near Flagstaff 
Grand Canyon
Famous Root Beer Float at Joe's Barbecue in Gilbert
39 Steps at the Hale Centre Theater thanks to a Christmas gift from Chris
5.  Family Reunions--2013 was filled with family reunions.  Darren and I had the opportunity to attend the Hubbard, Myler, Sonne, and Wintch reunions.  Growing up, family reunions were like holidays that I anticipated with growing excitement ... and I still do!

The Hubbard Clan: Nick, Gabe, Tad, Catrine, Dad, Mom, Me, Darren, Elizabeth, Jim, Sue, Ron
Visiting the Myler Farm in Idaho
Meeting Hudson Hyde at the Sonne Reunion 
How cute is the little guy in the lower left?  He loved it up there!

6.  Church Callings--I am grateful for the opportunity I've had to work with the kids in our wards in 2013.  In Gilbert, I had the chance to return to the Young Women Program and feel of the strength and testimony of those girls.  In Pinedale, I am excited for the opportunity to work with fifteen 8-9 year old girls in Activity Days.  Getting to know the youth of the Church sure makes one optimistic for the future!

7. Turning 30--I turned the big 3-0 in 2013.  It happened in the middle of a busy summer and our preparations to move to Pinedale, but we still made sure to celebrate.  I wasn't sure how I would feel when the day actually came, but I can say now that I have a great feeling about this new decade in my life.  Bring it on 30s!

My parents sent flowers to our Pinedale hotel.

Birthday gondola ride and steak dinner in Jackson :)
8.  Moving to Pinedale--I have written several recent posts on our experiences moving and adjusting to life in Pinedale, so I will keep this short.  While there were/are challenges to working and living here, we are both so happy to be living in Pinedale at this time in our lives.  The future may hold further changes, but we are soaking up all of the beautiful countryside, outdoor activities, warm friendships (if not weather), and simple life as we can while we have the chance to live here!

Leaving Arizona--The 950 miles we drove in this baby is a trip I will not soon forget!
Driving down our new street.
Moving into our second (!) Pinedale apartment
It's easy to see why they call this "Big Sky" country!

9.  Parents Visiting in Pinedale--When my parents visited Pinedale in September, Darren and I had a great time showing them around!  There is something about having parents visit a new place that immediately makes it feel more like home.

10.  New Friends--Since I can't have my parents close in Pinedale all of the time, I am so grateful for the new friends that we have been able to make here.  Dinners, game nights, bonfires, movie days/nights, and trips to the lakes have all been made possible by some young families that have befriended us.  These new friends have made the transition to Pinedale so much more fun and comfortable.  I know we will continue to be friends for a long time!

11.  Old/New Hobbies--In March of 2013, I had the chance to attend a one-day writing class at Stanford thanks to a Christmas gift from Darren.  Writing is a hobby/talent I have wanted to develop for years.  The opportunity to attend this class was a highlight that I will always remember.  Since moving to Pinedale, I have started a new hobby that has also interested me for a while ... quilting!   There is something so neat, I think, about having handmade quilts to snuggle up in or put at the end of a bed.  While my quilt teacher takes me through every step, and I'm pretty sure I couldn't recreate a single square on my own, I have loved the process every Saturday.  I can't wait to see what it looks like when it all comes together!

Ready for the writing class

A few quilt squares

12.  Anniversary Trip to NYC--In celebration of our 3rd wedding anniversary and to cross another item off of our bucket list, Darren and I traveled to NYC at the end of November/beginning of December last year.  I have written a recent post about this trip, as well, so suffice it to say we had a great time!  One of the best moments for me may have been when we were getting on the plane to fly home and Darren leaned over and said, "So, where are we traveling to next?"  I'm so glad he has been bitten by the travel bug, since I have been infected for years. ;)

13.  CA Christmas--No Christmas season would be complete without the opportunity to visit family.  Darren and I celebrated Christmas day in Pinedale, and then were able to leave for CA on the 26th.  My family was kind enough to hold off on our Christmas traditions until we arrived.  We celebrated our Sonne Christmas on the 27th, and it was wonderful.  We loved being able to visit with family and warm up in the sunny 75 degree weather!
CA Christmas (I may have gotten a little carried away with a collage app I recently discovered ;)
Writing this post has reminded me how blessed I am to have had the experiences, family, and friends that have filled 2013.  I am looking forward to the adventures to come in 2014!
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