Sunday, December 11, 2011

Happy Now-Dec. 11

1. December 1st Tradition:  I'm starting off my Happy Now 10 this week with a happy moment that actually belonged in last week's post.  As I was getting into bed after writing my post last week, I realized that I had left out one of the happiest moments of the week.  I couldn't just leave it out, so I'm leading off with it tonight.  Ever since I can remember, my family has had a holiday tradition of celebrating Dec. 1st in order to kick off the Christmas season.  Growing up, we would have a nice dinner and my brother and I would receive Christmas pajamas and an advent calendar.  While Darren and I couldn't be gathered around the table with my family this December 1st, we were still able to celebrate thanks to my parents who sent us pajamas in the mail and e-mailed us a beautiful Jacquie Lawson London Advent calendar for our computer.  I love this tradition and am so glad that we have been able to keep it up despite the distance that separates our family members.

2.  Darren's help with trees: I mentioned last week that I was making a set of paper trees for a decoration exchange I had been invited to attend.  The trees ended up taking much longer than I expected, but I was fortunate enough to have Darren to help cut circles and come up with creative solutions.  When the trees were too top heavy to stand up in the thread spools as the directions said they would, I was about ready to throw in the towel.  Darren saved the day (and the trees), however, by suggesting we glue the spools to an extra square of green card stock and then anchor the trees with some extra Christmas saltwater taffy we had.  Here's how they turned out:

3.  Decoration Exchange:  Sara did an amazing job of organizing the decoration exchange and preparing a lovely setting and delicious food in her apartment for the event yesterday.  As much work as I had put into my decorations, I still felt like they looked like popsicle stick ornaments compared to the other crafts that had been prepared.  I would not blame the other girls for depositing my paper trees in the nearest trash receptacle, but I am grateful for the crafts I got from them that I can, and currently do, use.  Here is what I received:

From left to right: felt Christmas tree wreath, snowflake ornament, "Silent Night" musical note ornament, Santa belt ornament, homemade carmel apple dip and an apple, "Let It Snow" painted mug, flower coat pin

Our "family room" with our new wreath and tree ornaments

I wore the flower pin on my coat to church today.
4.  Christmas Pillowcases:  Darren and I have been meaning to put these festive pillowcases on our pillows since we returned home from Thanksgiving.  This week we finally added them!  We received the pillowcases for our wedding last year and I love how it brings a little Christmas into our bedroom.

5.  Dinner with Whitney and Kelly:  My parents knew Whitney's parents before we were born.  Whitney and I have grown up together and then moved to Utah together as she started college at the University of Utah and I went to BYU.  She has been a great friend.  Darren, my mom, and I were able to attend her wedding to Kelly in Salt Lake last August.  Last night we got together with the Whites for dinner and had a great time catching up with these two.  I'm so glad to know that this friendship will continue to grow as we meet together as couples and future families.

6.  Warm(ish) Winter Weather:  A few weeks ago I mentioned being grateful for a thin layer of snow outside.  Now, any sunny, relatively warm day can make me immediately smile.  Today it was 45 degrees outside when we left for church.  That's not exactly balmy, but it's definitely warmer than it has been.  Did I mention that we will be spending our Christmas holiday in CA where it stays in the 60s during the winter?  Can't wait!

7.  Christmas shopping:  I LOVE Christmas shopping.  I love trying to find the right gift for loved ones and anticipating their reaction on Christmas morning.  Yesterday, Darren and I had a fun time walking around the mall and finding little gifts for some family members.

8.  Visiting Barnes and Noble:  Darren and I go into the Orem Barnes and Noble any time we are in the area.  We rarely buy anything, but there's just something about bookstores that we both love.  Maybe it's the smell of the books or being surrounded by other people (kids and adults) who find joy in reading.  We have even talked about how fun it would be to own our own bookstore a la The Shop Around the Corner from "You've Got Mail."  I may even have a name picked out for our little bookstore and a sketch with what the inside would look like. :)

9.  Chats with Parents:  I've had some great chats with my parents over the phone recently.  I feel like I've hit the jackpot when I can have both of my parents on the line at the same time.  We've shared quite a few laughs and have had some inspiring talks about the future this week.  Thank you, Mr. Graham Bell!

10.  Family History:  This week, Darren created an account on and was able to trace part of his lineage back to the 1300s.  So cool!  I wanted to have a share in the fun so I jumped on and started doing some research on my family tree.  I only read names and dates, but I immediately started to wonder about the personalities and lives associated with those names.  Genealogy is such an exciting work, and I am looking forward to learning more about my heritage on-line and through conversations with family members.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happy Now-Dec. 4

Here are my Happy Now 10 from this week:

1. Wedding Album Proofs--On Monday we received the first proof of our wedding album, which we were able to approve later this week.  We should have our copy shortly after Christmas.  Yippee!

2.  Awesome Article--I read THIS article shared by a friend on Facebook.  I could completely identify with falling into the trap of talking to little girls about the societal "girly" things (clothes, hair, etc.).  I loved this article for encouraging us to think about a girl's mind and less about her appearance and the message we send by the topic of conversation we choose.

3.  Compliment from a Parent--Every now and then, a parent will say something kind to me as their student's teacher.  This week I had a parent of one of my students from last year pay me a compliment as a teacher.  I will never get over how much that kind of feedback means to me.

4.  Crafty Moment #2--As you may recall, crafty moment #1 came last week after about a 15-year hiatus when I sewed 4 pieces of fabric together.  Well, since then, I have been on a crafting roll.  On Thursday, I got together with some other women in our Relief Society to make some projects as gifts or for our own home decor.  I made this sign with lines from Primary Songs, which I think will be fun in a future little boy's room.  The project only required sanding, painting, and applying a big sticker, but that still left a large margin of error (for me) and I was pretty happy with how it turned out. :)

5.  Crafty Moment #3--I was invited by a friend to participate in a Christmas decoration exchange next weekend.  After scouring the "easy Christmas crafts" websites, I found a guide for making some cute paper Christmas trees. I started on the craft this week and have had a lot of fun.  Stay tuned for some finished products next week.

6.  Guest Speaker--This week I finished teaching the Amelia Earhart unit to my Reading Class.  I found out about an awesome opportunity to have a female pilot from the local aviation program at UVU come speak to my class about Earhart's contributions to aviation and about her own experiences as a pilot and a woman.  My students were really excited to hear her present and to ask her their questions.  Our guest speaker was raised to superhero status, however, when she handed out a poster, t-shirt, and model airplane from UVU for each student.  It was a complete surprise to me and, while I could appreciate the marketing motives behind such a generous gift, I was so excited for my students and appreciative of this woman who brought so much excitement into my classroom.  About half of my class is now considering a future career in aviation. :)

7.  New babies--Yesterday, Darren and I had the opportunity to visit a young couple in our ward who had their first son this week.  He is absolutely adorable and I am so happy for Kareena and Chris.  What a sweet thing to have a newborn baby around Christmas time.  It reminds me of the excitement we had about this time last year when little Parker Hyde joined our extended family.  Such happy times!

8.  Homemade Bread and Jam--We were given a gift of homemade bread and jam this week.  Few things taste and smell as good as homemade bread.  Unfortunately, Darren agrees.  We have tried making the little loaf last as long as possible between the two of us.  It is almost gone but, boy oh boy, have we enjoyed it!

9.  Sunday Dinners at Mary's--My Dad's cousin, Mary Wintch, lives in Springville and has been kind enough to host me and many others over the past several years for Sunday dinners.  Darren and I have been lucky enough to have frequent dinners with her recently, and I am grateful for the time and effort she puts into hosting us.  We ate with her again tonight and she made a family favorite--a Danish recipe for Frikadellers.

10. First Presidency's Christmas Devotional--After eating dinner with Mary, she served us some ice cream and sat us down on her couch to watch the annual First Presidency's Christmas Devotional.  I love gathering on the first Sunday of December every year to hear Christmas messages from the leaders of my Church and to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing the beautiful and familiar Christmas Carols.  It is a wonderful way to kick off the Christmas season and is a great reminder of the true reason behind this festive time.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Now-Nov. 27th (1st Anniversary!)

This has been such a fun week!  I had my Happy Now 10 for last week all written out in my journal, but time got away from me before I could make the post.  I am excited to pick up with this week, however, and share some of the very happy moments we've had over the past seven days.

1. The Wiz--On Monday, Darren and I had the opportunity to see a production of The Wiz at Highland High School in Salt Lake.  Katie, who started teaching choir at Highland this year, was the musical director of the show.  She got us front row seats next to her parents, sister, and Krista.  They were such great seats and we had a lot of fun watching this creative adaptation of The Wizard of Oz.  The students were wonderful, and Katie had obviously used a lot of her time and talent to put on such a fantastic show.  Here is a picture of me with Krista and Katie:

2.  1st Anniversary Part I--After I finished teaching on Tuesday, Darren and I drove up to Park City (where we had spent our honeymoon the year before).  Thanks to the generous anniversary gifts we received from both sets of parents, we were able to have dinner and spend the night there before heading up to Idaho for Thanksgiving.  I had started having a lot of wedding deja-vu the week before, and spending time in a wintery Park City just added to those wonderful wedding memories.

On Main Street in Park City--November 2011
3.  Tree Hunt--When we arrived in Idaho on Wednesday, Darren and I were invited to go find a Christmas tree with Angie, Scott, and their two beautiful girls, Annalyse and Natalie.  This was unlike any tree-buying experience I had had, though.  Scott and Angie bought a tree-cutting permit and went into the woods near their home to cut down their own tree.  We joked about feeling like the Griswalds from "Christmas Vacation", but in reality it was so beautiful and easy!  If Darren and I ever live by a wooded area we will definitely need to copy this tradition!

The whole crew (minus Angie who was taking the picture) before heading out to look for a tree: Annalyse, Darren, Me, Scott, Natalie

The tree has been found and is (apparently) about to be conquered.

4.  Thanksgiving Holiday--I am so grateful for an entire holiday dedicated to remembering the things for which we are grateful.  We even get an amazing feast to eat while we reflect on our blessings.  Angie and Scott made a wonderful turkey dinner complete with mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, salad, corn, rolls, and jello pudding.

5.  Black Friday--I had my first Black Friday shopping experience this year.  While I'm not sure that I'll be going out again at midnight next year, it was pretty exciting to see the deals that were available.

6.  Cute Nieces--I have really enjoyed becoming "Aunt Kate" over the past year.  I was sorry that Cindy and Brent's family couldn't join us for the holiday, but I had a lot of fun spending time with Annalyse and Natalie this week.  They are such polite, talented girls.  Coming home from dinner last night, Darren and I were riding in the back seat with Natalie.  I decided to play a game with Natalie that we have played before: I take out my iPhone camera, give her an emotion, and then snap her interpretation of that emotion.  I thought that I would share a few photos of this cutie:

The "stare down" look 
"It's Christmas morning and you just got the present you've always wanted."

"You've just seen Uncle Darren after not seeing him for a really long time."


"I'm hungry!"
7.  Anniversary Breakfast--Mr. and Mrs. Myler were kind enough to fix the family a pancake, eggs, and bacon breakfast yesterday morning and today.  When we arrived for breakfast this morning, we were greeted by an anniversary sign and handmade anniversary purse from Natalie.

Breakfast table with sign

Close-up of sign

Anniversary purse :)
8.  Craft time--I don't consider myself a crafty person.  I remember taking a sewing class in Jr. High, but I haven't touched a sewing machine since then.  This weekend, however, Angie helped me start a quilt for which I measured and tore fabric squares and sewed four squares together.  Four whole squares!  Thanks for the opportunity to be crafty, Angie!

9.  Christmas Music and Decorations--Fortunately, Darren and I agree on not listening to Christmas music nor decorating for Christmas until after Thanksgiving.  Helping the Cornelison's start decorating their home for Christmas, however, really made me excited to bring out the few decorations Darren and I have.  We listened to Christmas music the entire way home from Idaho and, as soon as we had unpacked, we got out our decorations and got to work.  Here's what we did:

The spoons on the far left and the table runner below came from  the Quarinos (ma famille francaise) last year for our wedding.

10.  1st ANNIVERSARY-Part II--It is hard to believe that an entire year has passed since I became Mrs. Kate Myler.  When I look back on this past year, all I can feel is gratitude for the man I have married and the life that we have.  It is not perfect, but it is one that we are making together and in which I trust and have faith.  Darren and I have looked at the clock several times today and have tried to remember exactly what we were doing at that specific time a year ago.  Our wedding day was the most happy and perfect day I can remember, and I have loved remembering the details of that day.

I consider myself a romantic, but when it came time to discuss the gifts that we wanted to give each other it was Darren who told me that the 1st Anniversary is the Paper Anniversary.  So, we went to a beautiful stationary store we recently discovered in Salt Lake, Tabula Rasa, and got some handmade paper and a wax seal.  For our gift exchange today, Darren and I wrote letters to each other on the paper we had bought, shared the letters with each other, and then sealed them to open again next year on our second anniversary.  Here's to a great second year of marriage!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Now-Nov. 13

Here are my Happy Now 10 from last week:

1.  History's mysteries--This month in my reading class we are focusing on biographies.  I was talking to my parents a few weeks ago about choosing a biography that all of the students in my class could read together.  Based on their input, I ended up choosing a biography on Amelia Earhart.  I remember being fascinated by her life and disappearance when I was in elementary school, and I have loved sharing her story with my students.  Whether we are discussing Roanoke Island in Social Studies or Earhart in Reading, discussing historical "mysteries" with my students is so fun.  Their eyes become wide and their minds start racing and for a few moments keeping their attention requires absolutely no effort on my part.

2.  Law school letters--On Wednesday morning during my math class I looked through my classroom door window to see Darren standing in the hallway.  He had a big smile on his face.  I stepped out into the hall to discover that he had received his first law school acceptance letter.  What a happy moment that was!  I am so proud of the work he has put into applying to law school and am looking forward to the changes these next few months may bring us.

3.  Student for a day--I took another professional day on Friday to cram a month's worth of studying into one day for the Praxis II teaching exam, which I took Saturday morning.  While the test itself caused me some anxiety, I have to admit I LOVED being a "student" again for a day.  I loved waking up, fixing myself breakfast, and reviewing educational theories all day.  Dorky, I know.  I enjoy being the teacher, but I realized I also really miss being the student.

4.  College campuses--The above mentioned teaching test was given on the BYU campus.  Again, I loved walking around this familiar campus and feeling collegiate all over again.  It really is a beautiful campus, especially this time of year, and I am a proud cougar alumna.

5.  Love story--I read this love story on Sara's blog this week.  It's so beautifully written.  Thanks for sharing, Sara!

6.  Cleaning day--Cleaning is typically not one of my favorite things, but this past weekend I got the cleaning bug and just couldn't stop.  It felt so good to scrub and clean and throw away and light candles.  I turned up the music and just got to work.  Now if it can just stay this way for a little while until I get the cleaning urge again ...

7.  First year flashbacks--On Friday night Reagan Academy hosted a fund-raiser Art and Basket Auction at the school.  I took a couple-hour break from studying and went down to distribute my raffle tickets.  While I didn't win a thing, seeing students from my first year of teaching (who are now in 7th grade and were back visiting their old elementary school) definitely made me happy.  Seeing them and hearing them call me "Miss Sonne" brought back so many happy memories from my first year.

8.  Tickling the ivories (kind of :)--Our neighbors were out of town for a few days and asked us to take care of their bird.  They own a piano and, knowing I used to take lessons, told me that I was welcome to play a few tunes while I was over feeding "Jerry".  I have known some amazing pianists and my musical talent is mediocre at best, but it was so fun to play!  I miss having instruments around and I wanted to immediately sign up for lessons again.  What was my favorite part about playing?  A rousing duet of "Heart and Soul" with Darren!

9.  Wedding pics--As our 1st Anniversary quickly approaches, Darren and I have been looking at wedding pictures again and deciding on some prints we want to order.  I love re-living that day.  I am so grateful for the friends and family who made such an effort to be there and helped make it the day that it was.  Thank you!

10.  Girls' Night Out--Speaking of amazing friends, I was SO excited for a girls' night dinner over the weekend.  Brie was back in town for a few days with her darling daughter, Emmaline.  I met up with Katie, Celeste, and the two Weir girls at Buca di Beppo on Saturday night.  We talked and ate and talked some more.  Oh, how I wish that we were all neighbors and could have evenings like this much more often!

Brie and Celeste

Miss Emmaline--just one of the girls!

Me and Katie

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Now-Nov. 6

Here are 10 things that made me happy last week:

1. Halloween--elementary students + costumes + candy = A very festive (if not a bit chaotic) holiday!

2.  Making Halloween cupcakes for some neighbors--What is it about this time of year that makes baking so much more fun than usual?

3.  Teaching conference--Last Thursday I got a substitute for my class and went to a "Motivating Unmotivated Students" conference in Salt Lake City with some other teachers at my school.  While the conference wasn't everything for which I had hoped, it was so nice to have a change of pace and get a chance to bond with some lovely fellow educators.

4.  Mornings in bed--On both Saturday and Sunday I woke up around 6:30 a.m. feeling rested and unable to fall back asleep.  So ... I fluffed up my pillow, grabbed a book and my computer, and read and wrote e-mails for the first couple hours of my day.  I have to admit, there are definitely worst ways to spend quiet weekend mornings.

5.  Fall Daylight Savings Time--I remember telling Darren not too long ago that I just need a few more hours in my day.  Well, yesterday we got one. :)

6.  Snowy weather--I know what some of you are thinking: being grateful for snow is not typical behavior for Mrs. Kate Myler.  Maybe it was the mornings I spent in bed, waiting for the sun to rise, and knowing that there was a THIN layer of snow outside while I was safe and warm under my comforter that actually made me smile at the thought of there being snow on my doorstep.

7.  Finishing a book--There are few things as sweet as finishing a good book.  There is a feeling of accomplishment and time to relish the purpose behind the author's writing.  Love it!

8.  Starting a new book--The excitement I find in starting a new book rivals the satisfaction I feel in finishing a great one.  I'm always intrigued by what an author chooses to write as the first and last lines of a book.  I read the first sentence, especially of a book that comes recommended from those I know and love, with all the anticipation of meeting a potential life-long friend.

9.  Beautiful writing--My dad has taught me the beauty that can come from clear, simple writing.  Occasionally, however, I come across some very flowery writing that is nothing short of delicious.  This was the case in the new Book Club book I started reading Saturday morning: The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman.  I LOVE her detail!  Her first paragraph completely drew me in:

"At dawn in an outlying district of Warsaw, sunlight swarmed around the trunks of blooming linden trees and crept up the white walls of a 1930s stucco and glass villa where the zoo director and his wife slept ... Oriental rugs warmed the parquet floor, where strips of wood slanted together as repeating feathers, and a birch armchair squared one corner of the room.  When a breeze lifted the voile curtain enough for grainy light to spill in without casting shadows, barely visible objects began anchoring Antonina to the sensible world."


10.  Friends having babies--A few weeks ago, I found out that a good friend is pregnant with her first baby due this May.  Yesterday morning, I received a text from another great friend announcing the birth of her first--a precious baby boy.  I am so excited for my friends and their new little families.  I can't help thinking how lucky these little kids are to have such amazing parents.  Congratulations, Tessa (and Paul) and Shelley (and Nick)!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Now-Oct. 30

I decided that instead of writing descriptions of ten things that made me happy this week, I would represent them through pictures with small captions.  While there were things earlier in the week that made me happy, all of these pictures came from happy moments over the weekend.  Here are my Happy Now 10 from this week:

1.  Being able to run (and finish) the Provo Halloween Half Marathon yesterday--they asked us to wear a costume while we ran, which, for me, translated to cat ears and black running clothes. :)
A few things made #1 possible:
2.  A dedicated husband who, because he couldn't run, was at every 2 mile marker cheering and taking pictures
3.  Running through Provo Canyon in the fall helped me concentrate on my beautiful surroundings and less on running.
4.  I was keeping my eyes out for every mile marker along the run and somehow missed the mile ten marker.  I thought that mile nine was the longest mile of my life until Darren, at about the point this picture was taken, told me I was approaching mile 11.  Phew!
5.  After finishing the run I took a hot bath (to ensure my ability to move over the next couple of days) and lit some candles. 
6.  Guilt-free vanilla milkshake with burger and fries.
7.  In preparation for a friend's Halloween party last night, Darren and  I went to pick out the first pumpkin that we would carve together as a couple.  Darren was very protective of our little guy.
8.  This was the first time I had carved a pumpkin that didn't have triangular eyes and a toothy smile.  I was quite proud of our two little ghosts (though the other pumpkins at the party were much more impressive).  Thanks, Sara and Ian, for a fun night!
9.  This week I have loved creating a Pinterest account and collecting images that I find inspiring in different areas of my life.  Check out what I have so far here.
10.  We are just about to head out to have Sunday dinner with a couple in our ward.  I offered to bring dessert and, despite my best intentions, resorted to something store-bought (a pumpkin pie from Kneaders), but it looks oh, so good!  Can't wait to try it and enjoy a fun evening with Kareena and Chris!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Now-Oct. 25 (Mommymoon 2)

  I am a couple days late making this post, but--boy--there sure was a lot to make me happy last week!

1.  Fall Break--Last week, I had Wednesday through Friday off for my school's Fall Break.  A 5-day weekend could never fail to make me happy.  Originally, Darren was going to spend this time helping his parents fix their roof in Idaho while my mom and I celebrated our second annual Mommymoon (see below).  Because of Darren's thumb injury, however, he couldn't make the trip to Idaho, but he encouraged me to keep my plans for the Mommymoon and sent me off for the long weekend in CA.

2.  Mommymoons--Before I got married last year my mom heard of a great tradition called a Mommymoon.  During a Mommymoon, mother and daughter take a vacation together away from the hustle and bustle of wedding planning to pamper themselves and enjoy some time together before the daughter's wedding.  My mom and I had so much fun last year that we decided to make it an annual tradition.  Who needs a wedding to have a Mommymoon?  Not us!

3.  Seaside Serenity--My mom and I decided to spend our Mommymoon close to their home this year in Orange County.  There's something about the salt air and sound of the waves that has an immediate relaxing effect.  I felt the stress from the classroom melt away as soon as my plane landed.

4.  Airport rides from Dad--This year, we had a guest appearance during our Mommymoon from Mr. Sonne.  I got to spend some quality time with Dad on the rides to and from the airport, as well as some time with him at home while my mom and I were staying there.  I love just talking to my dad about anything, but on this trip I especially enjoyed talking books with him--discussing the books we were both currently reading.  He is currently reading one of my favorites, The Count of Monte Cristo, and I had the rare advantage of being able to talk about a book with which he was unfamiliar, encouraging him to stick with it through the long sections in the middle until the fantastic ending.  He likes to read at least 3 books at a time, something I can rarely do as I have trouble keeping track of characters and plot lines, so he was able to share much more with me.  I left with a couple of book recommendations from him that I am excited to check out.  In addition to books, my Dad told me about a song he had heard that I have been totally hooked on since he played it for me--"Arms" by Christina Perri.

5.  South Coast Plaza (Shopping and Chatting)--South Coast Plaza is an amazing indoor shopping mall in Orange County.  It can be fun to just walk around the mall and window shop.  When my roommates and I were in CA for our Spring Break about a year and a half ago (and Darren and I had started to talk about marriage), we may have had a lot of fun trying on some pretty expensive rings to get an idea of what we "liked." :)  While my mom and I made some fun purchases on our trip, I mostly enjoyed the opportunity to chat with her.  She has such great insights on things, brings so much clarity into my life, and has such a cute sense of humor.  I just love her!

6.  Room Service Breakfast--Big, fluffy comforter.  Four pillows just for me.  Yogurt, granola, fruit, and a bagel.  Hot chocolate.  Fog outside the big hotel room window.  Talking to my mom while she eats her own breakfast in the next bed over.  Enough said.

7.  Funny Picture Frame Fiasco--I giggle just thinking about an experience my mom and I had in Aaron Brothers on Saturday.  I have four rectangular water color prints that I have been wanting to get framed for a while.  My mom offered to help me get them framed while I was home.  Without going into too much detail, trying to figure out how to frame these four odd-sized prints (that wouldn't fit individually into a standard frame) without costing us an arm and a leg took all the brain power of two employees, me, and my mom.  Leave it to my mom to finally come up with the solution.  It really shouldn't have been that hard, and it left us with quite a few moments to laugh about afterward.

8.  Roger's Garden--Roger's Garden is an amazing garden paradise.  In addition to having beautiful plants and flowers year round, Roger's Garden also has breath-taking holiday decor displays.  While I was in CA, they had just set up their Christmas decor rooms.  While I am not a fan of getting Christmasy in mid-October, I couldn't help but feel festive as I walked through the winter wonderland that they created in the middle of Southern California.  Here are a couple of pictures of their Christmas rooms (which definitely don't do the feeling they created justice, but it may give you an idea):

9.  8 P.M. Bedtime--I received some teasing for this on the Mommymoon, but when you're comfortable on the couch or in the hotel bed and the T.V. is on, what's the point in fighting the heavy eyelids?  Am I right?

10.  Halloween Decorations--Our apartment has a couple of new additions thanks to the generosity and great taste of my mom:


Thanks for a fabulous long weekend, Mom and Dad (and Darren)!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Happy Now-Oct. 16

10 Things I am Happy for This Week:

1.  Java Junkie--A new little coffee and muffin stand has opened up near our home.  While I am not a coffee drinker, I have discovered that they make VERY GOOD hot chocolate.  I had driven by Java Junkie for quite a while before I finally stopped to check it out.  Upon discovering their fantastic hot chocolate, I decided that I would treat myself to a cup of their hot cocoa one morning a week on my way to work.  They open about the same time I am usually leaving in the morning, so I've never had to wait in line for this chocolaty pick-me-up.  I've found that I usually stop there Thursday mornings--needing that little extra help in the morning on the last day of the week before Friday.  This past week was no different,  and I sure was grateful for that little extra sweetness in my day!

2.  Anne Soundtrack--Following the example of one of the other 5th grade teachers at my school, I have recently started to play music in my classroom as students come in in the morning.  The music I play ranges from Disney soundtracks to Enya (when I need an especially calm morning).  Flipping through my stack of CDs Thursday morning and trying to decide what to play, I came across the Anne of Green Gables soundtrack that I bought on a Prince Edward Island trip with my roommates two and a half years ago.  The combination of having a cup of hot chocolate in my hand (see #1), listening to the Anne music, and the peace that comes right before the school day starts was an inspiring beginning to my day.  Once the students entered, I offered any student who could guess the correct title of the soundtrack $5 of class cash.  I gave them a hint: the girls might have a slight advantage.  I got several guesses, but the only student to guess correctly was a quiet little boy who sits in the back of the room.  Because of his mom and sisters, this poor little guy has seen the Anne series more times than he wishes to remember--but at least he got $5 of Colonial Cash out of it!

3.  Whole Wide World--iPod Shuffle--Have you ever set your iPod on shuffle and had every song that came on fit your mood perfectly?  That happened to me yesterday as I was out and about running errands.  Every carefree, happy song I own seemed to come on while I was listening yesterday, and it did wonders to lift my spirits.  One of the songs that came on was a song I just recently discovered: "Whole Wide World" by Mindy Gledhill.  The music video of the song below made me laugh a little, but I wanted to share it with you anyway.

4.  Student handshakes--At the end of the day last Wednesday, one of my students came up to me and wanted to show me some handshakes he had learned.  It is a simple thing, but I couldn't stop smiling as he demonstrated how the handshakes worked.  He took his job of teaching the teacher something cool very seriously ... and it made my day.

5.  Runner's high--In a moment of delusion at the beginning of the school year, I signed up for a half marathon at the end of October with some teachers at my school.  Since I've started teaching, I have not kept up on the training schedule for this run, which has caused me to doubt my ability to participate in the run in a couple of weeks.  Yesterday, however, I forced myself outside for the "long run" scheduled for that day.  While I wish I had been able to keep up a better pace during the run, I finished with a much-needed sense of accomplishment and hope.  I guess what they say about a "runner's high" really is true--even if you're not much of a runner! :)

6.  Fall apples--A TA at my school came by my classroom on Friday with a couple of bags in her hand.  She told me that she had a belated birthday gift for me and some apples she had picked off of her apple tree at home.  The birthday basket was filled with candy and an apple-scented air freshener for my classroom.  It was such a thoughtful gift!  And then she handed me the bag of delicious-looking fall apples.  I came right home and put them in a bowl to display in our kitchen.  They taste great and I love the fall colors they have brought into our home.

7.  Homebound husband--Darren returned home at the beginning of the week, which is definitely something for which I am grateful.  I'm surprised how lonely I got without him, even with his sweet notes.  So glad he's home!

8.  Capable PAs and Nurses--Darren and I had quite the adventure on Friday.  Darren was invited by another young husband in our neighborhood to go hunting with him on Friday.  Darren had never been Elk hunting before, but since he was only going to help spot I encouraged him to go.   I thought Darren would have fun (which he really did) and that it would be a great opportunity to get to know some people our age living around us better.  On their way home from hunting, I received a call from Darren saying that he had fallen while helping to bring back the Elk and had gotten pretty scraped up.  That is husband-talk for, "I will need you to take me to the nearest Urgent Care to get 22 stitches put into my nose and hand."  Yikes!  Despite the stressful circumstances, Darren and I both really appreciated the PA and nurse on duty at the Urgent Care.  They worked efficiently and were extremely sensitive to how both Darren and I were feeling.  They took really good care of both of us.  We left the Urgent Care so grateful for the capable and thoughtful people in the medical profession.

9.  A cheerful, trooper of a husband--Those who know me know that I don't handle medical emergencies well.  This is the case despite the profession the males in my immediate family have chosen.  I did my best to remain supportive, calm, and nurturing during the incident described above, but it took every ounce of will power I had.  I was amazed, however, at how well Darren handled the situation.  He was in a good deal of pain Friday and yesterday.  I could tell by the way he winced while the doctors worked on cleaning and stitching him up and how he closed his eyes and just needed to walk around the apartment last night when we were replacing the bandages.  He was prescribed some pain medication, but that made him nauseated.  Through all of this, however, he always talked to me cheerfully and made me feel as though I was meeting his every need, though I know that I wasn't.  He constantly thanked me and apologized for making my weekend difficult.  I am thankful he didn't act as I would have in his position and can only hope that our future children inherit his calm and patient reaction to stressful situations.

10.  Cookie Monster Food Drive Can--Over the past three years that I have work there, Reagan Academy has made an effort to provide a variety of service project opportunities for the students.  Every fall, Reagan hosts a Food Drive.  Classrooms are encouraged to decorate their Food Drive Can.  Though it shouldn't, the task of getting 27 5th graders to creatively and efficiently decorate a can has always been a little overwhelming to me.  I am always amazed, however, when we decide on how to decorate the can and I just turn it over to the students, how well the can turns out!  My first year, the students decided to make a witch stirring her cauldron.  My second year our can became Humpty Dumpty.  This year, the students got really excited about Cookie Monster.  Students voluntarily sacrificed their recess time to finish what they couldn't finish in the time I allotted them in class.  They brought in 88 cans to "feed" the cookie monster.  I get so touched seeing these kids turn their hearts to others and have fun while serving those less fortunate.  Kids can set such great examples in so many areas of life, which is part of the reason why I enjoy spending my days with them as much as I do.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Happy Now-Oct. 9

10 Things I am Grateful for This Week:

1.  Beautiful, blustery fall weather--I had to give a disapproving frown only once when it decided to snow earlier this week, but the snow quickly melted and we were just left with wonderful, crisp fall weather, magnificent thunder storms, and a wind strong enough to kick up the dry leaves on the sidewalks.

2.  Orange Cinnamon Lampe Berge oil and other holiday scents--My sister-in-law, Angie, bought us a Lampe Berge this summer while we were visiting in Idaho.  You fill the lampe with a scented oil of your choice and burn the wick for about three minutes.  After that the room is quickly filled with a lovely fragrance.  This week I started burning the Orange Cinnamon oil I had bought over the summer.  The scent is so delicious and fills our little apartment with a great holiday aroma.  It's burning right now and I just love it.  Also, the mother of one of my students gave me some marshmallow-scented hand soap from Bath & Body Works this week.  It's so fun to have all of these seasonal smells in the home!

3.  Teacher Appreciation Days--This one is kind of funny.  On Wednesday, during my students' recess time, I was working at a back table with some students who needed to catch up on an essay.  I looked up from the table to see my school secretary walk in holding two beautiful bouquets of flowers.  I was absolutely stunned and had no idea what the occasion was.  I read the cards--one bouquet was from my parents and the other was from my husband, both wishing me a happy Teacher Appreciation Day.  I'm not sure where they received their information (the only Teacher Appreciation Day I'm aware of is in May), but I certainly wasn't complaining and definitely felt appreciated!  They also gave my room a great floral scent right in time for parent-teacher conferences. :)

This is the bouquet from my parents that I chose to bring home to enjoy. 

Here are the flowers from Darren that I decided to leave on my desk at school. 
4.  E-mail updates from friends--As much as I love being a wife, I often miss the girl talk I got so often from the roommates I had while I was single.  I hate feeling like I'm missing out on the important, or even not-so-important, details in the lives of my friends.  For that reason, my whole week was brightened when I received four e-mails with updates from some of my favorite gals!

5.  Jackets--That one word sums up so much of what I love about this season.  I love shopping for and wearing jackets.  The fifth grade teachers had outdoor pick-up duty after school this week and, for the first time this school year, I got to break out my favorite jackets to wear while we waited for all of the students to go home.  Joy!

6.  Students who share an enthusiasm for reading--I am teaching a group of students in reading this year who love to read.  My reading class is my favorite 45 minutes of the school day.  I have started having my students write me letters once a week in their Reading Notebooks about the thinking they're doing while they read in class.  Their letters are filled with such wonderful insights and excitement that I LOVE reading and responding to them.  My students become so animated in our class discussions about the books they love.  My heart thrills talking to them every morning.

7.  Zumba--A group of teachers at my school and I have started an after-school fitness club.  This week we hired a Zumba instructor to teach us 3 times a week after school.  I have never smiled so much during a workout!  I'm definitely hooked.

8.  Making Christmas plans--This morning I talked to my mom about when Darren and I will be able to to start driving home for Christmas this year and how long we we will be able to stay.  Just talking about it makes me SO excited!

9.  Buying (Darren's) Christmas presents early--I may have come across a gift that I think Darren is going to really like and got it for him for Christmas.  Now I just have to keep it a secret for about 2 1/2 more months.

10.  Cheesy romance from an adorable husband--Darren took a long weekend this weekend to drive from Idaho to CA and back to help his parents move.  When I returned home Wednesday night after teaching I began to find little notes that Darren left hidden around the apartment.  It's something my dad did for us kids and my mom whenever we were going to be separated while I was growing up (leaving notes in suitcases, etc. for us to find later).  I even found a new note from Darren today in our Primary Manual since he wouldn't be home in time to teach our Primary kids with me.  Below are some pictures of the notes and where I found them:

On my pillow
As a total side-note, I took this zoomed-out picture of the note to show the canvas print of one of our wedding pictures we recently received.  The canvas print was included in our photo package and I wasn't sure how I felt about a huge picture of us on canvas somewhere in our home, but I love how it turned out!
I found this Thursday morning under the peanut butter on the counter where Darren knew I would go to make my usual peanut butter toast breakfast.

In my scripture journal
Hidden under my brush in the bathroom
In my school gym bag--"Have a great time at Zumba"
In our Primary Lesson Manual

I realize that in future weeks I might have to look a little harder for the little things that make me happy, but this week it wasn't too difficult. :)

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