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. :)

General Conference

Twice a year, the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speak to the world about things relevant to our time in General Conference.  These men and women teach us how to have more peace, joy, and hope in our lives.  General Conference weekends are two of my favorite weekends of the year because they are always filled with such wisdom, insight, and direction.  The fall General Conference takes place the first weekend in October and, as usual, I loved watching every minute last week.  It was especially exciting to get to hear a story shared by Elder Cook about my great-grandfather, Alma Sonne (I may have started jumping up and down when he started the Titanic story)!  As a side note, Alma Sonne had a ring made after that experience with his initials "AS" on the top and the date he finished his mission in England on the inside.  Because of the experience Alma had at the end of his mission with the Titanic, the ring came to symbolize faith, following the promptings of the Spirit, and the importance of remaining loyal to friends.  Alma wore it everyday and, when he died, it was passed down to my dad who has the same initials and who now wears it on a daily basis.

The Saturday before General Conference, there was also a special broadcast from Salt Lake City just for the women of the Church.  The women who make up the General Relief Society Presidency (the organization of women in the LDS Church) speak as well as a member of the First Presidency of the Church (the Prophet or one of his counselors).  I learned so much from all of the words spoken, but perhaps the biggest messages I heard were 1) God loves his children and is aware of their needs, 2) the challenges we face are meant to strengthen us and bring us joy if we endure, and 3) we don't need to wait to find happiness, but can be grateful for the many blessings we have NOW.

Inspired by these messages, I've decided I need to take more time to reflect on the things for which I am grateful every week.  Every Sunday I plan to write a blog post listing 10 things I was grateful for that week.  There are the big things for which I will be forever grateful and that go without saying, such as the family, friends, and Gospel that continually enrich my life.  I hope the "Happy Now" posts will help me reflect on the small things that happen each week that often get over looked but, nonetheless, make my life the happy one that it is!  The "Happy Now" title comes from President Uchtdorf's talk during the General Relief Society Broadcast two weeks ago in which he counseled us to "forget not to be happy now."  Look for the first post next. :)
Design by Deluxe Designs