Saturday, December 13, 2008

Reasons 11-13

Life doesn't get any better than this~

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reason for the Season No. 9 & 10

After hours of finishing up my Stanford class (the third and final portion of my six month CLAD program), I am tired of typing so brevity is the order the day.

Reason for the Season No. 10 -

Today is Ellie Beth Collette's 1st birthday. It is unreal to me that a whole year has gone by since that sassy little girl came into the world, but I love her (and her fabulous family) dearly. I can't wait to see what she becomes. Have I mentioned before that I'm hoping for her and Mae to be best friends? Dare to dream!

Reason for Season No. 9 - At the risk of sounding like "omg, like I'm totally grateful for my phone," I have to say I really am grateful for my phone (not to mention a ridiculously large amount of minutes each month). The telephone is in my top five favorite (and essential) inventions because it gives me the ability to talk to all those people that I love so much who live far away. Even though phone conversations are not as wonderful as face-to-face chats, they help make the time in-between much more bearable.

*On a random, sad sidenote - I promised to keep a few of your updated on my student who has been struggling with less-than-perfect decisions. His parents have decided to send him away. I thought things were getting better, but he came in today while I was teaching another teacher's class and told me. To say that I am crushed sounds dramatic, but the teacher version of myself really is-- I think sending this kid to boarding school is like admitting defeat, but obviously (and for good reason) my opinion is not significant. I hope they let him come home soon--

Monday, December 8, 2008

A few more reasons...

Reason for the Season No. 8 - Today is actually my mom's birthday. One of the things I love most about my mom is that she makes everything beautiful. My mom wants everyone to be happy. And she embodies the idea the concept of "girls just wanna have fun."

Reason for the Season No. 7 - Mae just might be left-handed. Now, I am not saying I will love her less if she is right-handed, but I will love her more if she is a south paw. Can't help it. Lefties unite!

Reason for the Season No. 6 - I love temples. They are a constant reminder that God loves us and that there is a plan in place for each of us. We just need to slow down and take a minute to listen. Temples are the perfect place to do that.

Reason for the Season No. 5 - Making plans is one of my favorite things to do. I love planning trips, projects, lunch dates - you name it. Making plans is fabulous. A few of the most recent schemes include a trip to Georgia with Jewels next summer, a grading weekend with Katie to Tahoe, and a craft day with Tracy and whoever wants to come while we watch a few essential chick flicks. Can't wait!

Reason for the Season No. 4 - I love my cousins. Most recently, I saw Chris, the youngest of the infamous Jackson brothers, at a Stanford women's volleyball game. Granted, he does coach for USC, but he makes up for that by being Chris. Without a doubt, the cousin I am closest to. Love him dearly. Also on the cousin radar - Jeff just got married and is having a baby! Eric looks like a grown-up (he is looking like a southern Logan Huntsberger for you Gilmore fans) - what is that? How come he looks like a grown-up, and I still get told to go back to class?

This is Action Jackson competing against Mr. Colby Jackson - Mike's youngest (until baby no. 3 arrives!)

The new Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Holtz - can't wait to hear details on Baby Holtz!

Mr. Blades out on the town in Athens, GA - this guy just gets cooler!

Reason for the Season No. 3 - Nostalgic memories can be both a blessing and a curse, but I was wrapped up in one yesterday that made me relax and appreciate the intricate beauty in the world around me. It goes back to my second winter in college when I was living at Raintree - it had to be early December, that time of the semester where people are scrambling, panicking, and living on a prayer that they make it through the last days of class. And one school day, it snowed all day - big, fat flakes covering everything. Mel and I bundled up to go for a walk - gloves, beanies, scarves - still freezing, but it was so beautiful. I stood outside after our walk and just watched it snow - and I knew in that instant how much God loves us (and that I was a Californian through and through - who else would find frozen water pelting out of the sky so amazing?).

(There's no picture for that one - just the snowy images drifting across my memory lane...)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Reason for the Season No.2

When I came up with the idea of writing the things I am most grateful for this holiday season, I had a few specific ones in mind. All of those slipped away today as I met the new custodian who cleans my classroom each day after school He was optimistic and had an energy that I rarely see in our overworked custodial staff. We got to talking and I learned a bit about Sergio's life as he emptied the garbage cans (and complimented my classroom - extra points ps and by the way, since I just decorated for Christmas). I learned that Sergio works at San Ramon from 3pm to 11pm, Monday through Friday, and works at a local country club from 5am to about 1:30pm to support his wife and baby. Yet, he was grateful for his job and for his new little one. What a humbling experience for me - I thought that some of my days were long. They are nothing compared to Sergio's, and still he greets everyone with a smile.

So my Reason No.2 is two fold - one, I am so grateful for my job--that it's secure and what I want to do. I chose it - I'm not forced into it. I can take time off and not worry about having food on the table or heat in the winter. Two, I am grateful for optimistic, can-do people that help set the pace for rest of us. If Sergio can do it on four hours of sleep and two jobs, I can certainly do it too.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Reason for the Season No.1

When Patti Mortensen told me two years ago, "Oh you have to meet the Katies," I had no idea what she meant. I was barely out of college and teaching in Utah. When was I ever going to cross paths with Patti's Saint Mary's students? Fast forward a year, and I was teaching at San Ramon with the infamous Katies. I was still in shock over my divinely orchestrated move to California, and just as Patti had forseen, instant friends. The Katies were the first people to come meet me at my new school. They were my first connection to "the group" (our quirky, but cool clique at SRV - yes, high school teachers are still caught up in drama of their own). They listened to me, laughed with me, and agreed with me with I thought the "higher-ups" were going to force me into early retirement with their "collaborative" ideas. Now another year later, Katie Milner has made the trek to Colorado to be with her fiance leaving Katie Finegan and I as the sometimes good humored, sometimes sarcastic pair that creatively tries to make it through the joy that is public education (not to mention life in general).
Fin is everything I need in a friend and coworker - she loves movies and books. She grew up watching Dr. Quinn and Anne of Green Gables. She loves trivia and is close with her family. Katie is funny, honest, and brilliant. Truly, each school day is better because I know Fin is just down the hall. She is a reminder that God is mindful of our needs, and so she is one of my reasons for the season.

ps. From left to right in the picture taken just before halftime at the homecoming football game - Jaclyn, Julie, Katie, and Echo (Zach is our lone wolf on the second row). San Ramon won that game by the way - a crushing victory over Granada. Go Wolves!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Endless Photo Boxes

Sometimes I wonder how I managed to be surrounded by so many good friends who seem to possess boundless creativity and an uncanny eye for a good picture. The question for you all today is what do you do with your extra pictures (ie those doubles that you shouldn't have printed or the pictures that didn't make the cut for the album or picture project)? The OCD side of me says it's time to toss anything that I haven't used or looked at recently. The packrat in me is angry that I am even considering getting rid of old pictures. Any ideas to help the silence the ridiculous quarreling voices?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Stealing Time

It's nearly 1am the day after Thanksgiving - the smell of turkey is still lingering in the air. People are lining up for the insanity that is Black Friday. My wonderful family is fast asleep. And I am up, completely awake, thinking about how blessed I am. This is the last Thanksgiving my family will spend together as a whole group until 2012--knowing that made today extra special, almost like we stealing time. If I could, I would pause time here for a just a little bit longer because days like today are what life is all about.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Doses of Hope

I avoid doctors like the plague - almost as if they were the actual cause of my ailments. Instead small doses of hope seem to make my days better and my nights more peaceful. Though the doses do not actually fix my ailments (be they physical or caused by my insanity that comes and goes with the length of my to do list), they do seem to make the world a more user-friendly place. Here are a few of my recent self-prescribed doses--

I love seeing how much good people can do for each other. Even though Ty Pennington is crazy, I love this show.

Being at the same high school as Cameron rocks my world- this kid thoroughly entertaining to be around. Notice that fabulous hair he has in this picture - yeah, it's completely gone - he shaved it for the big game against Monte Vista. SRV won by the way - completely wiped the floor with those whining mustangs.

Hanging out with Angela Chase and Brian Krakow can make a girl a bit melancholy, but living in the world of Liberty High with the whole clan these past few weeks has been thoroughly enjoyable.

Lastly, I have been sending out inordinate amounts of mail which means two fabulous things - one, I am checking off things off my to do list (makes anyone feel better) and sending lots of letters and notes all over the world. Everything seems better when there's something random in the mailbox - doesn't matter if I'm sending or receiving it.

There you are - doses of hope, doses of happiness. Seemingly small and simple, but wonderful pieces of my existence. Isn't life great?!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Blessing Mae

Per Lauren's request, here are a few shots of Baby Mae's Blessing Weekend - like I keep saying, the world truly revolves around her now...and we have no complaints about it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Definition of Cute

This was taken during Auntie and Mae playtime this past weekend. Epitome of a perfect moment! Can you believe how big she's getting?!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Really, what did you think?

I started a very melodramatic post today during school - cannot finish it now. It's too introspective for the amount of laughing I've done tonight. Just had to quickly jot down one of those classic moments that proves life is so much funnier than fiction...
One of my past students from Heber instant messaged me on facebook tonight (something I never am signed in to, so it must have been comically fated) with a rather urgent, "I need to talk to you." I was thinking some sort of drama - college class related, of course. No, no - she wanted to know about "Travis" (names have been changed to protect the innocent - oh wait, I was the innocent - so his name really is...). Not the Travis I met and adored during a few months of Raintree life. The Travis who asked me out while I was half dressed, getting work done on my then-recently injured back and neck. This past student knew he had asked me out because he had been hitting on her simultaneously at night school before realizing she was sixteen (not kidding folks). I went out with him once because it's my rule...and he was nice. Just not quite my style - the best part of our night together was me finding the store where Jewels and I eventually found her wedding dress. Now, he's hitting on that same student again - and she wrote me to see what our history had been and whether he was a good guy. Are you kidding? A student going out with the same guy I did - awkward, bizarre, and a million other words...not to mention so hilarious I started laughing out loud with just the computer screen and blinking text as company.
That's it - just had to share - maybe it's not funny. Maybe you have to hear me tell this to understand because I am hoping they get married. Did I mention when she was in high school and I was her English teacher, we looked alike? Oh yeah, it just keeps getting better.
Love it! Love you all -- hope you're having a wonderful November so far! Good night--

Thursday, October 30, 2008

One of My Favorites

Teachers aren't supposed to have favorites, but of course, we do. The kids that walk in and melt my heart on the spot are each so different- it could be their sense of humor or the fact that they propel discussion forward with randomly brilliant comments. Or it could be that I can see in an instant their potential and their past - in a glance I can see their twenty-something self and their seven-year-old self. I love them for who they've been and who they can be, and I love that I get to be with them for a short part of their journey....

One of my favorite students is struggling right now. I adore this kid--I was drawn to him from the first couple weeks of school last year. A kid who was so tiny when he came in as a fifteen-year-old sophomore, and who has grown into an insightful, but misguided junior. He needs one of those ten second visions my Raintree girlies always talked about-- a chance to see what could be possible in the next ten years. He's not seeing past today, and day by day, I watch him slide farther away from the person he could be. I want to shake him-- ask him what he's doing and what he wants. And the sad thing is, I don't think he knows. The rough thing is that I'm not his mom, his friend, his counselor - I'm barely even his teacher since this year he's only a T.A. But I feel like I'm one of the last solid adults standing between him and the chasm he's throwing himself into as he pushes all the others away...what am I supposed to do? Such a fine line between listening and accepting who he is and challenging him on the decisions he's making.

He lied to me today, and it physically hurt to acknowledge that. And even worse, to acknowledge that I cannot fix him. There's no perfect educational tenet for how to make him care or to help him understand how much the people around him care, not about his academic life, but just about him. My program director in college always said, "Even the good Lord can't save them all," to let those of us who would try to save all our students know it wasn't possible. I'm truly sorry to admit tonight that she was right, and I confess that I don't really know where to go from here. Except that I'll wake up, go to work, and look him in the tomorrow demanding calmly an explanation--which won't satisfy me because even in his honest explanation, I'll still know that he has very hard road ahead - one that I'll have to be content to watch and to trust that God knows best. Hopefully Prof. Nelson is wrong about this kid, but as he is one of my favorites, I'd like to see him graduate and go on to live a very happy life...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Two Years

A few years ago, I was crowned the Princess of Useless Information - a title that I gladly wore since it was bequeathed upon me by my extended family who crowned my aunt the Queen. Part of that repository of information includes an odd fascination for dates - not all of which are useless (love knowing people's special days). I can tell you when random things happened in history or in other people's lives. I can tell you my hairdresser's anniversary or what day my brother graduated from high school.
Today is one of those random days that I can't seem to shake out of my head - two years ago I was in my first car accident. A simple rear-ending on Highway 189 as I got to the US-40 junction in Heber. Seems like a trivial thing to mark time with, but my life has not been the same since. There are so many reasons why that day is significant - why the days that followed have become a classic anecdote that my students love (first time I told it, the word "ho" slipped in when I was talking about the other driver - you can imagine the reaction with a bunch of 16-year-olds and my flushed face...). That day was the beginning of thousands of dollars dedicated to fixing all that was "shaken" out of place - it also was the beginning of a learning experience that I am still very much a part of. Being in that accident and the one that followed all too quickly six weeks later has tested my trust in the Lord and tested my ability to let things go. And much to my chagrin, I don't think it will be over soon. Somehow, that's okay though. I lived to the tell the tale, right? And now I understand one more thing that other people go through, and I can be there for them when it's hard to get behind the wheel or go to sleep at night because all you hear is crunching metal and screeching tires. Besides, I still have a lot to learn before the Queen passes on her title. Can't wait to mark more time - to see what adventures and "important dates" life has in store....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Jumbled Mind:Me::Coherent Post: ???

Have I ever told you that I like analogies? I like analogies on tests (even if they are not my strongest section). I like analogies in literature. I like sport analogies given by insanely passionate coaches. I like analogies for life from...

Except that not all analogies make sense - I am a girl profoundly rooted in the things that I know. The list of the things I know has seemed tragically small lately. Tragic is a dramatic word choice, but the choice is intentional. I don't know how Obama or McCain is going to lead this country if elected. I don't know how anyone could have summed up Sarah Palin better than Matt Damon when he said the idea of her being president is like a bad Disney movie (sorry Palin fans - this one rings true for me). I don't know how I'm supposed to do well on a test where I can't skip the questions I don't like (hello, GRE is tomorrow folks! Can we say I think I'd actually rather be at work?). I don't know how to combat the unknowns in life (ie the timetable for Mr. Right to wander into my life, where I'm supposed to be next year, if I go to grad school, where, what specific degree should I seek, etc, etc) since I'm a girl who likes to have something that resembles a plan. I don't know how the kids I teach are going to make good choices when their peers and their own insecurities drown their good sense and lure them towards things they intrinsically know are wrong....

And yet, this past Friday I was reminded of one thing that I do know more perhaps than I know anything else. I was talking to my dear friend Hillary about one of the hardest things we've had to grapple with lately (a friend whose personal choices are having a terrible affect on his life and future) and feeling bleak as our discussion of the "hows" and "whys" of the situation yielded few concrete answers. As our conversation was coming to a close, I told her how this was one of those situations in my life where as Brooke Constable would say we have to "Let go, let God." And I felt sure that God knew exactly the battle our friend was having. God knew the battle Hillary and I were having over trying to understand our friend and trying to understand a God whose plan included so many options for unhappiness when the real goal is joy.

I don't know many things, but I do know God knows us and loves us more than we can possibly know. And though I lack answers and direction in my life that may seem or actually be critical, I know that He knows where we are all supposed to be. If we put our faith in Him, He will guide us. He always does. And let's be honest, if that some of guidance includes whether to mark choice B or choice D tomorrow on the analogy section, I would be the last to complain.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

4 Weeks

4 weeks from tonight-
*I will have taken the GRE (can we say math issues? had to meet with a math tutor for the first time since Julie Blodgett tutored me my freshman year of high school)
*I will have my first quarter grades posted and be a week plus into the second quarter (where is the time going?)
*I will be three days from leaving for my annual Tahoe trip with the girls (any additional takers on the trip?!)
*I will have voted for the next president of the United States and will be actually watching the votes roll in
*I will just be getting back from Mae's blessing weekend (one of those insanely quick trips where we try to fit as many family events into 36 hours as we can)
*I will have new contact prescription (I am squinting like a fool to read things - time to to go to the doctor!)
*I will be finished with my second of three Stanford classes (dancing at the thought)
*I will have rediscovered my sense of humor that is not laced with unhealthy (but hilarious doses) of sarcasm

This is just the beginning folks - October is going to be crazy, but great. I love October. Such an adventure--here we go!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Procrastinating - Part 2 (this time with David!)

My to do list is horrendous (like every other working student in the country), and so I found myself looking for a laugh after finishing one thing on my list. The random craving that came to me was a South Park tribute to Mormons being the right religion for getting to heaven (sound familiar to Sunday School? And who thought Kenny was really dead? He's just in spiritual prison...). Oddly enough, youtube linked David Archuleta options to my "South Park Mormon" query. The video ( is of David singing "Be Still, My Soul" in a church service (so yes, you have to get past the fact that they are filming him in a chapel - probably a deranged fan behind the camera- I promise it's not me). His rendition is beautiful - calmed my stress and eased the "elephant sitting on my chest" feeling more than anything has these past few days. Who knew youtube could answer prayers?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Procrastinating with the Gaffe Machine

I have been remarkably mum on politics lately - I'm almost proud of my silence because it means I have resisted the urge to fly off the handle when candidates say things that are utterly ridiculous... Tonight though I am desperate to avoid homework. It's week two of assignments being due on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. Are you kidding me? Bad teaching strategy if you want quality work - Anywho, my procrastination led me to a newsweek blog on the candidates stumping across the nation. The focus this evening was on Joe Biden-- A seemingly solid choice at first for v.p., but he comes off like he doesn't know Obama's key ideas. Thoroughly entertaining to watch the video attached to the blog and see him contradict himself twice in forty seconds ( I love politics - they make for hilarious discussion and quality distraction.

Hope your political ideologies are holding strong and haven't been too shattered by the ability of youtube to catch our candidates at their finest. I better get cracking on that homework--

Mae likes Biden's commentary on goal in China too. See, she's riveted~

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bliss is...

The 3rd Season of "The Office"
Catching up with Anna Jane
Holding Mae while looking at a Williams-Sonoma catalog
Jewels' face when she smiles at her little one
Being asked to be co-chair of the sunshine committee at work (and we wonder why teachers struggle to gain professional status)
Procrastinating homework
Tina Fey as Sarah Palin
Making plans with Mags and Maria to goof off at USC
Jenessa mastering a floating jump serve and doing impressions of my coworkers
Unexpectedly adoring Steinbeck's "East of Eden"
BYU winning 59-0 over UCLA
Tahoe on a warm afternoon
Stephen Colbert announcing he teaches Sunday School for his church

Hope your day, week, and month is blissful! Love you--

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Numb Toes

Once upon a time, I was a traditionalist. I believed that doctors and western medicine could cure common ailments. Now, I cling to the promises of those I once called voodoo doctors (aka those souls who cracked backs (chiropractors) and poked people (acupuncturists) for a living). There are promises from these new found doctor friends of full mobility and mornings without feeling like a 25-year-old trapped in an 80-year-old's body. This is not a sob story Ladies and Gentlemen-- It is simply a story of toes....toes that don't move without extensive thought and toes that don't feel...numb toes.

Random right? But in all reality, folks, I have two numb toes on my left foot. They can feel pressure, but if I were standing on hot coals, they would the last to aware of it. How might a person end up with numb toes? One precisely positioned needle that nearly sent me flying off the table yesterday during an acupuncture treatment. This is a first...and hopefully a last. Not sure how long the numbness is going to last - my chiropractor said he got an acupuncture treatment last year and his hand was numb for 48 hours only to be replaced by aching pain as the nerve reawakened. Maybe people seek out traditional remedies for a reason....oh well! Just another anecdote to get my students laughing.

ps. Since pictures of my toes would only reveal to you the color of my fabulous nail polish, I'm opting instead for a couple recent shots of Baby Mae. Love her!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Flavor of the Week

I do not bounce around from man to man the way the singer of "Flavor of the Week" bounced from chica to chica, but the loves of my life vacillate with the day, the mood, the moment-- A few loves this week...

*my red pens - there's something about them that makes me feel like an adult (a rare experience, let me tell you)....
*new vocabulary words - not for my students, for me. I love learning new words. I know that exposes me a class-A nerd, but if you didn't know I was a nerd already, you really don't hang out with me enough...
*Mae's nose - it's just one tiny facet of her overall spell that she has cast on everyone who meets her, but I cannot get over how cute it is...
*fallen leaves - leaves are slowly starting to turn colors here as summer tries to cling on. I cannot wait for full blown fall....
*Jim's pranks on Dwight - fact: jello is a necessity at work. Haven't figured it out yet, but I will somehow put office supplies in jello before the year is out...
*tiny hands gripping my finger - I know you know that I am in love with Mae. Just thought I would give one more shout out to the little one that I plan my afternoons around....
*budgeting - no, I have not been sipping my dad's accounting punch. I just love the feeling of saving and planning for purchases. Hope this more concerted effort towards this habit sticks....
*driving on the Bay Bridge at night - the party I went to last Friday in the city left something to be desired, but driving into the city with the bridge lit up is beautiful, romantic, and exciting in a way that I can't quite describe-- everything about it appeals to the eight-year-old version of myself and since my eight-year-old self does more of my thinking than it should....

Enough loves for now - Mae has emerged from her nap, and I either should play with her or get grading. Too bad grading is not one of my loves for the week!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Odds and Ends

The chaos of every day living is too much to bundle into a nice succinct post. So instead, here a few odds and ends that are bouncing around my brain...

1. People are always asking "if you could meet one actor, who would it be?" I have never had a conclusive answer until this past weekend. Edward Norton-- I am completely enamored with his ability to transform himself from movie to movie, by his analytical dedication to stories and truth (Yale undergrad, writer, linguist, etc, etc). I watched "Keeping the Faith" for the millionth time and then listened to his audio commentary about directing and producing the movie. It made me want to write a screenplay and pick his brain apart - sounds bizarre and an odd focus, but if my brain is not pondering Mae or "The Painted Veil," it's bouncing to Mr. Norton.

2. Obviously, I love books more than I love food, and amazingly enough, more than I love bubbled beverages. Not all books possess the power to stay with you as you go about your days. "The Painted Veil" (yes, I know it should be underlined. Don't know how to do it...) is that book right now. It captivated me from the very beginning - a tale of romance and betrayal, disappointed expectations and ascertaining purpose - it is not a story for all readers, but I cannot get Walter and Kitty Fane out of my head. Oh, I did watch the movie too this weekend after I finished the book - yes, Edward Norton did play Dr. Walter Fane. Coincidence - though I was not disappointed in any way to watch two movies starring him within a few days of each other.

3. In all reality, Mae should be the only focus of my writing. She is the reason I put off my homework, the reason I do not care to run after a ringing phone. It's almost impossible to imagine life without her though she's barely four days old. Tonight, I had the chance to hold her for an hour straight with no interuption. I patted her tiny back and kissed her perfect forehead while she slept scrunched on my chest. Wish I could put the day job on hold and just spend my time with her-- that's the current dream.

Well folks, that's it for now. I need to go say goodnight to my niece and then dream adapting my first novel into a movie with Mr. Norton--what a perfect to do list.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Oh Baby!

I tried to come up with an opening that would convey the thrill of welcoming Mae Alyse Munson to the world, and I have not been able to find the words. So simply put - Mae was born yesterday, August 29th at 6:24 pm in Walnut Creek, California. She weighed six pounds, five ounces and was 19 inches long. It was not an easy delivery, but Juliann stoically persevered with Brett holding her hand the whole time. More details will follow, but for now, here some of the first shots of baby Mae.

Isn't Mae perfect? Not that I'm biased or anything~

Jewels holding her piece of heaven - mother and daughter seem as though it is a reunion and not a first time meeting. God really does have a divinely orchestrated plan for each of His children.

Does Mae know already that these pictures are just the beginning? Eyes covered, saying, "Please, just let me sleep Jaclyn."

Couldn't resist one more picture of her adorable pink socks poking out of her blanket-- they're so tiny!

Babies are such strong reminders of our purpose here on earth - I feel so blessed to be a part of this little one's life. Love you all!

{For more baby updates, check out - Jewels will start posting tomorrow when she gets home from the hospital!}

Sunday, August 24, 2008

One for the Ages

Two weeks without posting - in my pre-blog life, I would have laughed at the thought of caring about not writing on my blog, but here I am way behind with no hope of catching up tonight. I thought I better write a quick post though to let people know that I am not buried (at least not physically) underneath school files or standing in front of an open freezer praying to catch a cold (a way, albeit an unoriginal one, to get out of going to school). Yes, I did go to Hawaii. Yes, it was amazing. Yes, I also love the Olympics. No, Jewels hasn't had her baby yet. No, I didn't grow any more before I turned 25. Yes, I was called as activities co-chair. Yes, I did cry about it (ask my Provo roommates the one calling I dreaded and had successfully avoided until a couple weeks ago). Yes, school does begin tomorrow. Yes, I am excited, exhausted, and frazzled by the prospect of 170 new students. Yes, Ryan left for college. Yes, Jewels and Brett did move in. Two weeks without posting - way too long...oh and yes, I wish I could twitch my nose and transport myself to London--anyone care to come along?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Last Chance~

This is it folks, the last day I have to grow. Maybe in the next 24 hours I will finally hit 5'7'' or have longer fingers that can span nine piano keys comfortably instead of eight. Doubtful I know, but all my life I've been told that you grow until you're 25 and today is all I have left. Here's to hoping!

Just in case you're curious how I am welcoming in the big 2-5...Tracy and Rachel are throwing me a party tonight and I leave for Maui tomorrow morning...blissful way to end a summer and warm up to the idea of being a certifiable adult. And yes, this is probably the only swimsuit shot you'll be getting of my "trip" - it was only taken a few years back when I thought I would one day be 5'7''.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Let's Go Fly a Kite!

You can almost hear the cast of Mary Poppins singing whenever you fly kites. Good chunks of time the past two weekends have been spent flying and making are few shots of two weekends ago when I went to the annual Berkeley Kite Flying Festival.

The view from the festival was amazing - Golden Gate on one side - the skyline of Berkeley on the other. It was perfect weather - warm with a breeze. Warmer than we actually realized since all of us went home redder than when we had arrived.

Odd picture to include, but I promised Mags a picture of my new haircut. I am the girl on the right in the maroon shirt - yes, that's me and yes, that is the shortest my hair has ever been.

The octopus kites were fantastic. From certain angles you felt like you were in the ocean watching them swim.

The kite flying crew-- from left to right, Sterling, Jaclyn (yes, thought the name was necessary since some of you might doubt that I would ever have such a short hair), Matt (he's holding our fabulous dragon kite), Kaity, and Nate. Diane was the photographer so obviously she's not pictured, though the dragon kite is hers so she gets extra points.

So there you have it folks - kites, sunburns, laughter, and friends - that day had it all. Tune in later for a the kite making story--

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Time Warp

Just for the record the "Love, Love, Love" post written below was not written Sunday. Otherwise, I would possess uncanny abilities to see into the future. I simply edited a post today that I had barely started on the 27th. Didn't notice the time stamp until just now, and I don't know how to change it...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Love, Love, Love

Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! No, Dorothy - it's not cool to name my moods. The late summer blues (ie the realization that I have to return to full-time work in a few weeks), some undefined illness, and a resurgence of neck/back issues have left me, shall we say, less than blissful this past week. I've spent more hours than I care to admit lying in bed loathing the muscles that run along my shoulder blades, dreading the approach of department meetings, and wondering what it's like to take a deep breath. Today, I decided enough was enough. So what if I'm sick? So what if I can't move with ease? And so what if it's July 31st? Can't change any of the above - but I can change my attitude. So, here are things that have helped brighten a few rough days-

I love---
*that Hillary Collette was in town for almost two weeks. Everything seems better when she is near. Being around her is like being in a Disney movie - the flowers could start singing and the animals might help dress the baby because Hill is so kind and so optimistic.
*flying kites. I went with friends to Berkeley's Annual Kite Flying Festival this past Saturday. Hundreds of kites dotted the sky with the panorama of Berkeley on one side and the Golden Gate on the other. I love the Bay Area - so many cool things in one place.
*sewing with Jewels. No, I did not make that up. I do possess patience to sew when Jewels is there to guide me. We finished my fall quilt today. It's the first quit attempt since Mrs. Seidell's sewing class in high school. I am loving the final product! [Nanners - you are saint to have spent so much time with me. I really wasn't stressed with you there - you must have magical powers!]
*rediscovering "Alias" with my mom and Jenessa. Sydney Bristow rocks - no other way to put it.
*the power of movies and books to transport you to another world. This week (keep in mind, I've been sick and had orders from doctors to keep my neck and back still) I've cooked in Barbara Kingsolver's kitchen, fallen in love with Noah Calhoun, rooted for Julie over Meredith, been mystified by Eisenheim's illusions, and wished Will would get up the nerve to tell Syd that he loves her.
*people's comments on my last blog. Odd thing to love, but I had forgotten about some of the things people said. Fun to remember.
*fresh produce from the farmers' market. This past Saturday's purchases include Shady Lady tomatoes, green bell peppers, green onions (extra love here), Neptune peaches, and kettlecorn.
*General Conference. No, my pain pills have not dulled my senses completely. I know it's been months since the last conference. I set the goal to finish the May Ensign this summer and thoroughly enjoyed going over the talks again. I learned things I didn't even notice when I was listening in April. We are truly blessed to be led by men and women that are so in tune with God's will. I hope to follow their examples more closely with each passing day.
*that Baby Mae is almost here. That little one has no idea how much she is already loved - she might be a little too loved. We'll have to dial it down a bit (at least in public).

Basically, I love lots of things. Not really lions, tigers, bears, and those freaky black squirrels that live in Jewels' apartment complex, but lots of other things. Mine is a life truly blessed.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Strolling Down Memory Lane

Normally, I don't participate in questionnaires or the random things that come my way via the internet, but I found this on my cousin Jessica's blog...and I really liked the idea. We all have such distinct memories of our friends and our families - ironically, I don't think they're the same memories. When I talk about a roadtrip, I'll remember "flying" with arms out the windows while someone else will remember the insane stories that came from "truth or truth." So if you have a minute, give the directions below a whirl--

1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember!
2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you.It's actually pretty cool (and funny) to see the responses. If you leave a memory about me, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave one about you.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Am I allowed to air random confessions through my blog? If I could sit you all down on my couch and tell you these stories, I would. Since most of us are now living many zip codes apart, here a few of mine in one tidy stream of consciousness.

*"Happy Christmas!" No, not a mistake - if Hermione can say it, so can I. Ahh, but you're not commenting on the use of "happy," you're thinking the mistake is that it's July. We just celebrated the 4th. My birthday and Labor Day come first (literally could be Labor Day if my sister pops September 1st!), not to mention Halloween and Thanksgiving come way before Christmas. But I confess, I have been indulging the craving for Christmas music. It started one Sunday a couple weeks ago with a song that was on a church music playlist and has blown into me even listening to Christmas tunes in my car. It has to stop. In fact, I told myself I could do it for one week only (that week ended yesterday--guess what I listened to earlier today?)

*Confession No.2 - I have forgotten how to use a computer. Four times (not once or twice) I have replied to recent emails and replied to everyone on the blasted list. Two of these were missionary emails so a ton of people that I don't know got my "just wanted to say hi, etc, etc." Worse, last school year, one of my coworkers set me up with her son (she had China patterns picked out before we'd even met). We only went out once before he went back up to BYU-Idaho. Randomly, he sent me a forward a couple weeks ago with a second email that was actually directed to me. I just clicked on one of the emails and wrote him back - no, no, I emailed everyone back the "it's been a long time. How are you? How's school..." Are you kidding me? How did I make that mistake again?! He and all of his email list now know that I'm doing well. They know too that I saw his mom in May, that his sister and I still keep in contact and...good grief. So sorry, ps. and by the way, if you were on one of those unfortunate lists.

*Odd confession - I have managed to make myself sick - literally. I have been reading a book on healthy food choices (so much more to the book, but I'll write about it later) and pondering the inadequacies of what I put in my mouth (hello? have you read the ingredient list on a can of one of my many bubbled drinks?) Couple those thoughts with a few new-found stresses related to work, church, and just life in general - and you have physically ill. I didn't know I was so powerful. Now if only I could channel that power into finding a decent political candidate? [Wait - was that out loud? Dare I comment on politics to such a diverse group? I don't really dare right now - just saying my vote this year could be write-in for Dwight Shrute. Okay, not literally, but it sounds much more rewarding than the current choices.]

*Final confession - I love Gilmore Girls. Why is that a confession? Because most people just enjoy the show. I actually dream of living there with the characters. On more than one occasion, I have woken up feeling like I have just strolled the streets of Stars Hollow or gotten in a fight with Luke. Obsession? Madness? Admittedly, I am not much of a TV watcher anymore, but Gilmore Girls seasons are one of my vices. Ten minutes a day keeps the one-liners coming and the smiles about Rory's ability to pull a book out of any bag she's carrying, Lorelai's caffeine dependence, and Paris' and/or Luke's rants plastered on my face even during dismal bouts of traffic or excessively long homework assignments.

There you have it folks - a few of my confessions. Not quite as dark and juicy as you might have hoped, but watching "The Dark Knight" pales every dark thing within a thousand miles-- Catch ya later--

Sunday, July 6, 2008


My mind is all over the place, and to save you a schizophrenic experience, I probably should write later. However, I keep putting it off so here are a few snapshots of my disjointed mind...

*I have been reminded recently of how many fabulous girls I had the chance to live with in Provo. In my years living in Happy Valley, I lived with over twenty girls from all over the country - girls that each had such distinct personalities and strengths. They changed my life. If I get too specific, I'll never be able to stop, but one memory that keeps coming back is one Sunday afternoon back in the fall of 2002. I was having an inner meltdown over picking a major, communicating with the adults in my life, crushing on a Cuban, etc, etc and these girls wouldn't leave me alone--sound negative, but the internal monologues I have with myself get intense and these friends wouldn't let me go cry alone. They surrounded me when I was at my lowest and stayed there until I was laughing over "Three Amigos," the idea that we could abandon school and get jobs at Sundance, and Treasure Barfus. Were the issues of that day solved? Of course not, but as Spencer W. Kimball said, God answers our prayers usually through the hands and words of the people in my life. Anna Jane, Mel, Carli, and Maggie B. were the answer to my prayers that day and so many other prayers in the days, weeks, and years that followed.

*I love books - sounds like I'm started over last week's blog, but this past week I read "The History of Love" (per Becca's recommendation - phenomenal book!), "Twisted" (young adult fiction - not as good as Halse's previous work "Speak), "A Million Little Pieces" (harrowing tale of a recovering drug addict- painful to read), and "The Holy Temple" (divinely inspired work - motivated me to attend the temple more often and to get back into family history). I won't go into more detail, but I am grateful to have extra hours to read.

*I went to Tahoe for the 4th of July weekend. While we were coming home from a game of mini-golf (have I ever mentioned how bad my hand-eye coordination is?!), there was serious traffic because of a car accident. Cars for a solid couple miles were turned off since they had been sitting so long--the joys of one two-lane road that surrounds the lake. So, what did the Hutchins children do? We decided to start walking. We chatted with people along the way, saw a Nevada state senator, looked into people's backyards, and had a really good time marching along single file. We probably covered about a mile and a a half before the cars started moving again. We were dusty, sun-burned (yes, I burn in less than an hour), and blistered (cheap flip-flops are not good cross-trainers), but we (Ryan, Cameron, Jenessa, & myself) had a great time on our random adventure.

Dare I post such disjointed writing? I think I do-summer is just going to take coherence from me as I mellow out so much I won't know what day it is. Love you all. Hope your summer whether you work, go to school, or chase little people around all day is going well.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Heart Books!

It is no surprise I love books - I love the way they smell, the way they feel in your hands, and most importantly, the way they transport you to another life, time, or place. Since I was a little girl, I have used the summer months to catch up on all those books I haven't had a chance to read during the school year. This summer, I've already been lucky enough to read four books (besides my textbooks of course), and it is just the beginning. Why tell you this? Because along with rediscovering my love of reading these past couple weeks, I have had a lot of fun with It's a way to see what people and your friends are reading, to read reviews on the books being read by your friends, and to get ideas of what you'd like to read when you finally get a chance. So if you have a minute, check out Even if you're not churning out novels by the week (or by the day if you're my sister or my grandma), it's still entertaining to see your friends are reading.

And despite sounding much older than I am, I have to tell you how much I enjoy attending my book club. A group of my teacher friends started it a few months ago. The book club is great because we have teachers that come from all disciplines so we get a variety of perspectives from people who have such different backgrounds. Our most recent discussion was on "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close." It tells the tale of a nine-year-old boy who has recently lost his father on 9/11 and the journey he takes in trying to understand both his father's life and his death. I cannot adequately explain the story in its uniqueness and its twisting plot, but it is very well written. The author uses pictures and color to help demonstrate his themes and points--I've never read or seen anything like it in an adult novel. Our book club discussion was all over the place as we hit topics varying from world politics to what the objects we value mean to those who are left behind after we die. Not to mention that we laughed at a nine-year-old's take on love, New York City streets, and the quirky people he encounters. I'd highly recommend it. Next month we're reading Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life" if you want to join us--

Anyway-- enough random spill on books. I have to be careful. Once I get started talking about books, I almost cannot stop. I am off to read "Twisted" or "Salvaged Pages" - not sure which I'm craving more. Happy reading!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

In Honor of Johnny

I am not a consistent journal writer. Despite the fact that I carry a small notebook everywhere I go to record random impressions and ideas, my beautiful leather bound journal has more blank pages than it should. I don't write for a number of reasons - the chief of which includes that I am far too detailed, and I've usually written pages before I've gotten to the heart of what I intended to write about. Also, writing experiences or thoughts down makes them real. I can avoid them or pretend that I don't feel that way in speech and in action, but there's no hiding in a journal. It's complete honesty, sometimes to the point of pain. And yet today, I feel it necessary to set a new goal to write in my journal on a regular basis. Seems a simple thing to do, but I have set this goal before and failed almost immediately. This go-around though, I have a stronger motivation and reasoning for doing it - concisely put, it is because of Johnny.

John Dietrich Hoffman was born in Germany on April 16, 1922. We don't know when exactly the Hoffman family immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, but we know well that he was my papa's brother and my grandma's uncle. He lived a very humble life - a young man during the Depression, he worked to support himself as part of the CCC - FDR's idea of how to employ those affected by the economy's downturn. Unknown to anyone else, he joined the army in the early 40s and showed up at my great-grandparents' home in San Francisco after completing basic training. Little is known about his service, though we do know that he did not like the army. And so when the war ended, he took a job found for him by his brother in South San Francisco in a factory near what would later be known as Candlestick Park. He worked there as a machinist until he was 62. Then he collected his pension and his social security and lived a quiet life that only included a few blocks in the heart of the city. To our knowledge, Johnny never married, though he did love a good woman named Peggy who he took care of while she suffered a long battle with cancer. Johnny was content to never learn how to drive - he didn't have anywhere that he wanted to go. He ate breakfast at the same diner every day. He walked his beloved dogs, read his paper, watched a little tv, and bet on horses when he could at the track. After complications from a bad fall in January, Johnny died on February 2, 2008.

Though we didn't see Johnny often (he didn't like to travel - Concord and Alamo seemed an eternity away), it was always entertaining when he came to dinner on holidays and special occasions. He had a distinct way of speaking - he never beat around the bush, and he always wanted to know about you and your family. Johnny asked sincere questions about other people, but never spoke about himself. He had a way of deflecting your questions and moving conversation back to someone else in the family. And that's why, after his memorial service that was held yesterday in Placerville, I walked away wishing we knew more. His siblings and parents are long gone. Anyone else who knew him is aging or dead and was also kept at bay not knowing any of Johnny's personal details. We don't know why he hated the army - was it the death he saw or corruption in his commanding officers? Why didn't he marry Peggy? Or if he did marry her, why didn't he share that with his family? Why did he lie about being born in Germany, instead always saying he was born in New York? Etc, etc.

With Johnny at the forefront of my mind today, I heard multiple talks and comments that seemed directed at me. They all focused on remembering and recording who we are, both for our purposes and those that follow us. I knew as I listened and now as I write, that despite my inadequacies and my constant reflection on the oddest things, writing in my journal needs to be a priority. I have always known that, but not accepted the responsibility. I have watched great examples (Megan--you especially!!) prove that it can be done and done well. I want to fill dozens of journals with pages that are covered with the classic day-to-day experiences and life-altering moments and random recollections of love that was lost and found, divine inspiration that changed everything, dreams that somehow came true, and goals that were finally accomplished.

Someday, when I have passed through the veil, I will sit down with Johnny and finally hear his stories. With diligence and help from above, hopefully, my family won't have to wait that long to know what I thought, what I did, and what I knew to be absolute truth because of my journals and the stories we have told over the years. The people I love most deserve to know, and so now I am off to write-- Good night and happy journaling!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer Bliss

Welcome to Summer 2008! I have been dreaming of this moment since August 27th of last year. Somehow the two moves of last summer negated the lazy bliss that is supposed to be mine for two solid months, and so here I am ready to begin the endless days of nothing that I have to accomplish. Except, that I do have things to do - it wouldn't be my life if there wasn't some list made out of all the things I hope to do with my endless hours.
So far, summer has been wonderful. I have spent solid chunks of time dedicated to studying and writing papers for my Stanford class (okay - not so wonderful, but I've had the motivation to do it so that is truly a wonder). I have spent a lot of time with my family and my grandparents for Ryan's graduation and Father's Day. Jewels has been up to Alamo almost every day which means excessive laughing with my sisters. Tracy and I have spent hours lounging, talking, and making plans for all the fun things we want to do in the next few months and the rest of our lives. I have already sent out the invitations for Jewels' baby shower with Jenessa's help and am having fun imagining life with Baby Mae running around. I have begun evaluating different lessons I taught this past year and made plans for what I want to try and incorporate in my classes next year. I have started three novels (Mercy, Fire in the Blood, and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) and have finished one (Fire in the Blood). I said good-bye to one of the Katies (two amazing friends that I teach with at SRV) as she prepares to start a life in the shadow of the Colorado Rockies. I have started piano lessons for the first time since high school - my fingers felt a bit like the Tin Man's as I tried to finger scales that used to just flow across the keys. I am definitely going to need some oil and hours of practicing before that's a reality again. And to think - this is just the beginning. I love summer!

Ryan's graduation officially marked the beginning of summer. In this picture you have the SR4 and M2 (Mae counts as a person too!). Oh, and can you tell we're related? No wonder the SR4 freaked people out in the hallways on those rare occasions that we were all together!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Daddy's Girl

I am a daddy's girl. Growing up, if my dad was interested in something (baseball) or seemed to know a lot about a subject (history and politics), I needed to be a part of it. For Father's Day this year, my dad asked for his kids to write a memory. In lieu of a blog about how great my dad is, I think this memory written in letter form will suffice. It is, after all, one of my absolute favorite memories from my childhood.

Dear Dad--

I have wanted to live in a musical my whole life. From the minute I saw Annie put on by the Clayton Valley Third Ward at five or six-years-old, I was sure that things were better when put to song. I belted out an off-key version of “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” so often that one FHE, a smaller version of the Hutchins clan (just Dad, Mom, Juliann, and myself) went to Tower Records to buy a tape of Annie. I, of course, had no idea that’s why we were getting in the car instead of watching The Cosby Show, but I can still feel the perma-grin feeling when you walked me to the musical section of the store and handed me that tape. I remember carrying around a tape player for months afterward just so that Annie and Daddy Warbucks could come with me and serenade whatever task I was doing. I was probably just coloring a picture or reorganizing my stuffed animals on my bed, but while I put the pink bunny next to my Hello Kitty, I was singing “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”

Really though, my love of musicals became an obsession when I first became acquainted with a little girl named Cosette and with a tragic, lovelorn Eponine. When Mom came back from her bookclub trip to LA to see Les Miserables, I took her tape and began to try and learn the words of a story set to music that would eventually change my life. I don’t know how long I belted out “On My Own” before you came home from work one night and showed me two tickets – one for you and one for me to the Curran Theatre in San Francisco to see Les Miserables.

Time for a seven-year-old does not pass at the same rate as an adult, but after an interminable time, you and I got on BART one Saturday and rode to the city. I was wearing my mint-green dress with black polka dots. I had on white socks with lace and black slip-ons with bows. Mom made me bring my white sweater (which I, of course, needed, but didn’t want to take), and I had my little black purse slung over my shoulder. In my purse, I probably only had chapstick, but I had to be fancy that day since you were in a suit, and we were going on a daddy-daughter date!

I don’t remember where we ate, though I know I spilled hot chocolate on my sweater. You let me buy Juicy Fruit gum from a corner market. I ate all 17 pieces by the time we got home from the play. I do remember though, walking into the theater. I remember the red carpet and the bright lights. It was so grand to my little eyes. Only Annie got to go to theaters like this. We sat in the front row of the Loge section. I was so short that I had to lean over the railing the whole time, but to this day, that is my favorite place to sit in a theater.

I am sure I did not understand anything about that play though I do remember the electricity in the air as those amazing voices pierced the air. I thought for sure that Fantine would get better. I thought that Marius should have picked Eponine. I thought the gunshots were real, and thankfully did not understand what lovely ladies really were. I remember us talking about the story during intermission and on our way back to the BART station. I hated Javier and could not appreciate any aspect of his struggle. As you held my little hand in yours, you probably laughed at my shock and vehemence over a story that was so different from usual discussion of my Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein books.

The fog never burned off in the city that day, and so I remember curling up next to you on the train as we rode home from that Saturday matinee. I fell asleep, exhausted from the excitement of my first real play humming melodies that would help inspire my love for the piano as well as my overall love for music. When I walked off the train, dazed but thrilled to show Mom my program, I thought I had just had the best day of my life.

I still listen to Les Mis at least once a week as I get ready for work. I still love Marius, but I now understand his choice of Cosette. I love the Bishop for his compassion, and Fantine for sacrificing everything for the love of a child. I don’t hate Javier anymore. I try to live by Jean Val Jean’s example, who like you, gives his life to the person [people] he loves most.

The final line in Les Miserables before the cast breaks into “Do You Hear the People Sing” is “to love another person is to see the face of God.” When I saw Les Miserables for the first time, I did not appreciate that concept nor did I fully appreciate what an impact you would on my life. But through your unconditional love, I see the power and comfort in God’s love for us. I appreciate that glimpse of heaven and your example, more than you know. And on less serious note, thank you for making my life as close to a musical as humanly possible. Love you forever!

Happy Father’s Day—

Friday, June 6, 2008

Dead Week

It truly was one of those slow motion observations during 1st period. I watched Carlie's hands miss her Nalgene bottle and the water cover her, her chem book, and her desk. Immediately, I moved into fix-it mode - towel, paper towel - which is better for the textbook? I hurried from my desk towards the double-door cabinets....
....and then after a couple steps noticed my bare feet on carpet. Then slowly, I realized I was standing a few steps out of bed clad in my pajamas. There was no need for a towel, just an excessive need for more sleep. The joys of vivid teaching dreams (or nightmares) during particularly stressful times of the school year. So no, Carlie did not spill her water this past week, but this spring's dead week has been an adventure. I should have more report, but I am basically just glad to have survived. On Monday, after being buried by papers, anxiety (mine, my students', my coworkers',etc), and a few other choice things, I did not think I would. Now on Friday after having officially left school at eight pm, I am inwardly dancing (and admittedly outwardly if you peek in the window on my classroom door) at the thought that this time next week, I'll be free!
I should note before I venture into a dreamless sleep [here's hoping, right?!], that I could not have done this week without Tracy. Every day this week, she did something above and beyond the call of duty. From listening to exhausted rants to showing up at school with ice cream to helping set up the enrichment I hardly had time to stop for, this girl did it all. Everyone should be so blessed to have a friend like her.
So now, it's off to bed. My Saturday morning has me back at my desk in E4, red pen in hand whether I'm fully awake or not. For my students' grades' sakes, I really should have at least one eye open. Good night!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Jenessa Alyse rocks my pretty pink socks!

This past school year, Monday through Friday, the Hutchins high-schoolers, Ryan (18 - senior), Cameron (17 - junior), and Jenessa (14 - freshman) have left the house at 6am to make their way to the Danville stake center for seminary. By about 7:25, Jenessa has made the rounds, checking her locker and catching up on the latest gossip (which she is rarely a part of - smarter than her sister already!) By 7:30, Jenessa has found her way to my classroom to spend her A period with me. While I run around posting makeup work and writing the day's agenda on the board, she crammed two hours worth of homework into forty minutes. Though we have managed exceptional (and necessary) amounts of productivity during that A period, we have managed to laugh until we cried about everything from how to pronounce Miercoles to my teacher voice to the awkwardness of having a student walk in and say, "You're my best friend" and then turn around and walk out.

Flash forward six 55-minute class periods, one 10-minute break, and one 35-minute lunch, and you find us exactly the way we were in the morning, her sans the homework and me marking attendance online. We're laughing at that same kid who says I'm his best friend and who has now come in to inform me I'm his auntie (Cameron adopted him) or griping about lame parents, teachers, students, or classmates (depends on the day). We compare plans for the afternoon and evening, roll our eyes at the insane amount of homework she has, and on good days, plan an outing to High Tech Burrito. Then off she runs to catch carpool before Ryan leaves her.

The reason for explaining Jenessa and my weekday madness is to give you a glimpse into how special this kid is. On my worst afternoons (ie days when kids either lit things on fire or told me to my face that my class was &$#@), when I thought breakdown was inevitable, in tumbles this incredible kid who surpasses me in every way especially her goodness and her brilliance. Though Jenessa could be running around with her friends, she makes sure to check in and say hello. This school year has tested my limits - on two very specific occassions, I was sure that I was going to quit, but Jenessa kept me going. I couldn't leave her. Send her to the library during A period?! How could I? More than that - how could I miss this chance to spend so much time with Jenessa during her high school years?!

It's been so much fun to watch the "rug rats" as I used to call the youngest three take on the challenges of a new high school, especially after being away from home for so long. When I left for BYU, Jenessa was 8-years-old, reading up a storm and scribbling into her fifteen notebooks that she had stashed around her room. Her bed had over a hundred stuffed animals on it (all named by the way) which actually only left her a corner to sleep on. When I came home this past summer, she was 14, tall, beautiful, and much cooler than I ever was - she loved the Book of Mormon, had great friends, worked hard at school and piano, and aspired to the Ivy Leagues. In the last nine months, she's only gotten cooler. High school hasn't ruined her - she's just as friendly as she was last August and gets funnier by the day. Miss Ness has made my year. I'm looking forward to the question next year of, "Miss Hutchins, is Jenessa Hutchins your sister?" To which I'll reply, "Of course she is - she's taught me everything I know."

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Magic of Foil and Scissors

Simply said, I love getting my hair done. The process, despite the fact that it often takes close to three hours, is one of my favorite experiences. In no other setting do I get to walk in, be excessively pampered with scalp massages and fingers running through my hair, talk with a good friend, and wind up looking better than when I arrived. Natalie Seely, the creative mind and hands behind the hair style and color, gives me a glimpse of what my heaven will look like - someone to do my hair every day. I'm happy to cook, clean, drive my own car, but sign me up for a personal stylist to wash my hair and make me look like I know what I'm doing with my insane blonde hair.

So for your viewing enjoyment, a random view into the before, during, and after of my most recent visit to Natalie's--

Looking pretty normal for the end of a windblown day- notice my normal does include looking borderline like a nineteen-year-old college coed, but not too much I can do about that.

In "Steel Magnolias," Dolly Parton's character says, "There's no such thing as natural beauty." While that view is a bit extreme and makes me laugh, the image of me with enough foil in my hair to pick up HBO is a classic example of the madness that girls go through for "natural beauty."

My level of love for new haircuts is evident in two things - how much I stare the mirror and how much I touch my hair. Embarrassingly enough, Natalie noticed this when she cut my hair in February - like a pre-teen I was checking myself out in the mirror and touseling my own hair while she was working on my sister's. I tried to resist (notice the word tried) the hair touching and checking out my every angle this past Thursday. Natalie called a few minutes after I'd left the salon, and what was I doing while I was driving on the freeway? Touching my hair and sneaking glances in the rear view mirror. Definitely a whole new level of love!