Sunday, December 13, 2009

A shopping trip to remember

The following story happened last week when my friend and roommate Kassie and I went to Provo for some Christmas shopping. I was going to report on it, but Kassie did it so well, I've cut and pasted the story below. I didn't ask permission, but she'll forgive me. It really was a funny night.

"WARNING, this is a long whiney story, but it makes me laugh just to relive it.

"Arti and I drove to Provo/Orem to do some shopping (I thought that I had to work, but it was only Tuesday, and I work on Wednesday. Working nights messes up my body schedule to the point that I have no idea what day it is) . . . anyway that is another story.

"We got all of our shopping done hunky dory, and are ready to head home when I decide that I need to fuel up. Stopping at a nearby Holiday Gas Station (the one with the creepy clown guy); I start the process of putting fuel into my car. I’m standing outside in the freezing cold (because you can’t get back in because you don’t want to start a static electric sparked fire), when I get the bright idea that I need to clean my windshield somehow in the 283 degrees below zero weather. After chipping the little sponge/squeegee cleaner thing out of its bucket of ice I begin to spread a thin layer of water on my windshield, which froze instantly into a thin film of ice like I totally knew it would, but the look on Arti’s face through the window (like what the crap are you doing) made me start laughing, and somewhere in the hysteria my dang windshield wiper blade just fell off, serious it just died right there in my arms, snapped clean off, irreparably off, I don’t even think that I touched it. I stared down at the carnage and my face must have had some odd form of expression on it because in my peripheral vision I saw Arti laughing so hard she couldn’t even open the door to help me figure out what the crap to do. Here I stand in the freezing cold winter weather, with a dead windshield wiper blade in one hand, the murdering sponge/squeegee thing in the other, and a thin film of ice on my whole windshield. By the time that Arti makes it to my side her tears of joy are freezing as they run down her cheeks. Still stunned I stand there and all I can think are (bad words and dirty names), when the helpful guy at the gas pump next to ours says, “Wal-Mart sells wiper blades for like 5 bucks.” At this point it becomes totally funny, and I begin to laugh almost manically as I grab the scraper to get the ice off (seeing as the windshield wiper blades are useless to me now). We flirt shamelessly with the helpful guy at the next gas pump, and then drive away in search of a Wally World that will help us out at 11 o’clock at night.

"We get to Wal-Mart, the doors to the hardware side are locked so I have to use the other entrance (keep in mind that it is FREEZING COLD OUTSIDE). I finally find the wiper blades in the 10 acre plot of the SUPER Wal-Mart and there before me is about 10,243 different types and sizes of windshield wiper blades (bad words and dirty name) good thing I took the dead wiper with me for size because I didn’t read the owners manual to know what size to grab (I’m use to NAPA where you tell them what you need they grab it from the shelf and even replace it for you). Finally making my selection, I walk the mile back to the checkout stands (where they have 25 registers, but only 3 are open). First line I get in the register dies just dies on the lady in front of me (it must be my curse of the night). The next line I wait in for 6 years before I get to the register, and then the register guy is so busy chatting with me that he starts to swipe everything on the conveyer belt until I’m like wait I only have the windshield wiper blade (the guy behind me was crestfallen when he realized that I wasn’t going to buy his groceries).

"Arti has been waiting in the car, and when she sees me slipping across the black ice rink that passes for a parking lot, she gets out of the heat haven inside the car, because maybe two of us can figure out how to properly attach the cursed black thing before frostbite sets in. Somewhere in figuring out how to attach it the little black contraption that attaches the blade to the arm of the wiper goes flying though the air and disappears. We stand in the parking lot stunned . . . how the crap are we going to find a little BLACK thing at 11 o’clock at night on a black pavement parking lot (bad words and dirty names). Through some form of divine intervention the little black thing is discovered, and the blade attached quite easily (they really are user friendly). Story done. We start for home again with a serious case of the giggles because of the ridiculousness of the situation. At least it wasn't a flat tire, I didn't have my phone with me and we would have needed some serious back-up on that one."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A rant for education

*Disclaimer: I usually keep my opinions to myself because I like to be agreeable. I smile and nod during conversations I disagree with, and that's fine for me. But this particular matter needs me to open my mouth and not sit back idly. I've been reading "Civil Disobedience" with my students this week, so maybe I'm doing my part to cause friction in the machine. Just sayin :)

Okay, so here's the deal. I'm a teacher, and I don't know why. Well, I know why, but lately I don't know why anyone stays in the profession expect they think they are getting something done. Something meaningful too. So I accepted a lifetime of crappy pay when I selected the major. I didn't always think I'd be the one income in my life. But regardless, I accepted the pay. I even accepted it in Utah. I could go, literally, anywhere else and make more, but being close to home is a big bonus. But personal reasons for staying in this job are beside the point. I love teaching, so they'll probably have to kick me out in 28 years with or without a retirement.
I went to an Association meeting today. Yes, I'm a member of the Association, and I think every teacher should be a member. The Union really has my back, and I'm learning just how much they do for teachers. At our meeting today we got introduced to some proposed budget cuts the legislature has planned for us in the near future. For some reason, they feel that the education system isn't worth investing more money in. In fact, they are proposing some serious budget cuts--anywhere from 1-5%. Even in a small district like mine, that's more than a million dollars (at 5%).
For obvious reason (like my salary), this infuriates me. But on a deeper level, I think everyone is getting cheated by this. Do you have a student? You're getting cheated out of the best education for your student. Do you own a business? You are getting cheated out of future educated employees, AND money that could be put back into the economy. Putting money into education is good for everyone. Even if you think your school has "crappy" teachers, and you don't think they deserve to be paid more, putting more money in education is a good idea. I bet everyday someone has an internal battle of "Do I make some sacrifices and do what I love (teaching)? Or do I choose something else so I can afford the lifestyle I want?" And, I bet everyday teaching loses someone that could become a fabulous teacher. If the teaching profession were a little more competitive, I bet those "crappy" teachers would shape up, or at the very least schools could find someone to replace them.
So here's the bottom line. Something has to change. The economy isn't as bad as it was a year ago. It will be slow going, but things will have to get better. But at the rate things are going in Utah, the trend in education spending will only get worse. Teachers can't keep doing more for less, and with out the support of voters and other citizens, nothing will change. I'm not asking anyone to do anything but maybe pay attention to the legislation this year. Email your representatives to encourage them to vote in favor of education friendly bills. Don't vote for people who won't fight for education. You may not care what kind of retirement I may or may not get in 28 years, but you might care how much your school has to let go because the legislature won't fund education. Utah is dead last in all 50 states in per pupil spending by nearly $1000 per student. Can that number get worse? Apparently, yes. Be proactive. Whether you are a teacher, wanted to be a teacher, are related to a teacher, or ever had a teacher that made a difference in your life, don't sit by and let the world happen. That's no way to run a democracy. If we want to be ruled by the people for the people, you have to do something more than sit back and watch. Be the people.

(dismount soap box) For happier news read the fun Thanksgiving stories below.

Monday, December 7, 2009

An Update at last: November

November is a crazy month. A lot happened. I wanted to blog sooner, but my camera went m.i.a. after Thanksgiving for a few days. Thankfully my parents returned it to me (triple wrapped for protection in the mail). The month started out with my birthday. That's right, I'm 25. Quarter of a century baby! My mom and Kim came down for the weekend. Gunnison has this fun boutique thing called Mistletoe Mall that happens to fall on the weekend of my birthday almost every year. We ate out and shopped a lot, all of us spending more than budgeted, but most of our purchases were forward thinking gifts for others. (Yeah, that's totally a justification.)

I can't think of what else kept me busy the rest of the month. Probably Young Single Adults. But that's another story. I spent Thanksgiving in Gunnison. My family wasn't really getting together, and the family I live with had big plans. So the Browns have eight kids and like 24 grandkids between those children. I know most of them, and have kind of claimed them as my own. They're great people for letting me tag along on all their fun get-togethers. Kassie and I spent the week before Thanksgiving prepping rooms and bathrooms for the whole crew. Most of them came Wednesday night and Thursday morning. It was great. I think we had 60 people in all for dinner, and more than half stayed the night. We were crowded but cozy. Dinner was excellent. (The pie was superb!) The dishes and cleanup weren't so fun. I can only imagine how hard it would be if we had used real plates instead of paper.

The next day we all loaded up in all the available pickups to go Christmas tree hunting. Kassie's nephew just turned 16 so he gladly volunteered to let us ride in his truck for the day (anxious 16 year olds are so cute, and handy). The drive was glorious. I haven't spent much time in the mountains in the backyard, so I enjoyed it all. We drove to nearly the top before we found a suitable section of trees for us all to go hunting. Kassie and I found a tree right away. It is beautiful and full and slender. Plus it wasn't a spruce or a juniper. Limber pine all the way, baby (thanks scout camp for teaching me tree types). One of Kassie's brothers sawed it down for us and we were happy hunters. I just wish the anxious 16 year old was so easy to please. He and I hiked all over that mountain before finding the perfect tree (which was actually a hard sell). But, we got the job done and I think he's happy with what we got. I actually haven't asked him about it. Hm, maybe I should.
After we got home and warm, I headed for Salt Lake to spend some time with my folks. Mostly I just shopped the Black Saturday sales and hung out at the parent's apartment. It was nice to take a break from the crowd at home. Even with my extended family, the Browns are a big crowd (and boy do I love them).
Kassie and I have been decorating whenever we are home at the same time. Our tree looks amazing, and our outside lights will too. We started on Saturday, but the snow today made us put a hold in the progress. Plus we need a taller ladder. So we have a jumbled strand of lights hanging from the rain gutters waiting for us to finish. We will, but it might take us a while. Maybe we'll get it all done in time for Christmas.
I'm sure something exciting will happen between now and Christmas, but until then, enjoy the snow. I know I will :)

Here's the Hunt and last is the final product:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Stupid Stapler!

It all started a few days ago, and I don't know who to blame it on yet. My students were turning in all their papers at the end of the quarter, using the stapler often to keep their many papers together. I have (had) two staplers: one was a slick black stapling machine, and the other is a stupid, old, brown, sticky, jam-easy contraption. Last Friday I went to staple a few papers together when I noticed my cherished black stapler was missing. I've looked for it for a few days now, and I can't find it anywhere. (Maybe it's in the ceiling with the markers my students put up there . . .) Anyway, today I was stapling a lot, and getting fed up with my old stapler that gets jammed every time I staple something, and only actually works 50% of the time. So naturally, I went to the supply room and retrieved a replacement for my nice stapler. This new stapler, shall I name him Stanley, looked promising. In its shiny, never-been-used condition, it worked like any stapler should. It opened and closed smoothly. Yes, very promising.
I grabbed some staples to put inside Stanley when it happened. Pure evil. I closed the lid of the stapler and suddenly, I had a staple in my FINGER! Not just like poking in a little, but like, flush with my skin. A STAPLE! My yearbook students were sort of gathered around me when it happened. I laughed and cried and laughed to put off the actual pain. It hurt real badly. I had to go watch a class for the teacher next door. They probably think I'm crazy (they probably thought that before) because I was laughing really hard, but really I was crying too. It only bled a little, and I soaked it in Hydrogen Peroxide (retrieved by to caring yearbook staff members) because who knows where that staple has been. Now its sensitive to the touch, like when you get your finger pricked while donating blood but ten times worse!

I guess it's been a hard few weeks for Olsen fingers. If you've seen my brother Bret's blog, you'll know what I mean. I guess my puncture wound pails in comparison to his 18 stitches and a nicked tendon, but it hurts. Bret said he was stupid, so I guess that makes me a moron. I mean really, who staples themselves on accident?

I wanted to take a picture of my owie, but there isn't much to see. The wound is in the middle of the red circle. I drew around it so you could at least tell where the entry occurred. Regardless, I had fun with my computer's camera. Enjoy laughing at my expense.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Fun

Halloween is so fun. I usually like to leave town and visit one of my brother's places to enjoy the little kids trick-or-treating, etc. this year, I stayed in town though, and it was kind of fun. On Friday night, I went to a party with my Creative Writing and Arts Club. We called it Poetry in the Dark (an knock-off of Poe in the Dark from Utah State). I wanted a cool place to have the party so we could decorate and lounge at our convenience. Instead we had it in my classroom. :) No, for real it was pretty cool. I took all the lamps I could find from the Brown's house and took them to my room. It created the perfect low light atmosphere. I got a light up pumpkin and some orange twinkly lights too. The room looked awesome. I pushed all the desks to the wall and brought in camp chairs to put in a circle. It was much more conducive to poetry reading. If only I could have built a fire. . .

My club members brought snacks and I put together some Ghoul-ade (purple and orange kool-aid and ginger ale) together over dry-ice inside a cauldron. Yeah, it was cool. We started by reading "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe. Then my students took turns reading things they had written or scary stories they knew. It was awesome. After the chilling stories, we watched "The Three Amigos." I know it isn't very festive, but they have cool costumes, and I try my best to give my students some pop-culture in their lives. I am a teacher after all. All in all, it was a success, and hopefully a tradition we can carry into the future.

Halloween day didn't amount to much. I went to a piano recital for an adopted niece, Jennie, and then I spent the rest of the day grading papers. Yipee! The quarter ended Friday. 'Nuff said.

Kassie and I dressed up for Halloween. Kassie was a butterfly and I was a pirate. Kassie did my make-up (and hers). She's so talented. We didn't get one together because we weren't ever dressed up at the same time. I only got in this one pose of me before my camera died. So laugh if you will, it was fun.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Kind of Sundae

Or should I say, "That's s'more like it!" bada-bum-ching. Hahaha. I know it's not punny, but I got a million more. (gasp! I'm turning into my punny father! Aak!)
Okay, okay, all jokes aside, I had such a fun Sunday afternoon yesterday. By the title you'd think ice cream would be involved, but you'd have another think coming. Yesterday I got home from church to a house without power. I should have jumped to that conclusion when I couldn't open the garage door, even from the inside. Nope, Kassie told me when I walked in. Since she is a nurse at the hospital she knows everything, so she told me about a fallen transformer (no, not that kind) or the explosion at a substation, depending on the source. The power had already been out for a few hours, so we figured we were in for the long haul. Some predictions said that power would be restored at 3:30, others said 11:00.

Quickly we went through the list of typical power-outage activities: board games, cards, books, walks, or (my favorite) naps.
I hoped for the nap option (being raised in a family with mandatory quiet time on Sundays certainly brushed off on my habits), but when we went downstairs we were greeted by a rush of cold air. The thermostat was set at 62 degrees; in fact, it was probably 20 degrees warmer outside than it was downstairs. With no power, our hopes of increasing the temp on the thermostat were small. Then, we got this grand idea to light a fire in the stove and read next to it--one of my favorite activities whenever Rex lit a fire last year.

I put my Boy Scout skills to work and got a fire going. With the proper amount of kindling, excellently dried wood to stack on top, and a little fire magic, the fire was blazing in minutes. So we sat . . . and read. . . and dozed for a while. Kassie's sister Lacey called and gave us the idea to roast marshmallows over the flames. So we did. AWESOME! We made s'mores and enjoyed our fire. The lights came on while we were roasting, but we chose to keep the lights off. You know, we needed the atmosphere.

It was all fun and games until Kassie got on the phone again with another sister, and I decided to pull out a roasting stick from the fire. I was inspecting it closely, trying to see any left over marshmallow goo when whammo! I touch the end of the stick. Not the wooden end, mind you, the red hot end with white hot ash. I don't know what I was thinking, but my reaction must have been pretty funny. Kassie couldn't stop laughing at me. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Even the nurse inside her was dumbfounded; it took her minutes to ask if I needed burn ointment or anything. I didn't, but that's beyond the point :) Just kidding. We laughed for a long time, and every time it got silent, we would laugh again.

After two s'mores and a little more reading both of us decided it was due time for a nap. Three hours later, I groggily come back to consciousness enough to do some math and get my butt out of bed. I didn't set my clock before going down so I went to sleep with a flashing 2:10 and woke up to a flashing 5:25. I couldn't believe it either. In real time it was after 7:00 and Kassie and I had slept the day away. We both blame it on a sugar/heat induced coma that mesmerized us into sub-subconsciousness. I usually wake up automatically an hour into a good nap, but not this time. Instead, I woke to a numb arm, and a body aching from sleep.

So after a great evening, we spent the rest of the night in the kitchen on our separate laptops. I graded papers and prepared my Monday's lesson until about 3:00, and Kassie played her new addictive computer game. Man, time flies when you waste it on things like sleep too late in the day. :) I'm sure our naps prolonged our ability to beat the sleep. But alas, I am tired again. No naps today though. Well none on purpose that is. Anyway, happy roasting.

Here I am demonstrating proper roasting form.

Look at these flames. They'd put you to sleep for hours too. :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Farmer Arti

I love long weekends. Having four days off this week really rejuvenated me. I got so much done around the house and on my to-do list. I even got to spend an evening with my good friend Kim, who I haven't seen in quite some time. Plus, this weekend was the Potato Harvest at the Browns. Every year they get together and harvest their rows of potatoes. All the Brown children and their kids gather to pick, sort, and eat potatoes. I was around this year, so I was able to take part in the tradition. Saturday morning we got up and gathered out at the Otten's dairy to start the harvest. We were armed with 5 gallon buckets and went to work. We didn't have to pull them out of the ground (in case you were wondering). One son was on a tractor with an attachment that uprooted the potatoes so we just had to pick them up. At one point, the oldest son Todd asked me if I had ever driven a loader. Of course I said no, so he insisted on me learning to drive one. It was crazy fun and very simple. It may not sound like a very big deal, but I had a great time. After we picked, we sorted the potatoes into bags with some to keep and some to sell at the Farmer's Market here in town. Most of the big bags were called for before we even finished bagging them. We also had a big lunch with the family where we consumed mass quantities of homemade French fries.
All weekend I joked with my friend Lacey that her family is slowly changing me and helping with what I call "life experiences." You'd never guess from the girl I was in high school that I would know how to drive a loader (that includes bucket operation), retrieve milk from a milk tank (and drink it raw), be fine with elk and deer meat in the kitchen (one of the brothers brought his meat so he could smoke it into jerky), and contemplate that the life of a farmer is not nearly what I once thought it might be. Man, I've shown a lot of growth, and I owe it all to the Browns.
Anyway, the weekend was a blast, and I haven't even thought about school for this next week. I guess I better get on that :)

Below are some pictures by way of proof of me driving a tractor, excuse me, a loader, and above is a slide show of pictures from this weekend and from the NAMI Walk (which was a great success by the way). A group picture from the walk is on its way.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NAMI Walks for the Minds of America

Hey Everyone!
I know my brother Bret has a similar post on his page, but I figure that I might have a few different followers than he does. I know a lot of you don't know everything about my life and my family or what I spent two summers between college terms doing with my time, so let me just take a second and fill you in:

Jobless, moneyless, and hopeless I found myself at the mercy of my parents one summer. By some sort of Providence (or the whisperings of the Spirit, whichever you prefer) a member of my parent's ward asked me to come volunteer at her work. Two days later, I was getting paid the big bucks(not really but enough) to put all my talents into the NAMI organization. NAMI is the National Alliance for Mental Illness and does a lot of great work educating the public about mental illness. They are all about fighting the stigma and the power, getting legislation passed and helping families and consumers in need. I fell in love with the people at NAMI, and more importantly, the work. I had never worked for a non-profit organization, but I quickly caught the vision and came to terms with some of my own issues. As a daughter, sister, and friend to people who have dealt with mental illnesses, NAMI helped me see what I can do to help those close to me and myself through some pretty dark times.

I don't want to get too sappy or reveal too much about the people I care about (falling victim to the stigma here, but they aren't my stories to tell). BUT, what I really need you all to help me with is a donation fundraiser. It's sort of short notice, but NAMI is sponsoring a 5k this weekend in SLC, and my immediate family is joining me. We are trying to round up as many donations as possible to help with the fundraising goal. I have a personal goal of $100, and so far I have collected zero. The money raised here goes straight to NAMI Utah: Our own local entity that does things in our state to help people you care about fight the good fight. I used to help run this event, and I know it is all legit. They don't even give out free swag (for the sake of pure honesty,they do give out donated prizes from sponsors).

Seriously though, anything you can offer will help. $5, $10, whatever. If you go to my walk page, you can donate straight through the site. I've used it before, and you won't get attacked by emails and no one will give out your info.
Also, if you have nothing to do Saturday at 10:00 feel free to join me. We're walking at Spring Mobile Ball Park. Join Team Voldemort today by following the above link, or at least help us meet our fundraising goal!

Love you mean it,
Arti O.

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Post (for lack of better title)

I don't know what happened. I used to be so good about updating my blog, and here I am waiting weeks and months between updates. Mostly that's okay. I'm only sparing you all from hearing about the trivial monotony of my life. Going to school all day and coming home, doing nothing and going to school the next day doesn't provide much fodder for the blog. But, a few things have happened. These week I was treated with my brother Holland's presence. Since he is the Dixie recruiter for our area he stayed here for two days while he made the rounds to all of the high schools. It was fun to hang out. One night while he was here I had a party for the high school club I advise. We had a great time entertaining my students, playing games, and trying out the new Beatles Rockband that one of my students was kind enough to bring for our playing enjoyment. I keep trying to think of reasons not to buy a gaming system and then I remember that it would probably take over my life. :) So it was fun to have Holland here.

School is going fine. I went to the football game tonight and had something funny happen. I am in charge of the Junior class fundraiser for prom, and one of my students came to get me when they were finished selling things in order for me to take the cash box. Apparently I was sitting near his mom and grandma (who is just here visiting. she's not from town.). Later I was walking around the bleachers and walked past this same student with his mom and grandma in tow. My student (who is a boy) says, "Ms. Olsen, I have a funny story." I said, "Yeah? What's that?" He looks at his grandma and says, "Nevermind. I'll tell you Monday." Of course my curiosity is peeked and I urge him to tell me. My student's mom chimes in. When he came to get me for the money box, his grandma asked my student's mom if I was the girl he had asked to Homecoming. I guess my student's mom told grandma that I was his teacher. She seemed pretty embarrassed about it, but I laughed pretty hard. I told her it was fine, that I am still fairly young. Anyway, I thought it was funny and yet another example of why sometimes it's awkward being a young, single teacher. Ah the stories I can tell. But hey, it makes me glad that I can still pass as a high school student. That's why I dress up at school. Otherwise nothing would prevent me from blending right in.

Not much else is going on. I am going to the State Fair tomorrow with my friend Kassie. I have never been, so it should be fun. I posted pictures from our fun night at the Sanpete County Fair. We went to the rodeo with my other friends (and Kassie's sister and brother-in-law) Mike and Lacey. We had a blast.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to the Routine

Man, I need to update my blog. Hi. I'm Arti and this is my blog (a version of what I say to my students to start class). Anyway. Things are good. School started Monday of this week, so life continues (whether I'm ready or not). I've met all my students and we've done some work together. Boring. No really, it's been a fun few days. I picked up College English in my class schedule, which means I am teaching some fairly elite seniors. When I met with them on Wednesday, it felt like an honest to goodness college English class. It felt really good to know that they were keeping up with me. Plus I could refer to things from last year and they got the reference. Teaching seniors is going to be a blast.
All my other classes are going pretty well. We are on a block A/B schedule this year so it is weird that I don't see my students everyday. I feel like I hardly know them, but we've been in session a week. Weird.
In other news, the Browns (the couple I've been living with) went to the MTC last week. They're headed to Ghana, Africa. I think they are stopping by this weekend before they head to the airport and fly away for two years. It's been crazy without them around. Much quieter, and the food isn't quite so good :) In fact I've only really cooked once. Thank heavens for left overs, and Kassie's kind siblings.
Last weekend was the first Jim Olsen family reunion. My brother Bret did a great job getting us all together for a great camping/hiking weekend. We hiked through Orderville Canyon and down through the narrows, approx. 10 miles. It could have been a 13 mile hike but we got a lift from some nice people from Delta. They drove us on this wicked dirt road that consists of the first 2-3 miles of the hike. Kharma. The hike was beautiful. I always forget how beautiful that part of Utah is until I'm smack-dab in the middle of it. Bret, Lori, their scout friends Ryan and Brent took the lead on the hike and left Cody, Kim and me in the dust. We figure that we're very different kinds of hikers, and I'm still amazed at how sure-footed Lori is. (I try to blame it on my little legs, but that excuse only goes so far.) We had a blast though. Bret and Cody coached me through my first ever repelling experience, and then we did it again. I got a little bruised up when I fell of a log, but other than that made it through unscathed. Naturally, I've been walking gingerly ever since, but what can you do? Thanks to Mom, Dad, and Holland for watching the little ones while we hiked. It really was a great weekend.
Not much else is coming up. In fact, I'm looking forward to staying home for a while to relax from my busy summer and August. We'll see how that goes. I always seem to find something to fill my time with. Which reminds me. I've got a storage unit to empty. Anyone want some junk? Let me know.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Final Days

My classes ended yesterday, and I hardly know what to do with myself. Just kidding. I totally took a nap this morning and loved it. Classes went well. I learned more than I imagined and will be a better teacher now because of Bread Loaf. People have been leaving in droves the last day and a half. I've said goodbye to some pretty great people, and I'm a little sad. I have mixed feelings about me still being here. I am happy to get a few days to relax and enjoy the Vermont countryside, but I am also really anxious to go home. I've missed my family and the Browns too. I have to stay until Saturday because I'm on the dining hall wait staff. There isn't much work for us until Saturday night. We have to serve at the graduation banquet. I hear the ceremony is pretty cool, but it will be nice to get on the road. My mom is flying in on Saturday morning to drive back with me. She'll only be here that day, but I already have lots of plans for us. So much to see, so little time.
Anyway, Mom has the drive planned out but we should be back in Utah on the 11th, and I'll be in Gunnison on the 12th. The Browns (the couple I live with) are leaving for their mission on the 17th. I'm sure their family will be around and that will be fun to see everyone. I can't believe there is so little time between my arrival and their departure. It will be sad to say goodbye to my second family.
School starts the 24th and there has been an adjustment to my teaching schedule. Snow College has agreed to let me teach College English at the high school. I am so excited and have been planning curriculum since I heard the news. It will be great to have see the Seniors in class again.
In short, I'm stoked to be coming home in a few days. I really can't wait to see the Utah Mountains and the faces of my family and friends. See you soon!

The pictures above are of some of the people I've met here. A few from the Suppressed Desires dance (you dress as your suppressed desire. Yes the costumes were creative). But most of them are from the wait staff reception. The school through us a cocktail party where we got dressed up and the faculty served us instead of us serving everyone. It was a lot of fun. The planners were even considerate of the fact that I don't drink. They had sparkling cider :) My Mormon friend John and I really appreciated it. We had a blast and took many pictures.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bottled Water: 98% Melted Ice Caps. 2% Polar Bear Tears

Okay, so my roommate gets the New York Times everyday, and we read this the other day. is all about alerting people to the benefits of drinking tap water and not drinking bottled water. It's very eco-aware. Anyway, this new ad campaign is hil-ar-ious. I've put a link below to the article that is on the actual website for the tappening campaign. Teh article has the other slogans, but two of my favorites: 1)Bottled Water is the Primary Cause of Restless Leg Syndrome

And 2)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nearly there

I just want to say that I have two weeks left of this beautiful place in Vermont! Classes end officially on Wednesday but both of my projects are due before that. I have one due Friday and the other on Monday, which means I can hike and play for almost a full week. Both of my projects are coming along fine and one I am especially excited to complete. I met a girl here named Heather. She is from North Carolina and teaches juniors (mostly African American) there too. We talked one afternoon and decided to put together a class exchange where my juniors and her juniors communicate with one another and even work together on a few things throughout the year. So far, we have come up with some great ideas and I can't wait to put them into effect. Don't worry, it hasn't caused any extra work. We are using it as our project for one (and a half) of our classes. I really hope my students enjoy the process. I can't even begin to imagine how much they could potentially learn from all this.
Working on all of this curriculum stuff has really got me thinking about the coming school year. I really miss my students and can't wait to get back to my regular life. Also, I've been away from my family for a pretty long time. I guess it's only been two months, but somehow the distance makes it seem harder to be away. Most of my family gathered in Pine Valley this last weekend, and for some reason I always get a little homesick over the 24th of July. It must have to do with the many memories and years of traditional family get-togethers. I haven't been for three years now, and with this master's program it looks like I won't make it for another four. So summer of 2014 look for me on the Pine Valley mountain. I'll be there. Anyway, wish me luck on the final push, and you'll find me back in Utah in two weeks from tomorrow (regardless of the luck wishing I'll be there. It's not like I won't come home if you don't wish me luck. Ah, I love language.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ginny Weasley and the Half-Written Heroine

I watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and wrote this after much thought and consideration to one of my favorite characters in Book 6. Don't worry there are no spoilers, so read and comment. I'd love to hear what people think about this.

Word. What happened to Ginny Weasley? After watching the sixth installment of the Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, I have to question some of the choices made by screenplay writer Steve Kloves and director David
Yates. The feat of trying to turn a book that gives readers the chance to imagine the impossible into a movie seems daunting. I recognize that things must change to allow the writers to cram an intense story into two-ish hours for a typical audience with a short attention span.

Also, I have never been one to advocate the comparison of movie adaptations to their original texts. Undoubtedly the book is always better, but both can be entertaining when appreciated separately.

The Half-Blood Prince was entertaining and by many accounts a great film. I laughed. I cried. I got frustrated. But mostly I wondered why Ginny Weasley was portrayed in the film as a domesticated, subservient female. Granted my English graduate courses could be tainting my thought process, but I think something is going on here.

Throughout the series, J.K. Rowling hardly ever writes a weak female character. All of them seem to be wand-waiving, danger-facing, opinion-stating women. Hermione Granger is characterized as the top of her class and is just as brave as Harry Potter. Bellatrix Lestrange is second only to Voldemort in her evil nature and heartlessness. Mrs. Weasley is daring, strong, and powerful as the mother figure of the story.

In the books, Ginny Weasley is written as an equal to Harry Potter. She is a devil-may-care kind of girl with ambition, determination, strength and talent. Ginny knows what she wants and she usually takes it. In fact, she is the one that initiates an actual relationship with Harry.

In the movie, however, Ginny loses her backbone. We see one moment of strength when she calls the Quidditch team to attention, but after this, she becomes a servant to Harry. While the following scenes are meant to be romantic, they come off only as awkward and forced. When Harry goes to the Weasley’s house for Christmas, Ginny hand feeds Harry a piece of tart. It does set up a rather funny scenario with Ron Weasley and is sort of romantic, but could it instead imply that Ginny is a tart herself? She later bends to Harry’s feet and ties his shoe for him. Weird? Yes! In one of the longest scenes they have together, Ginny helps Harry hide his potions book. Acting as a soft-spoken temptress, she sneaks a kiss and disappears.

Maybe these sorts of things are secret desires of a young man’s heart, but shoelace tying doesn’t seem very appealing when a real interaction between Ginny and Harry could have been written to show the real connection between them. The pizzazz Ginny has written into her character virtually disappears in the film (pun intended). The once strong, independent young woman turns into the handmaiden of the Chosen One. I, for one, don’t buy it. While other critics call attention to a passionless performance from Daniel Radcliffe, or praise the movie for its artful directing, I want to call attention the absence of our daring female love interest.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Quick trip to Montreal

Bonjour mon ami! Here at Bread Loaf things are crazy awesome. Thankfully the school gave us a day off this week as a sort of midterm vacation. Friday we had no classes, and I didn't have any wait staff responsibilities in the dining hall. So what did I do? That's right: Canada or bust baby! Montreal is only about three hours north of Middlebury, so I took my passport, my roommate, and a friend who speaks French with me Friday morning and we came back Saturday afternoon. Montreal is a beautiful city. We got into town, checked into our hostel and started seeing the sites. My friend that speaks French, Evelyn, has spent some time in Canada and knew all the things to see. So we didn't waste any time in tourist traps. Okay, maybe that's all we did. We hiked to the top of Mount Royal that looks over the entire city-scape. Pictures are above. The hike wasn't easy. Lots of stairs and lots of pausing, but definitely worth the view. After we got our fill of picture taking and resting, we hiked back down the mountain, caught the metro and went to Vieux-Montreal. For those of you who don't know, that means Old Montreal. Don't worry I had no idea either. Anyway, this is the part of town that apparently resembles Europe. It has cobble streets, giant cathedral, a quaint town square, and lots of cute stores. This is the part of town we spent most of our time seeing. We shopped, ate in a street cafe, and shopped some more. The people watching was a lot of fun too. We kept trying to guess who was a tourist and who was a local. We walked to a few historical sites for photos, but mostly we looked in at art galleries, souvenir shops, and the maple history museum. (No joke, but it was closed.) We took a tour of Norte Dame and all its beauty. We even got to hear the bells chime at the hour.
Sadly, it was a rather quick trip. I got just enough of the city to make me love it and to make me jealous of people who speak second languages. Now I have added French to my bucket list of things to learn in my life time. We left the city after lunch, and took our time coming home. Burlington, Vermont is the biggest city near Middlebury and is on the shore of Lake Champlain. We decided to stop there for a look at the lake and crepes. MMMmmmm lemon and sugar. While we were there, we thought we could drive over to the Ben and Jerry's factory for a tour. It goes a different way around to Middlebury than the direct route. Anyway, we drove for a while before we realized I probably made a wrong turn somewhere (my roommate was navigating so I'm not completely culpable). We were on the right road to get to Middlebury, but missed the factory along the way somehow. Once we figured we were pretty lost, we stopped at this place "Maynard's Snack Shack" to ask for directions. It was the only sign of civilization we could see. A couple of patrons told us the factory was back the way we came, but that the ice cream at Maynard's was homemade and better than anything we could get at B&J's. He also told us Maynard would give us a tour if we asked nicely. It really was a nice little mom and pop type establishment. I laughed when I saw a sign near their daily specials that read: We sell mulch hay. How small town is that?
Anyway, after a nice visit with Mrs. Maynard we ordered some maple creamies (which is what they call soft serve ice cream here) and got on our way.
The rest of the drive home was phenomenal. Route 100 took us straight through the heart of the Green Mountain National Forest. We stopped along the way for attractions like a covered bridge and a magnificent waterfall. I decided I will take my mom through that way when she flies out to drive home with me. I really can't say enough about the beauty.
Anyway, I'm on the home stretch of school. Both of my big papers are due in two weeks and school is out the 5th of August. I can't believe that it's already here. I've had such a great experience studying with such brilliant minds and learning some tricks from other young English teachers. I hope you enjoy the pictures in the slide show above and some new music. Au revior!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Julia Alvarez

So, here I am lost in my own academic pursuits brushing shoulders with some of the most intelligent people in the world, and people keep surprising me. No joke most of the professors here are "known" for something. I can't get over it. You've already seen my mention of Paul Mulldoon. Today I heard about this meeting for the teaching network that Bread Loaf runs. I'm interested, so I attended. Anyway, I walk in and guess who is there? Julia Alvarez, the Julia Alvarez. If you don't know her, I've got a link to her website. She wrote How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents among other works. She graduated from Bread Loaf and comes to hang out on campus a lot apparently. So, yeah. I'm flabbergasted to say the least. This is going down as a pretty cool day.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vermont Photos

Okay, like I've mentioned, Bread Loaf is incredibly beautiful. I've been on a few hikes: one to Lake Pleiad and another to Silver Lake. Yesterday I got sick of doing homework so I went for a little walk through nature. There is a mysterious path across the street from the Inn that I have wanted to explore. It leads down to a gorgeous little area of river. I took pictures and wanted to post. Plus it wasn't raining then so I was a good time to be out and about. Enjoy the greenery.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Rainy Vermont Says Happy Fourth

Alright, if you haven't noticed my many status changes on Facebook, I am having a great time in Vermont. Everyday there is something new to do. Most of the week we are all bunkered down doing homework and reading in various places on campus, but when the weekend gets here, these people know how to have a good time. I've square danced, hiked, watched fireworks, swum in lakes, met lots of cool people and so much more. Oh, I've learned a lot too. My classes are enlightening. One is on the 20th Century African American Narrative and the other is titled The Language Wars. Mostly we've been talking about language loss of some cultures and peoples and the idea that cultural and language diversity can be useful as teachers and to individuals. Anyway, I'm enjoying all the geek talk about books and language. They are keeping me pretty busy too with reading and a few papers coming up this week. I love being a student again.
The weather has been unusually wet this week. Even though it has rained a little or a lot everyday, a group of us were hopeful ad anxious that the sun would come out long enough for a hike yesterday. The sun never came out, but we got out anyway. We hiked to Silver Lake in the rain and swam in the rain too. The lake was beautiful and it wasn't cold at all. I had so much fun sloshing around in my Chacos knowing no matter what I couldn't get much more wet so why avoid the puddles. We went on a different hike the weekend before as well to a different lake: Lake Pleiad. It was much smaller than Silver Lake, but the water was lovely and the sun was shining then. I am slowly, well not so slowly-I've only been here two weeks, falling in love with this place. It is green and the atmosphere is amazing. No where else in the world could I be hanging out with a bunch of cool (you might say nerdy) English teachers and talk about books, students, schools, classes, and Harry Potter. It's incredible.
To celebrate the Fourth of July a few of us drove to a nearby town, Bristol, and watched fireworks. It was a nice small town but they put on a really good show. I feel like a little girl every time I watch fireworks. I guess that is why I love the 4th of July so much. It's raining today, but that is okay. I'll be inside doing research and reading all day anyway. That is until the dance starts at 9. I love this place. Happy Fourth everyone. Here's to hoping your day is sunny, warm, and full of friend and family fun. (check out that alliteration). ********

Friday, June 26, 2009

Run in with Fame-ishness

Okay, just to give some perspective about where I am, I just want to post about one of the professors here at Bread Loaf. He won the Pulitzer Prize. He was on the Colbert Report and he gave a reading of poetry last night at the first kegger of the summer. (Yes, I went, but don't judge me. I went for the poetry?) He has an official website and below is also the video clip of the Colbert Report. Granted I knew nothing about him before coming here, but now that I'm here it's awesome. So many of the professors are widely renowned authors, teachers, and academics. Anyway, I think it's cool. I'm not in his class, but I did serve him yesterday or breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Where in the World?

I know my actual GPS coordinates seem to be ever changing, but as of Monday I find myself staying relatively stationary. I left Washington DC on Sunday and arrived at Bread Loaf School of English campus in Vermont on Monday for the new student orientation. I don't really know where to start in telling of my travels. I'm so "in the moment" here, it seems like OBX and DC were so long ago. Anyway, the week following all my sunny beaches and relaxing days in North Carolina, my friend Kassie and I drove further north to spend some time in Washington, DC. My Uncle Doug and Aunt Sara were kind enough to let us stay at their place for the week. Kassie and I had a great time. Granted I got grumpy while driving, but if you've ever tried to navigate the streets in Washington you might feel my pain. But once we got the hang of things (thank goodness for the Metro) we started knocking out the tourist sites. We went to all the museum and monuments we could. We even drove out one day to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. It was all so much fun and fairly educational. My favorite place of the trip was probably the National Museum of the American Indian. Not only was it nice that it is brand new so not a lot of school tours were there, but it also had so much enriching information about culture and the plight of the American Indian (if I'm allowed to call it that). I was fascinated. Everything seemed representative down to the layout and architecture of the building. We also ate in the cafeteria that featured authentic dishes to different regions and tribes throughout North and South America. Awesome!
Once all the site seeing was through, I took Kassie to the airport on Friday. I hope she wasn't too worn out from all the traveling. Sometimes vacation can be so tiring :) Maybe we should go again.
Grandma and Grandpa Snow came back to DC from Delaware on Friday and flew out Saturday. It was fun to spend some time with them before they flew out. Doug and Sara had a great dinner on Friday night with G&G Snow as well as Sara's parents. I had never met them before so that was fun too. On Saturday I spent the afternoon/evening with my friend Casey. I know him from my last two summers at camp. He joined the Navy and is stationed in Arlington, so it was great to spend time with an old friend too. Overall the week was amazing and I can't begin to thank Doug and Sara enough for their hospitality. They did so much for me.
On Sunday, they sent me on my way with my atlas in hand and a route to follow (it was pretty twisty and windy with all the road switches). I stayed over in Newburgh, NY for the night and finished the trip on Monday after paying nearly 25 dollars in tolls along the way. I had no idea that Northern New York and Vermont are so beautiful. The word beautiful doesn't even begin to capture it though. For the first time on the trip I felt home again as I saw mountains on the horizon. And even though there are lots of trees, I also didn't feel trapped by them like in other parts of the U.S. The campus here is an old Inn converted into a college campus. It has many side buildings for housing and one for classrooms. We also have a theater were the Acting Ensemble will put on The Changeling for us at the end of the summer. I'll take pictures soon and post them.
Classes have been great and most of the students here are teachers as well. Out of the 250 students, about 90 percent of them are teachers. It is awesome to get the chance to do so much collaboration. I am also on the wait staff here, which adds its own element of interestingness. I work every meal for about an hour and a half. So far it seems like just as I start to get something done after a meal I am back in the dining hall. Though, I can't complain too much. The food here is nothing less than gourmet and I'm being introduced to foods that I've only ever heard about. Also, the rest of the wait staff is so much fun. We are forming our own great little bond.
So moral of the story, I am certainly enjoying myself. I feel extremely blessed to be in this situation. Be advised I have no cell reception, but we do have campus wide wi fi if you ever want to email. Well, love from Bread Loaf Mountain :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Outer Banks (OBX), North Carolina

So here I am on the first leg of my summer adventures. This week I have been in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Jealous? Yeah, you should be. My mom's family is having a family reunion out here and it has been great. Most of the family got here last Saturday, but my friend Kassie and I got here Monday. We drove across the country in just about 49 hours. It wasn't too bad, but I'm glad I won't have to do it again until August. All week we have been sitting in the sun and working on my tan. Earlier I described myself as having pasty English teacher skin, but now I'm a little bit tanish. We are staying in a huge house right on the beach. Literally we have our own private boardwalk to the ocean. I've never been IN the Atlantic before, and I'm willing to come again any day. It is glorious. We've been boogie boarding and body surfing everyday the water is so nice. Also, Kill Devil Hills has a lot of other attractions. It's home to the Wright Brother's Monument and Museum. Apparently, the brothers didn't fly out of Kitty Hawk on their first flight; they flew in Kill Devil Hills. I learned a lot so ask away.
One day we drove out to Cape Hatteras, the home to a super famous lighthouse (see slideshow). Kassie was like a kid on Christmas. We could barely keep her in the car in the parking lot. She was already out the door taking pictures. We read up on the history of the Cape. They call it the Graveyard of the Atlantic because so many ships have met their end on the shallow waters of the coast. Also there are some really cool stories about Blackbeard the pirate and all his Bootie.
Last night we celebrated my cousin McKenna's birthday and went out dancing. I've never been to a bar/club before, so it was an enlightening experience. It made me super grateful for Utah's indoor clean air policies. We bailed at about 1 when we were all danced out and getting sick of the crowd. Overall, I had a pretty good time being one of the only sober people in the room.
Today is my last full day here. Needless to say I won't be much longer before I'm out on the beach soaking in the last rays of Carolina sun and sand. We check out tomorrow and Kassie and I head for Washington DC for a week. My uncle Doug and Aunt Sara are going to let us stay with them for a few days while we see the sights. They are so nice. So, be prepared for more updates, and more photos (with tan instead of pasty skin).

Friday, May 15, 2009


It's G-Day today and I forgot how much I love it. The day started off with an assembly where the students watched a year end video that one of my students and I put together. It was a big hit and I am super proud of it. I'd post it, but it's like 37 minutes long. We distributed books after all the students did service projects around the valley. But the best part of the day is the softball tournament after school. The faculty plays the winning class team. We played my juniors, just like we played my juniors last year. It was great. We lost in the final inning but I had a great time smelling the dirt and sliding in it too. After the game was over I got a cooler of water dumped over my head too. A few of my students were harassing me the other day and I may have mentioned it to my fellow teacher Mr. Johnson. He went ahead and used his shocker on them for me. Needless to say my students swore revenge. After the game one student kind of corralled me into position. (I know what he was doing now, but not at the time of course). A couple of students snuck up behind me and totally soaked me. It was hilarious. Good thing I like these guys otherwise, things could have been ugly. Just kidding. All in good fun, right? So G-day is over and now I can concentrate on grading. YAY!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Keane Concert

As usual, I feel like I am as busy as ever. School is winding down, but that just means lots of grading and lots of yearbook stress. I'm ready for summer to start, even though I think I might miss my students eventually. :) No, but this Friday is G-day, or what we use as our final school hoorah. It's also the day yearbooks are distributed. We (I) decided it would be nice to sell a companion DVD along with the books this year and of course creating it has been eating up my time for what feels like years. However, despite all the troubles, I officially passed it off to Mr. Johnson (our school techy) along with a bag full of chocolate as a bribe to entice him to help me finish converting to dvd worthy file. He handed me the finished copy today, and I am ecstatic!!! Now I just have to sell the things and I'm through. *epic sigh of relief

Anyway, I've been busy with other stuff too. Last weekend I finally got to throw Amber her Bridal Shower Bash. It was a Movie themed shower and I think it went over pretty well. I am more and more discovering my overplanning tendnecies, but the good news is I have treats to share with my students on our extra credit movie night (we just finished reading A Raisin in the Sun). So, they get extra credit and candy. How sweet is that! Anyway, there are a few of our paparazzi photos in the slide show. Thanks again, Amber, for letting me have an excuse to party.

I also invited my mom down for Mother's Day. It just so happens that I had to speak in a different ward that Sunday too. We went to the Single's Branch and then skipped over to the different sacrament meeting. I hear I did pretty well. My students in the ward didn't give me too much grief. It was great to have Mom here. Kassie and I cooked dinner here at the Browns'. Love you, Mom!

Also, Holland graduated. The whole family was there. Bret and Lori (my brother and sister-in-law) just bought a house and spent most of the time fixing it all up. I got a lot of niece and nephew time in, but not much sibling time. I'm going to try and make it to St. George one more time before I leave for the summer. There are also some pictures in the slideshow. I especially love the one's of Aiden in the water fountain. That kid has no fear.

Last night I went to a concert at Kingsbury Hall that was amazing. I bought the tickets months ago and nearly forgot until a week ago. Keane was the headline band. They are a fairly popular British band that got big here a few years ago. I saw them in concert in, like, 2005 but they haven't been back since. They have really matured as a band though, and their show was 10 times better now than before. That's saying a lot since they were pretty good before too. In fact, I would say they are better live than on cd, but Tom Chaplin (lead singer) has so much energy that the songs change when he's up there dancing around. Anyway,I got an extra bonus while at the concert too. I was just mentioning to my friend Kassie--she was kind enough to come along without knowing the band-- about who the opening band might be. The girl next to me heard and said it was supposed to be Mat Kearny. Now I like Keane, but I love Mat Kearny. I was thrilled, and the news completely made my night. He's got a new album coming out on the 19th. He played a few new tracks and I'm super impressed. It gets better and better. Above you may notice a new playlist with a mixture of my favorite songs from the evening. I didn't have a camera or a working phone, so no pictures, but if you don't know either band I promise they won't disappoint.

Now I'm getting ready for the end of school and the beginning of summer. I have a busy three or four weeks: two weddings, boy scout camp, and lots of packing to do for North Carolina and Vermont. Plus I have a fairly intimidating stack of books to read before school starts. I guess I should get right on that . . .

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spring Photos

Here are some of those pics I talked about in the previous post.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Busy Spring

So I haven't blogged in a while (funny how many of us start our blogs that way). But it's true. Spring is usually a pretty busy time for people and school has been especially crazy lately. The yearbook is d-o-n-e done. I took our insert to the printer yesterday. Of course we'll have to go through the proofing process, but for the most part I'm done. It's been a stressful year for me. I know I just need to calm down, and let things happen. I guess I have trust/control issues. Next year should be better. I think I get better every year, so here's to lucky year number 3 :)

Anyway, you might ask what has been keeping me busy, but for the most part I can't think of anything. I did have a dance recital last weekend that I have been practicing two or three times a week for the last month. I started clogging again this year with the Performance Clogging class and my friend Kassie. I'm not as good as I remember, but I sure have a good time whether I can keep a beat or not (hehe). My mom and dad drove down for one of the performance nights. I think they had a pretty good time. No matter how I did, Jeanna's Dance Works puts on a pretty great show. We have some amazingly talented dancers. I'll post pictures soon when I get my cord and camera in the same place.

Other than that, I've been watching baseball, doing relief society things, Core testing, and planning a bridal shower of my dear cousin. I keep thinking of these cool ideas, so I am pretty stoked about it.

Next up: Holland, my younger (not little) brother, is graduating from Dixie State College in St. George. I'll take any excuse to hang out with my family, so I'm driving down to watch him do his thing. I even got a sub. Man, I must love that guy. :) After that is a busy Mother's Day. I am throwing a shower on Saturday, but bringing my mom down to my young single's branch on Sunday. Kassie and I are making dinner for our moms after church, so hopefully we think of something good. I haven't really had to cook since I moved in with the Browns. The next week is the week yearbooks get delivered, and we distribute them on G-day. Hopefully everything runs smoothly. I don't really want to be a space case :) After that, my first set of students graduate from high school and can therefore call me Arti. They are awaiting the privilege anxiously. I'm beginning to think I'll miss them.
I can't believe how quickly summer is approaching with its own set of adventures.
So much is coming so quickly, but I guess it will give me a lot to blog about. Later.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring is coming?

So it snowed today again, and I am getting bummed. Last Saturday the entire Brown family was in town (the people I currently live with) and I spent the morning outside babysitting 20 ish grand kids. Don't worry, there were a couple of other kids (students of mine and neighbors) helping out. They are such good kids and we had a blast. I love the Browns-- all of them. I didn't think about sun screen so most of us got sun kissed, but now I'm ready for the sun to be out all the time. We had a baseball double header yesterday, but it rained so I didn't go. And I am currently sitting inside on a Friday with nothing to do. If the sun were out, I could come up with a million things. I guess I'll go grade papers, or nap, or watch a movie. Yeah, that sounds just about as boring as life can get. Spring! Where are you?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I found my PHONE!!

I lost my phone more than a week ago. I thought I left it somewhere at the Prom and that maybe someone helped me lose it (like took it). I've been wandering around for 10 days using my old phone that only works a few hours at a time. I lost most of my phone numbers that I have collected over the last 8 months, my inauguration recordings, and many pictures. Tonight was my ward's Relief Society Birthday Party. I went over to the church to start setting things up. The Sunday after Prom I put a bunch of plates, napkins, and decorations in the closet. Anyway, I was emptying said bags tonight and low and behold, my phone is resting at the bottom of the bag. I looked to the Heavens and thanked the Lord. What luck! I am so glad I didn't buy a new one yet. I've been coming up with various schemes on how not to spend too much money on a good phone. I love how things work out. I lost it, but now I've found it! I am over-joyed. So call me, text me, whatever! I'll recognize the number AND it will stay charged for more than a day!!!!! Life is good. I just love the small joys in life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I love Baseball season!

Aww, the smell of dirt and grass, the crack of the bat, the endless anticipation . . . I love baseball and am so glad that the season is finally here. Today the Gunnison Bulldogs played against the number 1 ranked Richfield Wildcats. (Don't ask me why they were ranked first when the Bulldogs are 2 time State Champions). I didn't make the whole game but got there for the last three innings. We played well, and ended up winning by two, even though we started the 7th inning tied. Richfield had last at bats and we held their runner on third while we got two more outs. I know lots of you don't care about baseball, or at least my team, but this was my first game of the season. It brought back all my memories of why I love baseball so much. So here's hoping for a three-peat.

In other news, I busted my cheaters yesterday. I had them all stay after class. Only one student tried to deny it, which is good. I'd hate to have to fight over a lie. Anyway, most of them are pretty repentant, and I guess I've made them feel guilty enough that hopefully they won't try it again. I know you were all hoping for some parent drama, but I got nothing. Dang. (jk I'm stoked about that part).

Also, I have been debating about whether or not I am really going to do the Vermont school thing. I got accepted yes, but I haven't been sure about the financial stuff. Paying for it will be hard. Fortunately, I paid my tithing on Sunday and got a letter Monday telling me I am getting a grant for financial aid. Yipee! Oh me of little faith. Things always work out the way they should. That whole counsel about "He will provide a way" totally worked out for me. But that means I'll be in Vermont this summer. I haven't decided how to go out there. I am planning on going to the Snow family reunion to North Caroline the second week of June. School starts the last week of June, so maybe I'll drive out and hang out on the East Coast for a week. It will be hard, but I'll find a way to suffer through (hehehe).

Enjoy my baseball songs. They are a little more upbeat than "Liar, Liar"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Room full of lies

Hey everyone. I love the last week of the quarter at school. All those students who have been failing all quarter start asking questions like, "Is there anything I can do to raise my grade?" Part of me really wants to laugh in their faces and say, "Yes! You could have done some of your homework, say, four weeks ago." But I can't say that, well not just that (hehehe). I do try to be a little helpful. For instance, I assign a book report every quarter and give student the entire quarter to do it. It is designed to be a grade booster. If they are failing, it is worth enough to get them a D, but if they have an A and don't do it, they'll probably end up with a B/C. It kind of sucks, I know, but not a lot I can do about it now. It really helps the struggling students, and my A students usually do it anyway. So, I got to reading some of the book reports this week, and starting thinking how much my student's writing has improved. Then in one paper, I saw a word that there is no way my student knew how to use properly. I googled the sentence and low and behold, the entire book summary showed up. Plagiarized. Busted. I kept reading and found 8 plagiarized book reports. I can't begin to tell you how angry I felt. I wanted to call all their parents right them and nail them to the wall. However, I know that when I remove myself from a situation like this, I will gain better perspective. The next morning, I realized that yes, I am mad about it, but now I am just hurt. Where's the trust?

In the last year or two, I have come to realize how important honesty is to me. I rather hear the hurtful truth than be hurt by placating lies. Just tell me what I don't want to hear, please. I mean maybe we don't all get trapped in lies, but when we do, don't we tend to look back and think, "I should have just told the truth from the beginning." On Friday I lectured all my students to that effect. I just want them to realize that grades shouldn't be worth sacrificing integrity. All year I have built this relationship with my students. I trust them, and hopefully they trust me to know what I'm doing. But now how do I look at some of these kids who cheated and not remember the broken trust. How do they come back from that? Obviously, I'm too attached, and that I am sure is a rookie mistake. After a few years maybe I won't care so much about my students. In the meantime, though, I feel lied to.

So that is my week, and the moral to the story. Don't lie. Even in the worst situation, telling the truth will at least leave us with our integrity in the end, and I hope people value that as much as I do.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Long Time No Post

So if anyone is wondering whether or not I have fallen of the face of the earth, that assumption might not be far off. Mostly I assume no one wondered, but just in case you have, here is what I have been up to the last couple weeks. Since Presidents' Day, I have been keeping myself fairly busy. I am one of the advisors for the junior prom and I spent the last two weeks planning assemblies and decorating our gym with the help of a lot of students. It was kind of a lot of work, but fun work with the kids. We also had Region Speech last week. Gunnison hosted so our speech coach asked for my help judge and what not. I also coach a couple of public forum debate teams, so the last two weeks have also been spent going to school early to talk about No Child Left Behind, good and bad. I got up Monday, as in yesterday, and didn't have to go to school at 7 for the first time in a long time. I almost didn't know what to do with my extra time. :) Fortunately though, one of my teams qualified for state and was one of the top five teams by the final round. I am really proud of my debaters.
Anyway, that is all over now. I haven't even been on the internet at home to check blogs or facebook for nearly two weeks. I am so out of touch. Plus, I lost my phone at the Prom. At first I thought it wouldn't be a big deal, but then I realized I have a whole bunch of new numbers that I don't know anymore because they are on my missing phone. I am thinking of offering a reward just in case some one "accidentally" took my phone. As a teacher, I wouldn't put it past one of my students to play a prank on my like this. But, it has been four days and no ransom notes yet. I guess we'll see. I figure I can successfully bribe info out of my students. hehehe.
So, enjoy the new playlist, and I'll get pictures of the prom up as son as I remember to take my flash drive to school. Until then.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


So I have been grading papers, and I just want to make anyone who cares aware that there is a difference between 'than' and 'then'. If you say 'if' before it, then you need to use 'then'. If it is a sequence of events, such as, "First we, then we," then you use 'then.' If, however, you are talking about an amount, then you use 'than'. For instance, "I want more soup than that." "I was hoping for a higher score than this." "You did better in that contest than he did." All examples of when to use 'than' instead of 'then'.
Sorry I'll dismount from this soapbox. Tomorrow I'll talk about nouns of direct address and threw vs. through. That's a tricky one ;) Gotta luv hi scool!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Loverly Weekend

I am back from St. George, and I had a really good time. As usual Bret and Lori were great hosts, and Faye was quite accommodating. We did a lot. Obviously we karaoked, but on Saturday we hiked a little bit in Snow Canyon in the late morning. The sunshine lasted and made my weekend. I ate a lot of food with a lot of family, and I even got to do a little shopping. I only ended up buying something for my nephew, Parker, whose birthday is tomorrow. He'll be three can you believe it? Neither can I. I bought him some cute pants and can't believe how tall he should be these days. Oh, I also bought a bridesmaid dress for Amber's wedding, my cousin. I remember the last time I shopped for dresses for a wedding it took us months to find something. Our luck was great though. We found something today that will be perfect for all the girls and the colors. I also got to have breakfast with my good friend Cassey and her husband Landon. They took me to a place exactly my style. They know me too well. :) The weekend ended with some great bowling where I won the second game. I don't think that has ever happened before. Now I am exhausted and not ready for tomorrow. I guess I'll go prepare the vocabulary worksheets for the week now. Thank heavens for President's Day though. It comes at the perfect time when people need a day off. Happy President's Day!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kuala Pork and Karaoke: Arti-style

Hey, guess what? It is sunny in St. George! So much for snow, bwah-ha-ha.
So far the weekend has been a blast. I arrived in S.G Friday night and met up with Bret and Lori. Lori talked us into walking down to the Hawaiian Grill for Friday Night Karaoke. Yes, I did karaoke for those of you with raised eyebrows and questioning my bravery. We had a really good time. Lori picked some fun songs, starting off our singing with "Turn Around Bright Eyes" or "Total Eclipse of the Heart" for those of us who thought that was the actual title. ;) She also sang "Oops I did it Again." Bret and I signed up for "Sweet Caroline," and despite his total allegiance to the Angels I think he had fun singing the Red Sox anthem. Holland and Carly walked in just in time to see us in action, and everyone in the restaurant helped with the chorus. There weren't many patrons and most of the people there seemed to be employees, friends and regulars, but they welcomed us and even had us all do the "Electric Slide." We talked Holland and Carly into singing a song a piece: Holland "Hotel California" (a definite crowd pleaser); Carly "Wide Open Spaces." So that's how we finished off the night.

It was a blast. I will never nay-say Karaoke again. Enjoy the pictures and the play list of all our favorite songs of the night. If you want another view of the evening, check out Bret and Lori's blog. They tell it pretty good, too.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sunny St. George

It is so funny that I am in St. George this weekend. Apparently it is supposed to snow tomorrow, so of course Ibrought Chacos, shorts and hiking gear in stead of ski apparel. Bummer. I am staying with Bret and Lori and they are usually pretty accomodating. Bret often has a plan b up his sleeve. Mostly I am just glad to be here. I need a weekend off, as I am sure most of you feel too. Well, happy Friday the 13th, Valentines Day and President's Day. Here's to a weekend that is sunny and bright. :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hard Day

I know we all have them, but I had a hard day today (and judging from the statuses on Facebook it seems like a lot of people had a hard day too). I don't so much want to talk about it because I will just be doing what my students seem to be pro at: whining. Plus, I got to go this meeting after school and got some of the doom and gloom situation about the economy and what might happen to education. It scares me, and it makes me mad, but what can I do? And on top of it all, I found out I need one more stupid test to get my level 2 teaching license. I think I am personally making the Praxis people rich. Argh! It is hard to be an optimist sometimes with all the pessimism around and today the pessimists won. Congrats! (I was trying to think of a silver lining from today to add here for humor, but I got nothing. . .) But I guess tomorrow is another day. Until then, however, I'm going to be cantankerous (one of my students vocab words this week +1 for me). >:(

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mr. Congeniality

I took a quick trip to St. George this weekend to watch Holland run in the Mr. Dixie pageant. He was great. Honest, I am usually the first to give Holland a hard time, but he was fantastic. The contestants all participated in an opening dance number. Holland was FABULOUS. His facial expressions are something I will remember forever. He was pretty cute. For his talent, he caught various food items in his mouth-- one behind the back, another tossed by someone 30 feet away, etc. The audience really enjoyed it. His evening wear consisted of a smoking jacket (DI jacket turned inside out but looked snazzy) and a pipe that blew bubbles. During his question someone poked a tray through the turned and allowed him to refill his pipe so he could blow more bubbles. It was hilarious. At the end of the night, he didn't win the overall title, but he did get Mr. Congeniality. The whole thing was very entertaining. Bret, Lori, Faye, and I cheered and cat called all night for Holland and had a blast. 

On the way home, I had another adventure. I witnessed a motorcycle accident. I was driving north of Cedar when a motorcycle I had been playing leap frog with since the city was passing me at 80 mph. I looked over at him and imagined how cold it must be for him, when all of a sudden he looks like he is a x-games competitor. He veered off the road over the shoulder swerved into the snow and skid several fit on his bike. I pulled over immediately, thinking to myself that I am glad I am CPR certified, and ran to make sure he was okay. To my surprise and the surprise of several other drivers, he was fine. Seriously shaken up and upset about his bike, but fine. Another lady and I gathered up various things he had lost or thrown off in the tussle-- suitcase, side view mirror, part of a blinker, helmet, gloves, glasses-- while he tried to get his bike started again with the help of a two other guys. The police and EMT's showed up in really good time and checked the guy out. I filled out a witness report for the first time in my life, and hopefully the last. The highway patrol trooper asked me a few questions and let me go. It was crazy. I thought the guy would be seriously injured. Not many people can say they walked away from a motorcycle accident at 80 miles an hour. I am pretty sure the foot of snow on the side of the road saved his life, but he's a really lucky guy. 

Anyway, it was a crazy weekend. Oh, and maybe you want pictures of the pageant, but alas, Bret and Lori's camera was dead, and I left mine on my bed. Holland said someone taped it for him, so maybe we can get a copy and post it somewhere for all of you to see. Later-

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Grad School News

I guess the excitement continues. After news in my family of an engagement, a baby, inauguration fun and so much more, life continues to move  full speed. I got a letter yesterday letting me know I got accepted to my preferred grad school. It is called the Bread Loaf School of English and it is a program run by Middlebury College in Vermont. It is pretty prestigious. I hadn't heard of it before, but my Aunt Sara says it is a great school. That was confirmed by some people from Vermont I met on a bus in D.C. It is a summer 8 week program. You attend 4 or 5 summers and get your master's degree. The coolest part is they operate from four different campuses: Vermont, North Carolina, Santa Fe, and Oxford. I am elated. By going with this program, I can keep teaching the rest of the year in Gunnison and travel around the world in the summer. Now isn't the best time to give up a good job, so I am counting my blessing with this program. Plus it will be easier for me to pay for school if I'm working full time. I applied to two other programs and will probably wait a little bit to see if I hear back from them, but this program fits so well into my life right now that I think it is the smartest (and most adventurous) choice. I know a lot of you are rooting for me to find a husband and get married, and my chances of doing that while staying in Gunnison aren't high, but I really am happy here. I love my job and the kids I teach, and for now that is enough. 
Anyway, you know me. :) The next adventure has presented itself, and I'm off to greet it. I get to live in Vermont for 8 weeks-- a dream of mine since I visited there the summer after my senior year. It's funny how life works out so differently for different people. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration Photos!!

Okay Everyone! I'm back, and with quite a weekend finished. I'll breeze through the Albuquerque stuff and get to the good part though.
So I went to New Mexico for the Western Regional Leadership Conference for the NEA Friday through Sunday. I met some really cool people and learned a lot about the teacher's union. I am new to all of it and didn't know much, but I fed into all the propaganda and really believe in this stuff. The NEA is a pretty cool association with education needs and the needs of teachers at the center. I heard the head of NEA, Dennis Van Roekel, speak and it was amazing. He is quite a speech giver and had the whole audience on their feet by the end. So, pretty much I learned some neat things about the future of education and the need for the union.
I only got away from the hotel one night, so mom and I went to "Old Town." It's basically a tourist trap with Southwest-style souvenir shops and restaurants. We ate at a restaurant our cabdriver recommended, and it wasn't that great. The Mexican food we have here in Utah is much better.
Anyway, we got home Sunday and repacked for Washington D.C. With any early flight time, Mom and I got to the airport at 5 or so to get through security and everything. Once we landed in Baltimore, the adventure began. The airport had a booth specifically for helping people coming to town for the inauguration. Mom asked a helpful lady what we should do and got all the maps and information we could use. Outside the terminal, we needed to catch a bus to take us to the beginning of the Metro system. So we met our first line :)
People on the bus were really friendly. We caught onto the spirit and chatted with those around us. I met a guy from Boston, and a mother daughter pair from Vermont. They were all shocked to hear we flew in from Utah. I got talking to the Boston guy and he asked me about the church and, of course, Proposition 8. I couldn't dodge the question so I answered as best I could. It may not have been church approved, but I was honest and stuck up for the sanctity of marriage as best I could. That was the only Mormon question I got the whole time.
We got to the Metro station 30 minutes later and found our first "long" line. I'd say easily a thousand people were waiting in line to buy passes for the metro. Again, people were really nice. We met some people from North Carolina. Some random lady cut in line so we were complaining about it and became fast friends.
After standing in the wrong line for 30 minutes (we were in the line for one way rates and we wanted to buy day passes to use the next day) we bought enough fair to get us to Doug's stop and boarded a train. Anyway, we met more people and exchanged stories and hometowns with more people. Doug picked us up and drove us to his house where we met up with Sara and Cameron. Cameron is so much bigger than I saw her last, talking and giggling, and sweet as ever. I realized I haven't seen her since this time last year at my niece's blessing. We went to dinner and talked all evening. They are very good hosts.
Doug, Sara, Mom, and I packed up and bundled up the next morning and left for the metro at about 8. And then the real line standing and crowd fighting started. The crowds were insane and we got separated from Doug because they kept opening and closing the metro station. Police Officers would close off the entrance until the platform cleared of people and then they would let more people down. We finally got down to the platform and waited for a train. Five or so went by before we finally crammed in--literally-- to a train that could barely hold more people. Doug and Sara were able to get on a train before us because the people mom and I were shoving into flatly refused to let us on. Not taking no for an answer the next time, we barged our way in and were on our way. Now having a personal knowledge of what sardines feel like, we went from stop to stop until we got downtown. We caught up with Doug and Sara who were in line to get into the Silver standing area (that is what our tickets were for). The line was a good four blocks long and the inauguration was starting in an hour.
Depressed and feeling hopeless, Sara and I went exploring. People we talked to made it sound like we were never getting in. "The line is too long." "Security is no longer letting anyone in." "Even if you get in, you can't see." So we radioed (we remembered walkie-talkies and good thing too since there was hardly any cell phone service) Doug and mom to join us at the front of the line. I know it isn't honest, but I didn't fly in from Utah to stand in a never moving line and not see the inauguration. So we cut in line and shoved our way through. The crowd was literally body to body people. I've never been closer to people in my life, but no one didn't care. We all had the same goal in mind: getting into the inauguration. Once we forced our way through the security blocking area, we were jubilant. Jumping and screaming with joy. We had lost Doug somewhere and couldn't reach him, but we knew was in somewhere.
I stopped to use one of the 4000 port-a-potties, and mom and I lost Sara. The two of us stayed together though. Doug eventually found us. His extra height helped him pick out mom's hair in the crowd. We radioed Sara and through arm waving and calling eventually found her too. Our location wasn't too bad either. We had a great view of the Capitol Building and were right next to some speakers. We heard every word.
So here is what the experience felt like:
Incredible, once in a lifetime, amazing, powerful, hopeful, joyful, legendary, and . . . fill in your own adjective with a positive connotation. People were yelling and jumping for joy. President Obama's speech was powerful and the spirit of his words are something I will never forget. A lot has happened politically for our nation, and I think President Obama knows the stakes of failure. No matter who you voted for in the election, I think we are looking into a bright future with Obama driving our nation. I'm excited. I'm excited about what he stands for, about his intentions, about his message of hope and change. I'll never forget that day. Especially when I caught my first glimpse of the First Family. Mom and I stuck around for the parade (well the part where the President got in his limo and drove down the street). The sun was at just the right angle so I could see through the tint of the car and could see the First Family waving back. I almost cried it was so cool. I got to witness and be a part of history first hand. Now I have photos and tickets to frame for my future grand kids to ask questions about the time I got to be around when the United States elected our first African American President. I don't know, I think it is pretty cool.
The day ended with Mom and I getting in another line for the metro and heading back for Doug's (they left earlier to reunite with Cameron and the babysitter. I'm sure his blog will have their story of walking back to Virginia soon). That evening, I met up with my dear friend, Casey Chadwick. He is stationed there in the ceremonial guard of the Navy. We hung out most of the night until he got called in to cover the night shift. Poor guy. He had (got to) usher for the seated areas at the inauguration. He had a great view. It was really great to see him. There is nothing quite like being reunited with a close friend to end such a perfect day.
So I made it back safe and sound, but exhausted to boot. I started teaching again today; I must say I really missed my students. On class even planned a return party for me. They brought sodas, cookies, doughnuts, fudge, and other miscellaneous goodies, and wrote "Welcome Back Ms. Olsen" on the board and signed their names. They are sweet kids. Don't worry, it was business as usual, we just had refreshments to go along with the learning. :)
I need to end by saying thanks to Doug and Sara. They were great hosts and made us very comfortable. Doug even got up early (4 a.m.) and drove us to the airport. Much thanks and love.
So that's my story. I put together a slide show, but pictures don't really do the spirit of the event justice. Anyway, enjoy.