Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Rivalry

I had no idea really.  Clearly this was because I had never seen the other side.  But man oh man there is quite the rivalry.

But the bottom line is, all logic aside really there is only reason that the majority of people prefer the Land or the World.  The prefer what they know.  Even before I started writing you could guess what I would say.  But it’s because it’s true.  Disney World might be good, it might be great, it might be better.  But the bottom line is, Disney is about the innocence of childhood.  That is one of the major parts that makes Disney so magical.  It takes us back to our childhood.  So of course no matter what Disneyworld is I will always prefer Disneyland.  And honestly being at Disneyworld just made me miss Disneyland more.  (Yes I fully recognize there might be something seriously wrong with me.)

That being said.  I’d like to tell you about Disney World.  I won’t be doing any comparison other than as a description because clearly we know my bias is quite strong. So I went to a 4 day conference at the Swan and Dolphin Resorts located in Disney World right next to Epcot, The Boardwalk, The Yaht Club, and Hollywood Studios.

The Swan and Dolphin Resorts were pretty nice…. But I found out while talking to the bell boys when I was trying to find somewhere to run that the resorts aren’t owned by Disney.  This resolved my deep concern with the lack of Mickey’s anywhere around the resort. (He gave me a Mickey sticker to help me get over it)

  Views of Tower of Terror and Thunder Mountain from my balcony.

The Boardwalk was pretty fun.  It was very similar to the boardwalk at California Adventure but bigger and no rides.  There were shops, restaurants, and fun street vendors doing entertainment.  I’m assuming there would be even more entertainment during peak season seeing how we were definitely not there during peak season.  (The Boardwalk is free)

The Yacht Club was a perfect New England Dream with a light house, shipwrecked pirate ship, and beautiful Nautical style architecture.  My favorite thing I didn’t take advantage of was a campfire Disney sing-a-long!  I would have loved that.  Sadly I was busy every night during that time.

 I just ran by Hollywood Studios every day.  I clearly saw Tower of Terror which definitely looked bigger than in California Adventure.  The entrance looks exactly like California Adventure but I hear there are very few things similar to CA there.

  And some beautiful skies on my runs.

I was planning on going to “Mickey’s not so scary” trick or treat at Magic Kingdom from 7-12 the only night I was free.  It is only $57 rather than $97.  But I wanted to feel things out with my group before I bought my ticket…. Which of course you know where this is headed……. They sold out.  I was so so so disappointed.  Kinda like when I was headed to Florence and found out the tours/tickets to see the David were sold out.  As soon as you know you can’t have something you want it so so so much more.  I was almost in tears.  We went down to the Consire and asked if there was any possible way to get a ticket.  I thought maybe because we were staying on the resort there could be some type of Christmakah miracle.  Nope.  But then the lady goes, “But wouldn't you rather go to the Wine Festival at Epcot anyways?”  I had to smile.  I have loved seeing the reaction over and over again as we turned away free booze.  Anyway, I found out there was a convention discount and I could get a ticket to Epcot for $57 for 5 hours.  Perfect.
Sadly I still wish I could have gone to Magic Kingdom but Epcot was good to see.
How I would sell Epcot to anyone interested in going: “Ever wanted to go on a Mediterranean Cruise but hate flying, get sea sick, or are really just going for the pictures, food, or shopping?”  then this is the park for you!
The Food: I ate a shrimp taco in the Mexican section just because I was starving.  But then I wasn’t really hungry the rest of the time which was a TOTAL bummer.  My group decided on eating dinner in Morocco which definitely wouldn’t have been my choice but it was fun watching the belly dancers and I tasted some of the hummus and a delicious peach/orange/pineapple drink.  Then after dinner as I was wondering around I really wanted a treat.  I looked at the French desserts but they were huge and honestly didn’t look like anything I really wanted.  So I was wondering around and I saw a kiosk in Italy with 3 works and no line.  (Unusual at any Disney park but especially at this festival, it seems everyone was there just to eat and drink.  Well mainly just drink.)  So I went up and chatted with these 3 Italians working at Disney World.  It was really fun talking to them.  I hadn’t even noticed I was wearing my Venice sweatshirt so we started by talking about how they were from near Venice.  They all loved America and were trying their hardest to stay longer.  (They had been working at Disney World for 14 months.)  The interesting/depressing part was when I asked them why they loved America so much you should have seen them both get bright eyed and say almost in unison, “Starbucks!”  “Surely there is a Starbucks in Venice.” Both shook their head, “No…. it won’t get there for another 10 months.”  I laughed, “Really?  There is no other reason you love America?”  “Subway!”  So so so sad.

The Rides: Pretty uneventful.  I was so excited to ride “Soarin’” thinking it’d be Soarin’ over the entire world.  How cool would that be???  But no it’s the same ride as Soarin’ over California.  The Norway ride I thought was kinda fun.  It’s like unto Pirate… but then all of the sudden you get scared by a troll and start riding backwards down a little water fall.  Kinda fun. 
The Firework Show: it was in the middle of the park in the “pond” as they call it.  (We’d call it a significant lake.)  I liked the location because it was easily seen by everyone in the park without cramming into small section.  It wasn’t magical but it was fun.
But really if you want to know the hightlight of my entire time in Epcot.  It was my date for the evening.  I spent most of my time with my “father-in-law”.  His last name is the same as mine so you can imagine the weird looks we got at this conference with such an unusual name.  He is really related to my husband and also my blood relative.  But man oh man he was so much fun.  Just a little bit of his background, he graduated from Cedar High, went to SUU, got a PHD from MIT, then an MBA from Harvard, then worked in business sector traveling the world, then spent the rest of his career as the head of admissions at Harvard Business School.  The stories he had to tell were enough to keep me entertained for days. 
As we were walking around I got the best idea for a quiz for my students for tomorrow.  He took a picture of me outside every single “country” in Epcot.  Tomorrow I’ll post the quiz on here to see how well you can do. J

Anyway, over all it was a wonderful trip.  I read two books on the plane rides.  (Finally read Edenbrook, HIGHLY recommend it to anyone that wants an easy fun Jane Austen-esk read) and Variant.  Made some fun new friends, and most important I got some great ideas on what I can do to be a better teacher.  (Remember I’m trying to be the best teacher ever this year?)  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My Morning Rant.

Warning.  I really honestly try not to talk about politics anymore.... but I can't help it.  So if you are very pro-gun control....... this might be a post you want to skip.

Last night Jason and I went to see the new Tom Hanks movie. First..... can I tell you how excited I am to see Saving Mr. Banks???????? Merry Christmas to me!  I feel I probably need to rewatch Mary Poppins a few times before hand but I'm pretty excited.  Disneyland 1960's style??? What more could anyone ask for?

Anyway we went to see Captain Phillips.  It was super intense and entertaining... I didn't even sneak a peak at my phone once through the whole movie!  But the whole movie I couldn't help but be super duper mad.

The storyline is no shocker if you've seen the trailer.  Tom Hanks is a captain of a cargo ship sailing around the horn of Africa that gets taken over by Somalian Pirates.  

Here is the frustrating part of the entire movie. An entire ship worth millions of dollars and a crew of 25 were taken over by 4 punk kids because...... the ship had no means of defending itself.  Not a single gun.  Which of course in the end causes the American Military to plan a huge elaborate scheme to rescue the ship.  Our best estimates concluded that the super awesome (I love movies where our military kicks butt) mission to save this ship probably cost American Tax payers 10s of millions of dollars.  I think the military did exactly what it needed to do.  It was awesome.  It made me proud to me an American.

But I just can't understand how anyone could watch that movie and honestly say, "Yeah, I don't think common Americans should have the right to have guns. I think guns should be outlawed."  

I wish we lived in a perfect world where guns weren't needed.  But since that can not be the case...

The hard thing is... I don't want to carry a gun.  I don't want the responsibility of it.  But what I am so thankful for are the common citizens concealed weapons permit holders that are.    

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

My first memory of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies is in my cousin Tinell's apartment when I was 18 years old.  How in the world I didn't know such a delicacy existed before then I have no idea... but I remember them being so delicious.

Then I worked at Paradigm and I was introduced to the most delicious Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookie ever created at Village Baker.  (If you are ever just randomly driving West on 90th south in SLC... please look to your right (north) right before you get to Redwood Road and promise me you'll stop.)  I am not kidding.  This place is a life changer.
Only picture I could find online of my favorite cookie.... sadly it's mostly cut off.
Anyway, then I was introduced to the Spice Cake Mix + Pumpkin + Chocolate Chips recipe, which I thought was genius.  But then the dilemma happened.  Those cookies really don't taste that good and often times they are under cooked or just not the right consistency .... and honestly I thought I just lost my love for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

But have no fear.  Last night I wanted to be a good wife.  Sometimes I feel guilty that I am not one.  That I get home from a long hard day of teaching and all I want to do is sit on the couch and do nothing.  I don't care to decorate my apartment, try to make it homey.... heck most of the time it's difficult for me to get shoes from the front door back into my closet.

So last night, Jason had another late study session, so I decided to be a good wife and have him come home to a delicious meal of homemade pizza and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies....
I started using parchment paper underneath my pizza rather than corn meal on the pizza stone.... it makes it a million times less messy and just as tasty!!  Clearly I'm the boring one especially with my basil plant dead :(, while Jason's side has artichokes, sausage, onion, pepper, tomato, and those olives... forgot what they are called. Love them.

It was a success.  And the whole point of this post is.... the recipe I used for the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies renewed my love for them!!!  I got the recipe from here:

"the" pumpkin chocolate chip cookies     !!!

wet ingredients
2 eggs
3/4 cups canola oil (
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups sugar
1 small can of pumpkin (about a cup and a half)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
(I didn't have molasses so I ended up using 1 C dark brown sugar, 1 C sugar and 1/4 c honey. just to try and keep the same consistency)

dry ingredients
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
as many chocolate chips as you need.

mix wet and dry ingredients until smooth, then drop by the spoonful onto your cookie sheet using a scoop or large spoon. bake at 400 degrees F for 10-12 minutes, or until the middle of the cookie feels firm to the touch.
I hope I can renew your love for the most delicious cookie ever.........

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Break

When I think vacation I think sunshine, water, good food, and hopefully cool people.  When Jason thinks vacation he thinks action, adventure, and this weekend.... death defying heights.

I got my sunshine, hot tubing everything night, a couple fantastic meals, and got to see an old friend...

Jason definitely got what he wanted as well.

First we:

Then we:

Snow Canyon

Ok, I didn't look that girl.... but it was intense, and I looked more like this:

Then after a long soak in the hot tub and a good nights rest we went here:

Zion National Park

to climb this...

Angels' Landing

I finally made it to the very top!
Then we ate the most delicious lunch here:

It was amazing.
Then we headed back to St. George and our final destination was here:
Only Jason climbed..... 

I am exhausted just thinking about it.  But man oh man St. George is amazing.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Why History Matters

I'm sorry... it's 4:52 am again.... and I just read the most beautiful article.  It connects the dots that I've been trying to articulate in my head for weeks now.

I teach history.  And quite frankly most of the time I have no idea why.  I didn't excel in history.  I am not passionate about history.  I don't even like to go on tours of historical sites while traveling, sorry Kristen.  I see the amazing passionate history teacher next door from me, I just don't understand it.  That lady would be excited to see fossilized buffalo dung!  Her kids love history and love her more than I thought was possible.  Anyway,  how I ended up teaching the subject which has the potential to be the most exciting or the most boring of all the subjects based 100% on the teacher.... that is beyond me.  

I've been trying to come up with a heart to heart for 6 years now on why history is so important.  Over and over again I've tried to convey a message, and over and over again I have felt I have failed.

But then I listened to my grandpa's funeral and my wise Uncle Nolan helped me out again.  He started his talk by saying, "When each of us were born we came in the middle of the story...."  I imagined a painting.  I imagined that although sometimes we think we are a portrait, a sole individual with a blank washed out background, but rather we are all apart of a huge master piece that is only partially completed .

It's been frustrating to watch this current evolution of education try to change social studies.  They want data.  They want facts.  They want history teachers to be able to prove that they taught the "essential standards" to all students at high levels.

But that's the problem.  History isn't about facts.  It isn't about dates.  It's a reflection about the past in order to better see ones self. The more I understand that, the more I want to fight the system.  I'm thinking of getting my doctorate.  And currently I want to do my dissertation on, "Why social studies matter." (Please don't hold me to this :)

My aunt Raine sent me the most beautifully articulated article explaining why history matters.

For those too lazy to go read it.  Researchers studies kids and this was the results, "The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned."

"Dr. Duke said that children who have the most self-confidence have what he and Dr. Fivush call a strong “intergenerational self.” They know they belong to something bigger than themselves."

Why does history matter?  Because our actions matter.  Because our actions determine what at least part of the master piece will look like... 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thanks Mom

I feel a heart to heart a brewin'. But since it's 4:37 in the morning, sadly you are my only audience. So here it goes:

I never thought I would be grateful for this. I never realized how much it helped me. It's only now as an adult that I see how damaging the other way could have been. 

I remember how jealous I was. I wished so badly that my parents would have been different. But now I am seeing how I was really the lucky one. 

But it all goes back to my dad's saying, "life isn't fair". Oh how I hated that. 

I think the first time I realized that my parents weren't like everyone else was in middle school when a teacher gave a test that we all viewed as completely unfair. We were all furious about our less than perfect test scores. As we walked out of class I remember walking through the halls with a group of kids in the class discussing how ridiculous, how unfair, how terrible the test was. And I'll never forget when someone said, "I can't wait to get home and tell my parents. They will be so mad they'll go straight to the teacher and demand I get to retake it." I remember like sheep we all agreed that we'd do the same. 

 But the problem was, I already knew. I knew what would happen when I got home and showed the test to my parents. If I told them how  ridiculous, how unfair, how terrible that test was they wouldn't go after the teacher, in fact they wouldn't even say a negative word about the teacher, they would have gotten after me. They would have punished me for my bad test score. End of story. 

I heard of these parents that would yell at teachers, complain to principals, or my favorite ask coaches for more playing time. And so badly I wanted just once for my parents to go fight for me. 

But no. I was always taught without fail, if you want an A you have to work for it, if you want more playing time you need to get better, if you have a problem with an adult... The adult is right and I was wrong. 

Now were the adults always right and I was always wrong? Probably. But even if that wasn't true. Even if I was right sometimes this value of my parents' taught me a very unmistakeable lesson. If you want something in life. You have to work for it, be smart enough to figure it out, and the only person you can rely on to make sure you get it is you. 

Why am I on my soap box about this today? Because I am blown away by the number of parents I see or hear about every day going to bat for their kids over the pettiest issues imaginable. And I see what it does to the poor kids. It makes them weak, it makes them selfish, it makes them entitled. 

Why do I write this? Because I see that not going to bat for your kid might take a lot of restraint, maturity, and wisdom. When my kid comes home someday complaining about something, or not getting the playing time or got cut from the team... Who knows what I'll want to do. But hopefully I'll remember this little heart to heart and help my kid out rather than hurting him. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My Best Friend

Last night as we were laying on the couch watching the 6th or 7th episode of Suits for the day. (Highly recommend the show.) Jason started teasing me doing something so silly I won't even tell you, yes that silly, anyways we both started laughing and couldn't stop. It was then that it hit me. It's hit me before I hope it hits me again. But I am so unbelievable grateful for him as my best friend.

If you have been a long time reader you might remember a countdown I did years ago called the worst thing to say to a single girl? Well there was one statement people made to me that was so hurtful I left it off the list. And the more I think about the more I know it isn't true. People would tell me I need to be happy. They said if you aren't happy now you won't be happy when you're married.

But the problem was I knew better.

One example in particular made me long for a friendship.... a relationship.... a companionship like theirs.

They are best friends.  There is no question about it.  And they have been nice enough to me the past 10 years to let me hang out with them.  And the entire time I just hoped that someday I could have a relationship like theirs.

So last night as I had tears rolling down my cheeks laughing at Jason doing a silly dance.... after we had spent the last solid 10 hours together... It hit me.  I love my best friend.