Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: a year in review

The other day I was asked, “How was 2014?”  I responded how I am supposed to respond.  “It was good.”

But as I have been sitting here reflecting on the passed 12 months I realize a lot of things.  A lot of this year sucked.  A lot I talked about because that’s what I do.  I talk.  But a lot I have tried really hard not to talk about.

Even as I write that I hesitate.  Is that okay to say?  That a year sucked?  I quickly scanned back over in my head the previous two years.  Three years even.  Best years of my life.  So yeah, I think it’s okay to say that a year was hard.  To say that I have been pushed and challenged in ways I didn’t think possible.  Yeah, I think it’s okay to say that.

Because I like honesty.

Of course it wasn’t all bad.  Of course I have tried my darndest to be happy anyway.  But I think every once in a while it’s okay to say it sucked.  I think I’ve appreciated sympathy or empathy in ways I never had.  I think I have appreciated true friendship more than ever before.  I think I have turned my faith and trust upwards.  So really it’s a good thing.  That is the purpose.  That’s the point.

But that doesn’t mean that sometimes it doesn’t suck.


As I scanned through my posts from 2014 I remember the struggle of losing a best friend and gratefully am now learning I gained a new friend.   Over and over again through the year I learned how our perspective is often our choice.  We determine the outcomes.  I talked about it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  Hmmm... maybe this blog is more of a broken record than I thought???  I have lost hope in the education system in more ways than I can count.  (I try not to write too much about that because I like having a job...)  I have felt hopeless and scared.  I have felt completely ripped off.  I have seen love, felt love,  and found new hope in love. 

There is no question that this year brought value.  Lots of value in my life.  There are so many things to be grateful for.  And I think that is the value of the end of the year.  To gain a new found gratitude for the pain, heartache, laughs, and joys.  2014.  You were beautiful in ways I never imagined.  You taught me beauty in things I didn't think possible.  You have pushed me and challenged me in ways I didn't think I could.  So for that I guess I need to say thanks.

Alas, on to the pictures.  Here are the previous top ten picture posts: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010


So here we go..... my Top Ten Photos from 2014

Number 10 aka Honorable Mentions:


 



 Number 9:


Number 8:



Number 7
 


 Number 6:


Number 5:


Number 4:


 Number 3:


 Number 2:




 And my favorite picture of 2014.......



drum roll please....












Shocking right?

2014.  Thank you.

Thank you for two amazing trips to San Francisco, a hike in Zions with Linz, some (key word is some) students that actually think I'm cool, beautiful Idaho sunsets, text message from caring family, fantastic workout instructors and friends that make 5 am not seem so bad, philosophical talks with my dad, a friend at Harvard so I can brag, gorgeous views of Yosemite, Havasupai and Big Sur, warm weather and sunshine until December, less fear of heights, phone calls from Joanie almost every day, carmel popcorn, shaved ice with cream and honey walnut shrimp, amazing co-workers and friends, living next to Provo Canyon, but most of all.... thank you for the hours and hours I got to spend with Jason.  Because he is my favorite.  Oh and Disneyland.  :)


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Lesson from a Christmas long ago.

Every year we couldn’t wait for it, the day when the Christmas edition of the JcPenny’s catalog finally arrived.  We would spend hours searching every inch of that catalogue picking out, circling, and then crossing off every toy we ever wanted.  Crossing off was an important part because you see, we knew we had a limit.  Who knows where the number came from or how it was established but we kids knew that Santa allotted exactly $100 for each of us for Christmas.  So just as important as circling every toy we wanted in the JcPenny catalogue crossing off the ones we decided we really didn’t want was just as important.  By the time Christmas rolled around that magazine was thrashed.  Every single page with toys was worn, corners folded, and torn (from many fights over who’s turn it was to look at it next).


Then came the Christmas that I had my heart set on something not in the JcPennys catalogue. Whether it was her similar name or similar heritage I don’t know, but all I wanted for Christmas the winter of 1992 was the American Girl Doll named Kirsten.  She came with a catalogue all her own.  I remember filling out a postcard from the back of one of her books to start receiving the magazine.  Every day I poured over the pages of the magazine not only the pictures and advertisements for the doll but each and every single accessory that you could purchase besides the doll.  I dreamed of having each of her dresses, all of hats and mittens, and shoes.  But each and every time I saw the price of Kirsten my heart sank.  The doll along wearing her original outfit cost $94.  I knew that I wasn’t getting anything more than just Kirsten that Christmas.  I remember telling myself it was okay.  Really Kirsten was all that mattered.  I could ask for one of the $28 dresses for my birthday. Probably her pink and white gingham birthday dress.

But I seriously remember giving myself a pep talk that Christmas eve that it was okay to not get all of the Kirsten catalogue. Night finally came and I couldn’t sleep.  I just laid and watch the numbers on the clock slowing switch.  When it got to a time that I was positive Santa had already been to our house, I pulled my flashlight from under my pillow and slowing crept up the stairs to see if she was there.  I squealed with delight when I saw her.  There she was sitting on our maroon couches.  Just waiting for me.  I didn’t even dare touch her because I was afraid my mom would know.  So I hurried downstairs crawled back into bed and with a huge smile on my face I knew this was going to be the best Christmas ever.

When eternity had passed and my mom had turned on the Christmas tree lights and made my dad get out of bed, we ran into the living room.  Being the sneaky little girl that I was I pretended I was looking at Kirsten for the first time.  I held her, brushed her hair, and couldn’t believe I was so lucky. 

As we started opening presents under the tree I started to brace myself.  I knew there shouldn’t be any presents under the tree for me.  You can’t imagine my surprise when during the night my mom had wrapped up 4 or 5 different packages for me.  You see, she knew me all too well.  I was known for being the snoopiest one of them all. 

When it got to my turn to open my first gift I was so excited I almost couldn’t stand it.   I couldn’t believe it.  It was the pink and white gingham dress that Kirsten wore at her birthday!  With the matching white apron and sunflower crown!  I was so confused.  This dress with the accessories was $28.  It was over my limit.  Then it was my next turn…. Her red school dress with a blue shawl.  Next, her nightgown.  Her light cotton summer dress with a matching straw hat.  Her Scandinavian sweater, wool skirt, and knitted hat and mittens.  And last, her traditional Swedish Christmas outfit with the Christmas crown with candles and all!!!!  I couldn’t believe it.  I had gotten every single one of Kirsten’s outfits!  I was so excited but I didn’t understand.  Each of these outfits were at least $28 each and I was already so close to my budgeted $100.  How had my mom done this???? Santa only have $6 to get all of this!


And then I got my last present from my Grandma.  Each year my grandparents typically gave us a new book.  So of course because it wasn’t every really a fun surprise I already saved that present for last.  So when I opened the package and it wasn’t a book I was a little confused.  It was something with Kirsten on the cover.  It took me a second to realize what it was.  Patterns to make all of Kirsten’s clothes.  But it had already been opened.  It was then that it hit me.  My mom had known about Santa’s budget of $100.  She knew that Santa wouldn’t be bringing me all of Kirsten’s clothes.  So she had examined that American Girl Magazine just as close as I had.  She had used the money from my grandparents to buy the patterns, she found the fabrics to exactly match the ones in the magazine, and she had sewn every single one of Kirsten’s dresses for me.   All so I could have my perfect Christmas.


Years later I see my mom taught me a lesson so much more important that just giving your child a perfect Christmas. Now I think of the hours she must have spent late at night sewing those tiny intricate dresses, accessories, and even making a flower crown.  It would have been so much easier for her to buy all of those Kirsten outfits from the catalogue.   So much easier to just spend more money.  But there was an important lesson to be learned.  And man oh man  I am forever grateful that my mom loved me that much. 



Friday, December 19, 2014

Are you happy?

It was a stark drastic question when she asked.

It wasn't directed to me.  But it got me thinking.  Am I happy?

Then a few days later, yesterday, one of my dearest friends asked, "What is making you happy right now?"  I haven't seen this friend in a few months, so this is the question she asked to start our catch up. When she asked, I went through a check list in my head.  What is making me happy?

- Certainly not my job.  It had been a rough day previously.  Another one where a parent brought me to tears.

- Certainly isn't my body.  The frustration never ends.

- Jason has been so busy with finals and his new job... hadn't really seen him in days.

- The list when on and on.

So I said, "Uh..... I don't know."

We then went on the have one of those soul exposing conversations that I live for.

We talked about how wonderful it is to feel God's hand in our lives.  How grateful we are for the tender mercies mingled between the challenges.  I told her about how I've been reading my journals.  It was as Ang and I were talking that it hit me.  I know exactly what is making me happy.

People.

I have always felt so blessed to have the most amazing people in my life.  Every time I read a journal I remember how lucky I have been.  And then there are days like today.  The day before Christmas break.  My friend Brittney created the best present for me.  It is the kind of present that only someone like me would cherish so much.  She went around and had my teacher friends and faculty write a message to me and then put them all together in a book.

I have been so blessed.  So blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people.  Why am I so incredibly happy?  Because no matter what life throws at me, I am never alone.  Because of that I am so lucky.





Just in case you are wondering about what my Administration has to say about me....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Journaling


I feel like there are two types of people in this world.  Those who spend their existence documenting their lives and those who don't.  Sounds like two extremes... but I think it's true.

I have always been one who loved to document life.  It probably started through letters to my cousins I left behind in Idaho (which we laugh about now because for every 5 letters I sent, I probably received one back) and then in 5th grade it happened.  Every week we had to write in our journals.  I have written in some sort of journal once a week ever since.  That means I have 20 years of documented thoughts.  20.

So of course I always love when I hear encouragement from the church to write in journals.  It is definitely a pat on the back.  I state how much I love journaling because I don't want to give off the wrong idea that I actually do it because I am supposed to.  I do it because I love it.  But I've been thinking about why we are encouraged to journal.

I think it's kinda a strange thing to encourage.  This idea of writing down our thoughts, our ideas, our current life situations with the knowledge that no one might ever read it.  Or for me, the frightening thought that someday someone might actually sit down and read 20 years of journals.  That poor soul.

Every once in a while I go back and read my journals.  Now beyond the embarrassingly long list of guys that consumed my every thought for the past 20 years, I feel like I always gain something from reading my journals.  I think the most valuable lesson I learn time and time again when I read about days of the past is, "This too will pass."  No matter the trial, no matter the hardship, every thing eventually turns out okay.  The pain eventually dulls, the insecurities melt away.  No matter the event or trial eventually I can look back and see that not being asked to your jr. prom is not the end of the world.

Of course I bring up something so insignificant as a stupid high school dance because 99% of the world's population has the wisdom to recognize the truth of how insignificant it is.  But to that poor 17 year old girl.... it was everything.  And the more I read my journals I can see that no matter the trial nothing is worth compromising standards or giving up on God because this too shall pass.  But sadly bad decisions sometimes can't be taken back.

Journals give us wisdom of our own personal life experiences.  It's one thing to be told or advised by someone else's lessons learned.... It is completely different to see it first hand time and time from ourselves.

I recently wrote about time and how it does strange things to us.  For the good and for the bad, time helps us forget.   It's good because without it, can you even imagine how many horrible things would constantly be swirling around through your head?  Thank heavens we forget.  But also bad because sometimes with time the lessons we learned are forgotten.  We digress.

So as I'm sitting here at 4:30 in the morning snuggled up in my flannel blankie, sitting under our Charlie Brown Christmas tree, sipping on my morning drink of choice I understand a little bit more why I love this time of morning so much.  I love the time I have to reflect and write and read.  Now clearly I wish it was not at 4:30 am..... because that means I am currently going to bed around 7:30.  Yes. Totally socially unacceptable.  But in the quiet of the morning, I love it.  It gives me the meaning and purpose I need to get through another day.  It gives me the courage to be a good teacher.  Yes.  I said courage.

But that'll have to wait for another day because the gym is waiting.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Do you have kids?

Last night we went to a high school basketball game.  My high school basketball team.  I know that sounds ridiculous to claim a basketball team.  But I do.  And this team is it.

I've often tried to describe why I love high school basketball so much.  A group of sophomores and juniors came to visit the other day and I promised I'd make it to their game.  So we walked into the gym at the end of the JV game... We walked in to watch a cute little guy make a 3 pointer to tie the game with 2 minutes left.  The joy, the high fives, the hugs.... and even better when the other team scored and then with .8 seconds left a boy got fouled shooting a three pointer. 3 made foul shots to win the game. The parents in the crowd patting the dad on the back, hugging the kid's mom. Too bad we were sitting with the other teams section... But still. So badly I want Jason to get it. The fun that comes from high school sports.

We then moved to the PG section. We decided to sit on the parents side of the basketball court... because I'm getting old!  I don't want to have to stand to see the game!  It was a really fun game.  Of course I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.  Jason just laughed because he's never seen me like this.  I just wish he would have seen what I was like when one of my little brothers was playing.  It's like I was playing the game with them.

Anyway, probably around half time a mom sitting next to me turned and said, "Do you have a son on the team?"  I'm sure she was so confused why this 31 year old girl she doesn't recognize is jumping, cheering, yelling like she really cares.... The only logical explanation she could come up with is I must have a son on the team....

I smiled.  She didn't recognize me.  I said, "I was Ethan's (her son) history teacher last year."  She said, "Oh... history and geography?  I remember Ethan telling me he really liked you.  Sorry I never came to parent teacher conference.  Since Ethan had a 4.0 I figured there was no reason to go."  I laughed, "No thank you for not coming!  I never know what to tell parents like you other than your kid is great and I'm lucky to be able to teach him!"  She laughed.

The crowd got loud.  Someone made a shot, or maybe one of my boys was fouled and the ref didn't call it.  I don't know.  But our conversation stopped.

When the crowd quieted down again she said, "So.... (clearly still kinda confused why this 31 year old junior high teacher dragged her husband to a high school basketball game) do you guys have kids?"

Very touchy subject.

I smiled, "No, not yet."

She smiled not really knowing how to respond.  So I tried to help her out.  Tried to explain why we were at the game.  I said, "Actually Ethan and a bunch of the basketball players came to visit me the other day and asked me to come to the game."

She said, "Oh!  I remember Ethan telling me he went to the junior high and I couldn't figure out why!  It was to see you!" I'm sure she was confused why her high school son would want to go back to the junior high. No one likes jr high. I understand why she was confused.

I don't have kids.

But sometimes, like last night, I remember how lucky I am to get to be a part of such great kids lives.  I almost had tears in my eyes when I heard, "PARSON!!!!" being yelled across the basketball court from the student section and I look over and see 15 old students on the front row waving and yelling trying to get my attention.  Or the look on the face of the players when they saw I came.  How exciting that little act was to them.

I love knowing that I affected these kids. I love knowing that even if so insignificantly that they don't tell their parents that much about me.... That I did affect them. I did influence them. And hopefully because of me their journey has been a little bit better.

And some days.... I just really need that.



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Graditude

Our Thanksgiving break started off with a bang.  My favorite Uncle Nils gave a talk in church on gratitude.  I wish I could remember the whole talk, I really do.  Maybe I will ask him for a copy.  But my favorite part (that I can currently remember) was him talking about he is so grateful for.  He is so grateful for the fact that his entire life he has always felt like he is apart of something.  That in a world of so much confusion and constant identity crisis he always knew he had somewhere he belonged.

This Thanksgiving Nils helped me remember how lucky I am to feel the same.  
I love rows of Palm Trees... and this might be my favorite in Fallbrook.

Sunday after church in Glendora Jason and I drove down to Fallbrook to have a Thanksgiving dinner with Jason's parents, brother, sister's family, and his grandma.  Jason's mom always puts on the most amazing Thanksgiving dinners!  The highlights for me this year was the turkey (brined for 3 days creating the most amazing moist, tasty meat ever) and of course the sweet potatoes!





Monday morning Jason went to visit the dentist (his dad) so I went for a run around his dad's office in Vista.  Having never spent much time in Vista I of course really had no idea where to run.  It got a little fishy when even the churches had bars on the windows..... 


But it was the most beautiful day!  Perfectly sunny and hot.  Just the way I like it!  I had seen a fun looking hike on Instagram or something months ago and so Jason and I went to find it.  It was hilarious reading the Yelp reviews of this hike.  So southern California.  The hike was 6 miles total but people wrote about how you need gallons of water, food for 2 days, hiking boots, hiking sticks.... in other words they were making it sound like you were climbing Kilimanjaro.   I laughed.  Luckily... Jason insisted we take at least 1.5 liters of water.... I probably would have gone with none.  Like I said it was a hot day.  No shade.  And the hike was actually a little bit more intense than I was expecting.  It was probably like hiking 3/4 of angels landing.... but still definitely not as difficult as the reviews made it out to be.

So the whole point of the hike is to get to this:

Sadly there was the most annoying 16 year old girl you can possibly imagine at the top, and if Jason had to listen to her for one more minute he was going to lose it... alas, only a picture of me at the potato chip rock.  No Jason.  But it was a fun little adventure.

When we go to California we find it completely necessary to eat as many tacos as  possible.  Here is our first experience.


The next day Jason wanted to go climbing..... after a rough hike trying to get to the climb (which we never actually got to) we decided to bag it, hit up our favorite beach side Taco restaurant Johnny Mananas in Oceanside and relax at the beach.  They might have my favorite Horchata ever.... yes I am quite the connoisseur of horchata.



Later that night we went to dinner with Jason's parents and went to an outdoor mall in Carlsbad.  I don't know why but one of my favorite things in the whole wide world is Christmas decorations mixed with palm trees.... for me this is heaven.



The next day we drove up to Corona Del Mar to hit up the beach with the Lindstroms.  It was the most incredible day at the beach!  No wind, heat, and my personal favorite NO WAVES!   (I know, total drag for Jason and others that like to surf...) but it was amazing!  I got further into the ocean than I have in years!  (Since the infamous Huntington Beach incident of 2003.... where I got saved by a life guard.)  The water was so ridiculously clear you could see schools of fish, sea shells, and even a snail in the water!  I had no idea the Pacific Ocean in southern California could be so wonderful!
Oh Laguna you never cease to amaze.

A quick fish taco at Wahoo's in Laguna for breakfast. :)

I love Corona del Mar

The next day was Thanksgiving.  It was an amazing beautiful day.  California sure knows how to do fall.... I know many people would disagree  but sunshine and palm trees are always my favorite.  Dinner wasn't until late afternoon so after making my favorite Banana Cream Pie (with one major addition...) recipe  Jason and I went to explore a little bit of LA.  The traffic in LA is always so horrendous that we rarely travel around LA much.  (Well, besides the airports) SO we decided to go get another picture for my Where in the World is Mrs. B wall.  I can't believe I've never been close enough to take a good picture with the Hollywood sign.  


 Then we decided to go drive around the rich areas of Beverly Hills.  I don't know what I expected.... but it was EXACTLY like Fresh Prince.  I seriously wouldn't have been surprised if Will Smith came walking out of a house with a backwards hat rapping about a cab with dice in the mirror....
Every street was lined with beautiful palm trees and ridiculously high hedges to give privacy.
Of course Thanksgiving dinner was incredible.  It was probably the smallest Thanksgiving gathering at Loraine's house.... but to make Loraine feel better we called it, "The Best of" the thanksgiving party.

Sadly this is my only picture of Thanksgiving.  But it was super amazing and fun.  The highlights were the amazing rolls!

The next day Jason and I went rock climbing.  Jason found an amazing granite rock quarry in Riverside (40 minutes from Glendora).  I am sure we will be hitting that up every time.  
Just belayin'...

After we drove to the other side of the valley to eat at my favorite place... possibility in all over Southern California.  I feel like you can never trust any business that brags "the world's best"...... except these Tacos!!!!  This place never ceases to amaze...........



But the highlight of the entire trip........

Raine put up a cute new picture wall of her kids.  Nils thought it was funny to print out a picture of Jason and I and put it on the wall..... yes.  I have officially arrived!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Time

I've been thinking a lot about the concept of time.  Why sometimes time moves so fast while other times.... like while holding a plank for instance.... time seems to stand completely still.  So I guess more than actual time, I've been thinking about our perception of time.  Based off of years or experiences an amount of time might seem large or small.  Time seems to be one of the most significant challenges of this existence.  Waiting or enduring.  It's all based around time.

Last night we went to see Intersellar.  We watched it in an IMAX theater.  When I saw the price of the tickets I thought to myself, "This better be as good as Disneyland"  Shockingly, for the girl who doesn't care for movies, it did not disappoint.

Of course it wasn't the special effects, unique sci-fi story, or amazing cinematography that blew my mind, it was the raw candid view of human nature that rocked my world.  It is that that kept me up all night thinking.

I'll try not to be a spoiler but I have to write about it because I can't stop thinking about it.

The two most innate and distinct characteristics of life is the desire to survive and to love.   But really I almost feel like we could say the only purpose to survive is to love.  And I think something the movie said was completely true.  Time can't touch that.  This concept of love.  It's unbelievably powerful.

But the part of the movie that has rocked my world the most was the villain of the movie.  Logically he wanted to do the right thing.  He did.  He understood what was right, initially he chose right.  But his innate desires were so powerful that over time logic could not win.  Time wore down his will power turning him into a monster.

I think time does this to all of us.  Wears us down to our bare bones, exposing us for what we truly are.  I guess this is why we call this life a test.  The test of time.  To see if no matter the trial, no matter the challenge, we will choose to stand where we are supposed to be.  This is where what we choose to love becomes so important because I think that is what will determine what our bare bones expose.