Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Year in Review – 2015.

When I realized it was this time a year again I was a little nervous.  I was afraid I didn’t have any cool pictures to show for this year.  We definitely didn’t travel as much.  And especially by the end of the year, I have turned into a beached whale that does little more than sit on the couch and eat… so obviously there haven’t been any cool pictures lately.

But when I went through my pictures from the folder titled 2015 I very quickly remembered how wonderful this year has been. 

The other day my mom shared with me part of the definition of prayer from the Bible Dictionary.  “The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them.”

When I look back at the year 2015, I hope I always see it as the year God gave us the blessings that we prayed for day after day.  I hope I always see His hand so divinely intertwined in my life.  And I hope I always stay humble enough to recognize it’s only through Him and obedience to His laws that I can always find peace and happiness.

Because man oh man, 2015 was quite the year of blessings!!!!

Some of my favorite highlights:



And now for the Top Ten Pictures of the Year:

Two Honorable Mentions this year:

10: Visiting our special place.

9: Missionary Work

8: My Two Favorite People in the Grand Tetons

7:Jason in his elements.

6: Rocky Point, Mexico

5: The time I took on the "Leave me here and let me die" hike.... even while I was pregnant! Yellowstone Canyon

4: Catalina Island

3: Oh the days of being skinny.... I hope you return soon. Malibu Canyon

2: Yosemite Valley

1: Titled, "Hello Del Parson's Studio"

Past Reviews: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Thanksgiving Break

Sadly, I don't have many pictures from Thanksgiving break...... it was pretty fabulous.  Well until I got a nasty cold that might be the death of me.................. I am afraid this cold isn't going away until this baby comes out of me.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thankful time of year.

Well it's Thanksgiving morning.... it's 5 am.... and no one is stirring not even a mouse..... except me.  Of course I am bright eyed and bushy tailed.  Someday I hope to get my body on a different schedule, but until I finish teaching I don't foresee that happening.

So instead I'll focus on the things that I am so unbelievably grateful for.

The other day I watched possibly the cheesiest Christmas movie of all time.  I should have known better when Netflix told me I would give it a one and a half stars.  But anyway, I pushed through and watched it all.

It was about some girl who was going back to her hometown to a Christmas high school reunion.  Of course all she wanted was to get back together with her high school boyfriend.  Like I said, unbelievably cheesy.

Whether it was that stupid movie or it's the smell of the girls locker room every morning when I go in,... the faint smell always reminds me of Cedar High.

But I  have been thinking of high school.  The goods and the bads.  The great fun memories.  But most of all, what I would tell myself if I could - just for 2 minutes - run into me when I was 17 years old.  If I could somehow get a message back to that girl, all I would say is,

"Your life at 32 is happier and more wonderful than you can even possibly imagine right now."

Of course the road of life is long with inevitable bumps and turns.  But this time in my life, this last 4 months have been the happiest time ever.

And to think we are going to go and throw a wrench in it and have a baby.  What in the world are we thinking????  :)

But alas, since this is more of a journal than anything profound or exciting, I'd better write down exactly what I am grateful for.

1. My body.  I know almost 50% of the population has experience what I am going through but still.... this experience of actually making a human being in my belly.  Kinda crazy.  I must admit, it has sucked way more than I anticipated.  The ligament pains and pelvic pressure on one end, the acid reflex on the other and the almost passing out with 2 flights of stairs......... but I am so grateful for the fact that eventually the baby will leave my belly.  I can then go back to sleeping on my stomach!  And I know that I will be able to run, jump, and do all my favorite work outs again.  Man oh man, I can't wait for that day.  And I never guessed in a million years I would say that.  The limitations on my body has made me so so so so so grateful for my body.  I know I know, it'll probably never be the same, but I am sure grateful for the hope of being a normal person again.

2. My family.  God must have known I was too weak to make it on my own, and I admire those that are.  But I am so grateful for the family God blessed me with.  My mom.  One of my favorite parts of my day right now is at 3:30 on my commute home I call her.  I always start by asking her what she's doing.  If she's busy I just hang up but if not we chat for the next 20 minutes until I get home.  My favorite thing recently when she answered the phone she said, "You are going to think all I do is shop." (Which is hilarious because my mom is the least materialistic woman I know.  And she hate hate hates to shop.)  But I love those 20 minutes that we just get to chat.

My dad.  Words can't even begin to express how much I love and admire him.  He's so wise and funny and just cool.

My siblings and their families.  I am so ridiculously proud of who they are and what they have become.  I am so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful clan of people.

And of course my aunt Raine.

3. My job.  I finally confessed something to Jason the other day.  Probably shouldn't have.  He might not ever let me live it down.  My confession?  I only hate my job about 23% of the time.  The other 77%  I can't believe I am lucky enough to do what I do.  I love my subject.  I love the mass majority of good good kids.  I love their kindness.  I love their dreams.  I love how they treat me and love me and how they let me help mold them into wonderful human beings.  But man, that other 23% really really sucks.  But I am pretty lucky.  I wake up every day pretty dang excited about my day ahead.  (Well except through this pregnancy.... there have been lots of days when I just wanted to die rather than getting off the couch, and just dreamed of the exact moment I could get back on it.)

Along with that: my co-workers.  More and more I am realizing and try to soak in as much as I can the amazing teachers I work with every day.  I almost can't talk about how much I love my partner without crying.  He is the most wonderful gentile kind caring man.  It's crazy that after 34 years of teaching he still cares about the kids as much as he does!  He is a good good man and I am so lucky to get to teach with him.

The rest of my department is just as wonderful.  The lady that would give the shirt off her back to not only me but to any stinky 8th grader she teaches is amazing.  I don't know how she has a heart big enough to love them, but she does.  The other two teachers I have just as much love and respect for.  I am so lucky.

4. My friends.  Let's just say I love them all.

But of course, why is my life so unbelievably happy???

5. Because of Jason.  Even though as we speak he probably wants to punch me in the face because it's now 6 am and I have been typing on a laptop in bed for the last hour.......... I didn't know it was humanly possible to love someone like I love him.  Right now we call them my "Love Googles" because it is really ridiculous.  I think it's got to be a pregnancy hormone or something but man alive I can't stop loving him.

He really is the best human being to me and I am so grateful that he chose me.  But if I was going to say what I am most grateful for is how beautiful it is to watch us mold together.  It hasn't always been beautiful.  Frankly, it's been quite painful and slow but watching that transition has been the most beautiful thing I've ever been a part of.  And every day I cannot wait for the moment that I get to see him.  Every single day it makes me unbelievably grateful.

Now bring on the Pumpkin Pie!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Heart to Heart part 10

When I was student teaching I came to a brutal reality - teaching sucks.  It sucks bad.  Like crazy bad.  It was a pretty depressing reality to come to.  I had just spent 4 years of my life and thousands of dollars with one plan.... to be a teacher.

Now let me explain back then why I realized teaching sucks.  (If I was going to make the list today it would be much longer and detailed but we'll keep this list to what I figured out then)  Students are tough.  They just want to be entertained.  The harder you work, the more effort you put in to creating lessons, activities, and assignments to really help them learn, the more they complain.   The more they hate you.  The more they hate your class.  Learning is hard work.  Bottom line.  So if you want kids to actually learn and grow you have to expect and prepare for major kick back from them.

So there I was depressed about teaching.  Realizing how wrongly I had chosen.  I didn't want to be a teacher.

And a flicker of light came into my life.  I was the Relief Society President in my student ward.  And one day my bishop's wife came up to me and said, "Kristin, I am so impressed with you.  I have seen what you have done with this ward and calling and I can tell you are a woman of power.  I have an insurance agency.  I would like to offer you a job to come work for me.  You will start as just a receptionist but with time you will learn the business and I figure within 2-3 years you will have learned everything there is to know about our company and you will be able to start your own branch of our insurance agency."  It was such a huge compliment.  And best of all - it was a way out of teaching!

I was so excited I started working almost immediately.  It was a fun and exciting career with so much potential for growth.  And the best part - the harder I worked, unlike teaching, the more grateful people were and  the more successful my experience was.

But I needed to still finish student teaching so I could graduate with my degree.  So I kept teaching, kept trucking along.  Until one fateful night.  I was grading essaying and decided to watch the season finale of American Idol.  It was the year that Carry Underwood won.  But I don't really remember her.  I don't remember the songs or the other competitors.  All I remember was one stupid sentence said by Ryan Secrist that change the course of my life forever, "Last night 36 million people voted for your next American Idol.  That is more people than voted for the last president of the United States."

Yes.  More people voted for a girl to get a record deal than the next most powerful person in the entire world.

I was absolutely sick.  What is this world coming to?  Seriously?

How in the world is our nation going to survive when more people care about entertainment than their rights and freedom??????

I knew what I needed to do.  The thing I didn't want to do more than anything.  But it was like right then and there I knew I had a mission in life and making loads of money with an insurance agency wasn't it.

I wish I had the conversation recorded when I called my insurance agent mentor, "I'm so sorry Sheri, (sob) I really appreciate what you've seen in me and what you have offered but I have to be a..... be a.... (sob) teacher."

That fall I started my career as a teacher.

(At this point in the class period I start talking about government philosophy and we discuss why learning about government is so important.)

Sometimes I give this mini heart to heart, sometimes I don't.  It hurts my heart a little bit sometimes, still 10 years later, I regret my decision to not choose a different path.  Sometimes I still wonder what it would have been like to be an insurance agent instead of a teacher......

But then like so many other times before I got a letter yesterday from one of the students that I worked with the most, worried about the most, and worked harder for than most to help influence him.

And I remember it's all worth it.  The crap.  The misery.  The absolute frustration beyond belief.  For that one kid, it was all worth it.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Baby Shower

Yesterday my two aunts, Becky and Raine threw me the most amazing baby shower.  It was absolutely darling.  I felt so incredibly loved.  I am so lucky to have so many wonderful women in my life.

This is getting pretty real around here.....Baby is coming in less than 66 days whether I'm ready for it or not!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Fallbreak 2015

I had no idea what I should do for fallbreak.  Jason couldn't go anywhere or do anything because he had huge tests so more than anything I wanted to spend my babymoon with Linz in Japan.......... but I had no idea how I would be feeling at that point.  So sadly, I missed out on that trip and it will now have to be postponed for a year or more.... oh well.

So I had no idea what I was going to do.  Until I got this picture from Aunt Raine.  Then there was no question where I was headed.

I was a little worried about spending 10 hours by myself driving.  I mean of course I have done it countless times before, but once again, with this alien in my belly, sometimes I have no idea how I will feel.  But the one thing I always do know........ my bedtime is before the sun goes down. So I asked Erica what book I should listen to.  She gave me a great fun recommendation.
And if there is one thing I know for sure, there are very few things I love in life more than a road trip.  I have no idea why I love it so much.  The feeling of progression?  The forced time to just sit and think?  The beatiful ever changing scenery?  Hmmmm probably the junk food.  But anyway, it's crazy how quickly the 10 hour drive went by.  And the book was so good I almost wanted to just keep driving!

As always it was a party at Raine's house.  What else is new.  But the main reason for my trip down was one last trip to Disneyland before the baby comes.  

It was kinda a bummer trying to decide what rides I would or wouldn't go on.  I consulted my dr. (Dr. Craig that is)  And he told me what I kinda already figured.  There is very little evidence that riding any ride at Disneyland would risk my baby or my health.  But after a lot of consideration I decided nothing is worth the risk...... and I didn't go on ANY of my favorite rides.  But it was still a wonderful day.

I went to Disneyland with my dear friend Jo.  I met Jo at Disneyland training and she still works at Disneyland.  Currently at the Plaza Inn but hopefully she'll be moving up soon!   Disneyland was a beautiful and packed especially with Utards as ever.  I know the days of short lines and room to skip through the park are probably over.... I blame Instagram.  But I digressed.

Like any perfect day at Disneyland, as soon as we walked down Mainstreet smelling the delicious aromas they blast into the streets to make you want to eat anything and everything in sight, we headed straight to my favorite location for the best tasting Diet Coke ever, Coke Corner.  (I've really tried throughout pregnancy to not drink soda but at DISNEYLAND???? I had to.)

Of course as soon as we got into the park the first thing I needed was my traditional castle photo.  Maybe someday I'll decide it's too cliche to take pictures in the castle and find somewhere more hip or creative........but man that castle rocks my world.

I figured we should start in my favorite area of Disneyland, New Orleans Square.  So we started with Pirates of the Caribbean.  The lines were crazy long, but the great part of this trip was: I couldn't ride many rides that had huge lines so I didn't have to worry about getting onto every typical ride AND I got into Disneyland for FREE!!! Who gets that?  So I could not complain in the slightest.  The weather was perfectly hot and beautiful.

The two tiny waterfalls gave my stomach such a rush on Pirates that I realized it was probably a really good thing I wasn't going on more "extreme" rides.  As Jo and I were walking I ran into my cousin's kids who were at Disneyland with their dad.  We went on Jungle Cruise with them and of course got a couple of pictures in front of the castle.  The oldest daughter, Taylor, had been in my geography class last year.  So it was super fun running into them.

After that Jo and I headed to DCA to try some things neither of us had done before.  This summer when I went to Disneyland with Jo she had never been to DCA.  It was so fun to show her my favorite parts of the park.  But today, we searched for new things neither of us has been to.  We started with the Frozen Sing-Along.  This attraction is ABSOLUTELY genius.  I'm not the biggest Frozen fan around but man it was so stinkin' fun!  It included characters and a little show, singing your guts out as loud as you can, and even some magical snow falling at the end.

Next we grabbed some dinner at the Fisherman's Wharf.  We shared a pesto turkey sandwich and a chicken salad bread bowl.  Honestly, not my favorite meal at Disneyland ever.  Kinda sad we didn't hold out for something better, but oh well.

We decided we needed to hit up the ferris wheel next because who waits in line for the ferris wheel???  It was pretty darn magical as the sun was setting to watch Disneyland and DCA become golden.  Man I love this place.

After we watched the DCA parade....... not my favorite because I must admit I am not a huge Pixar fan.  (Who dares say that, I don't know)  But we decided to sit and watch it.  And I'll admit having a comfortable easy seat to watch a parade rather than the insane mad house of Disneyland was pretty fantastic.

But we did leave early to make it to the Aladdin show.  I had been to the Aladdin show once before back in 2011 with Lars.  I remember it being great, but somehow I absolutely forgot that the Genie is AMAZING.  Hilarious through and through.  It was awesome.

As it was getting dark, like every other guest at the Disneyland Resort, it's like this magnet to return to Disneyland.  To the magic.  The park was insanely crowded.  But we couldn't leave without ice cream from Main Street!  And of course a walk through Fantasy land.

 I absolutely love walking through Snow Whites wishing well area to enter Fantasyland.... especially at night.  I feel like that is where all the magic is.  I was hoping to get on Peter Pan.  I haven't been on it since it was renovated this summer.  But alas the line was over an hour long and my lower back was starting to kill me from all the walking.  (Don't worry we still got in 9 miles of walking)  So instead we stopped at the Mad Hatter...

We walked through Fantasy land past the Matterhorn into Tomorrowland to take the train back to the entrance.

It was a different day than most at Disneyland.  Less running, thrills, and excitement but it still was a glorious day of different adventures and wonderful memories.