Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Hobbit

Here's something, if you are as nerdy as I am, that will please you immensely.

They've put out a trailer for the first Hobbit movie:

Suffice to say that I loved the books and the other movies with all the pieces of my crooked little heart, so I am ridiculously excited for the next movies.

Also, I like the actor they've chosen for Bilbo. I've seen him in another show, and I think he'll be able to portray Bilbo's fussy worrying quite well.

Unfortunately, they won't be releasing the movie for an entire year. December 2012.

I guess that means if we all survive the end of the Mayan calendar, we can go to the movies to celebrate.

Monday, December 19, 2011

So Good

Yesterday, I was reading a book. I got to a part where the scene was so good that I dropped the book and slapped my hand over my mouth. For half of a second I was a little shocked when the movie inside of my head cut off. Then I remembered that I was reading, so therefore, if I wanted to know what happened next, I'd need to actually hold onto the book.

Yeah, that kind of reading is fun.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Taking Flight

Someone: So, what did you do yesterday?

Me: I flew an airplane.

I really want to have this conversation with someone. Because I totally flew an airplane yesterday.

Best Parts in Random Order:
1. I drove almost the entire time. Immediately after take-off, the pilot said, "Here, you drive. I'm going to try to get a picture of this." And he craned around to try to get a picture of the sunset with his cell phone.
2. I drove the plane up Provo Canyon, around the backside of Timp, and down American Fork Canyon. Never been shoulder to shoulder with a mountain like that!
3. My instructor taught me some "pilot maneuvers" like stalling the plane in midair and 45 degree turns.
4. Then we tried to make me sick. Rolling ups and downs where we tried to float a crumbled up ball of paper in the cockpit.
5. I landed the plane.

Holy cow, guys. I highly recommend this.

Thanks a zillion, siblings, for making it happen!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

"What a Kid Is"

My class is reading Jerry Spinelli's "Loser" right now. There is a line in one of the chapters--in the middle of the unlikely hero's selfless quest--that sticks out to me each year. It describes the time when the main character's little sister ran away:

"But in the end she stopped. Funny thing, she never slowed down, she just stopped, in the middle of the street. She stopped and turned and looked at him and his father and just plopped her apples right down on the street, one car coming to a stop, another swinging around them.

She had been utterly pleased with herself. "I runned away!" she chirped, and the sun was no match for her smile. And Zinkoff saw in that moment something that he had no words for. He saw that a kid runs to be found and jumps to be caught. That's what being a kid is: found, caught."

Found. Caught.

There may be something to that.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Getting Lost

Warning: This is a long, wordy post about a mundane, unimportant topic in which I air my opinions simply for my own gratification. No one should feel obliged to actually read it.

I'm vaguely embarrassed about writing this.

After all, writing entire blog posts about television shows that everyone else finished with years ago hardly seems like a worthwhile use of my time. But, as I have a tendency to subscribe to the "Big Gulp" philosophy of entertainment, I've been a bit fixated lately. And I would like an outlet.

So here we are.

I've been watching Lost--you know, the television show? I didn't watch it when it was actually on, not even when my friends recommended it repeatedly.

I tried watching the first season on DVD while grading papers during my first year teaching, but that didn't work out very well. I was already seriously, seriously stressed out ALL the time... watching Lost to "relax" was a little less than relaxing.

But lately I've had some time on my hands, so I thought I'd give it a try.

My hat goes off to the writers. Very effective. I've cheered, cried, yelled profanities at the screen, and very nearly thrown the computer across the room. (I blame that last piece of near-violence on Ben. I hate him.) As I said, very effective.

But here's the rub... I'm starting to get scared that it's going to spiral out of control. The longer a television or book series goes on, the larger the plot becomes. The great writers still manage to hold on to all the pieces, and end up with a strong, credible ending. But sometimes, the writers lose control of their own beast. It gets too big. They start losing track of the details. They start leaving things out, making big leaps, having characters do things that are contrary to the development they've been given. And in doing these things, the writers accidentally "pop the bubble."

It was my high school drama teacher who explained about the bubble. Actors, writers, their job is to put you in a bubble where you get to spend a little time somewhere else. You're supposed to forget you're at the theater. On your couch. Wherever. You're supposed to be sucked in, so that at the end, when you do finally remember where you actually are, you feel like, "Whoa. That's right. I'm sitting on my couch. I am not in the middle of the jungle being chased by a polar bear."

That's good writing/acting.

So, when something goes wrong, when (for whatever reason) the bubble pops prematurely, the audience feels disappointed and distracted, and it takes time to get back into the story.

Oh sure, there are always those stray thoughts ('Where do they keep getting all of these tarps? I mean, seriously. Who even HAS tarps on an airplane?' or 'They've been there for three months... and Kate still doesn't need to pluck her eyebrows?') but those are easily ignored. It's when the story itself gets lost that your "bubble" takes the hit.

I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. It's those moments when you're going through a story and something happens that just feels wrong. I'm not talking about conflict, or surprises, or difficult emotions--we actually like those. I'm talking about when something occurs, and you stop, and your brain goes, "...what? That wouldn't happen." And POP! You are out of the bubble.

It's disappointing every time.

So far, Lost has hung in there! Bubble intact. The writers are great, the actors are very effective, and I've totally been sucked in. But I know where it's going next. Trippy time travel, alternate universe sort of stuff.

I'm crossing my fingers that the writers can keep it together. They already have SO MANY questions to answer, and I'm only halfway through. Three more seasons of this and the plot is going to be HUMONGOUS. Regardless, I'm REALLY hoping I get to stay in the bubble. Cuz so far, it's been quite the ride.

Don't tell me what happens, okay?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Advice for Life on the River

Proverbs 22:6:
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

My thoughts, midflip? Clear as a bell:
Don't drop the paddle.
After all those years of safety talks, you could say I have been thoroughly trained!
My dad would be so proud.

Pictures courtesy of Mark Hoza and Brother Durd.
Panther Creek Rapid, Salmon River, Idaho

Thursday, June 09, 2011


Today was the last day of school. When the bell rang to dismiss for summer, I was fully anticipating the usual war whoops and shrieks of delight. Instead, much to my surprise, half the class BURST INTO TEARS! No kidding! I just stood there, totally aghast, as my sixth graders had an all out bawl fest. The girls desperately hugging each other, as stripes of mascara dripped to their chins. The boys, red-faced, knuckling their eyes (one boy out and out sobbing), slapping each other on the shoulder and back.

I was totally beside myself.

The problem, I do realize, is that a chunk of the class will not be returning to NSA for middle school. But that happens every year.

Crying about summer vacation?

That's got to be a first.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Borrowed from a friend

I want movement and not a calm course of existence. I want excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love. I feel in myself a superabundance of energy which finds no outlet in a quiet life. Leo Tolstoy

Monday, March 28, 2011


Last Friday, I took my very first "I'm so frustrated I can't stand to be here any longer without punching someone" day off.

There were a myriad of reasons. But I won't dwell.

Instead, in an attempt to put things in perspective, I decided to dwell on other things today.

Like how nice it is to use the snooze button. I never did this--not in high school, not in college--because I thought it was abominably rude of people to wake everyone else up several times instead of just the once. But now that it's just me, I can snooze as much as I like! 40 minutes worth of snooze buttoning!

Like how my fabulous, fabulous teacher's aide tidied my desk for me when I was gone on Friday.

Like how that one student finally (yes FINALLY) raised her hand to ask a question!

Like how much I like Harmon's. Yeah, the grocery store. They're superior. They have nice produce. They have not one, but three different brands of marscapone cheese! And to top it all off... they were selling SALTED CARMEL GELATO. I know. I know.

Tomorrow I'm going to dwell on corned beef and cabbage. Want to come and dwell too?

Friday, January 21, 2011


Today was the sort of day when I realize why it's sometimes a good idea to cut people some slack. There is really only so many things a brain can do before it simply gives up.

So, here is today's list set in my neck of the woods.

Today I:
  • Woke up at 4:30.
  • Went to Walmart to shop for clusters AND the party.
  • Arrived at work early (but not early enough).
  • Briefed a coworker on an IEP.
  • Prepped a Study Island assessment.
  • Held a class reteach in math so my students could take their math test.
  • Held a one-on-one reteach with a student who struggled.
  • Graded the history tests.
  • Graded student presentations on their literature projects.
  • Presented a lesson from our Core Knowledge curriculum.
  • Gave a spelling test.
  • Lead a cross-curricular activity to try to fit more Social Studies curriculum into Language Arts while also tapping into the outcomes of my students' Interest Surveys by presenting it in a manner that allowed them to perform.
  • Made extra copies of the party schedule and stuffed them in the designated station bags.
  • Had the technology teacher show me how to disable the filter so I could play music at the party.
  • Created a playlist of music from the 50s for the musical chairs station.
  • Checked in my students 2nd set of biography fact cards.
  • Introduced the Tournament of Champions, had the students choose which role in our classroom medieval village they would like to assume, and judged a contest which determined where our village would be located.
  • Started the charcoal (using my charcoal chimney) out on the asphalt.
  • Taught cluster kids how to make banana boats and dutch oven cobbler.
  • Cooked the food.
  • RAN into the building at the closing bell, and handed out last minute supplies for the party.
  • Threw a party for 165 elementary students, which involved 7 different stations from 7 different time periods, complete with treats and prizes. Served cookies at the door on the way out.
  • Stayed to finish next week's Learning Plan.
  • Drove home.
My next plan is to eat. I'm totally going to eat chips and dip for dinner. And no one is going to stop me.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Amazing Technicolor Russell

Favorite Russell moment of the week:

Russell swathed in my Ikea rainbow-striped blanket, spinning around my living room, belting fragments of songs from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat while dragging a string under his foot for the cats to attack.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011


My family embarked on an epic road trip this holiday season. One of our first stops was the Grand Canyon. Now, I've seen the Grand Canyon from a distance, but I've never been there. So, I give you the Grand Canyon!
Yeah. Did I mention it was cloudy?

So we visited the Watch Tower and took a lot of pictures instead.

Maybe next time...