I have the most amazing opportunity for my students next year. Adobe Youth Voices is a program that gives students the opportunity to use multimedia to tell stories about issues they care about to create positive change in the world. Adobe sponsors teachers by giving them training in using advanced digital media tools and advanced storytelling techniques and by providing schools with lots of great software. One of my colleagues who teaches the media production class applied to and was accepted into the program (which is extremely competetive) and she asked me and another colleague in the English department to join her. She figured that the two of us could help the students with writing and storytelling and she could help out with the technical aspects. I am so excited about this! We had our first training on Tuesday and tonight we were invited to an exhibition of work by students in the program this year held at the City Library. It was so inspiring and I can't wait to be sitting in the audience next year watching my students' work!
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
There will be some big changes for me at school next year because I am going to be the Student Body Officer Advisor! I won't be working with the new teachers any more and I am scaling back my involvement with AVID (I will still be the Coordinator but I won't be teaching any of the classes). I am pretty excited about this new challenge (I was the SBO Advisor when I taught at Kearns Jr. High) and I have already started working with them. We have registered for a leadership camp at Utah State University during the summer (which sounds like so much fun) and we have ordered our sweaters (which are going to be awesome). Here is my group (minus one who was on a field trip) after they were introduced at the assembly last week. They are so excited!
Monday, May 20, 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013
I am missing both of my top lateral incisors because of a congenital birth defect. I had these baby teeth but the permanent ones never grew in (some members of my extended family also have this birth defect but with other teeth). When I was a teeneger I wore braces for several years to create a space in my mouth for dental implants. When my braces were removed I had a retainer with two false teeth attached, which I wore for about a year, and then I got a flipper with two false teeth. This was supposed to be temporary until I could get the permanent implants. I was absolutely terrified of this procedure (I have an intense phobia of needles) and kept delaying and delaying. What was supposed to be a temporary solution turned into an appliance that I have worn for over twenty years! I have to tell you that I have really come to hate my flipper. Not only does it not look very natural, but it doesn't really fit my mouth any more. I play with it with my tongue all of the time and once it came flying out of my mouth when I was talking (truly the most mortifying thing ever). If I get any food trapped between it and the roof of my mouth, it is extremely painful. All of these annoyances have convinced me that I really need to overcome my fear and get the implants already. My Dad found me a dentist who specializes in implants and I went for a consultation last week (and promptly had a panic attack in the waiting room). Luckily this dentist is amazing! He joked that twenty years was still considered to be temporary! After taking x-rays and examing my mouth, he told me that the spaces are not big enough for implants and that, one way or another, teeth need to move before he can do anything. He can move the teeth further back to create a bigger space for the implants or he can move the teeth forward and cap my canine teeth to look like lateral incisors (which is what he recommends). Either way, it looks like I will be wearing braces (again) when I go back to school in the fall...just like all of my sophomores!
Labels: life moments
Saturday, May 18, 2013
When it comes to technology I am always a few years behind everyone else. While I was one of the first kids in my jr. high to have a Sony Walkman (portable cassette player), it was only because my parents gave it to me for Christmas. Everyone in my immediate family had a computer, CD player, DVD player, iPod, digital camera, and e-reader years before I did (even my twelve year old niece has a better e-reader than me).
Last year my school received a grant to buy teachers iPads and I didn't even sign up to get one because I didn't see what all the fuss was about! Can you believe that? However, this year I took a class and every participant in the class was given an iPad. Yeah...now I know what all the fuss is about. It is pretty much the coolest thing ever! I honestly don't know what I did without it because there are so many amazing apps to use in my classroom. My favorite is an app which creates QR codes because my students love scanning them.
I always had really cheap cell phones because I often lost them or dropped them. When my Dad (who is a technophile) decided to upgrade to a BlackBerry Storm several years ago, he very kindly gave me his BlackBerry Curve. I really loved having a smartphone and thought it was amazing. Lately I began to notice that it needed to be charged quite frequently and I wondered if I should replace the battery. Then I realized that I might as well get a new phone and spontaneously bought an iPhone 5 (I had some money from my tax return). I have had it for a week now and I am pretty much obsessed with it. The first app that I downloaded was NHL GameCenter and I literally watched a hockey game while sitting outside at a party last weekend! So incredible! It has a personal assistant named Siri but I'm not really sure how to use "her" yet! The camera on this phone is better than my expensive camera and I seriously love instagram. I really cannot stop playing with it! Even though I am the least tech savvy person in my family, I currently have the best phone. That will probably last five more minutes...
Note: I find it ironic that I was the first person in my immediate family to have a FB account. Now I have a love/hate relationship with social media...except instagram. Instagram is awesome. You can follow me @phaedrasadventures if you are so inclined.
Friday, May 17, 2013
I don't know if I would classify myself as a "Trekkie" but I do really love the movies in the Star Trek franchise, especially the reboot in 2009. Last night I went to see the latest installment, Star Trek Into Darkness (I didn't have to wait until midnight to be the first to see it because there was a screening at 8:00). When Admiral Marcus tries to militarize the Federation and provoke a war with the Klingons, Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise must form an uneasy alliance with an enemy to defeat him. I absolutely loved this movie but I suspect it is because I am such a fan of the previous movies. This one totally embraces the Star Trek mythology, including the villain (apparently I was the only person in the theatre who didn't know who he really was until the big revelation). I loved hearing all of the old quotes (especially when Bones says, "Damn it Jim, I'm a doctor not a torpedo technician") and seeing each of the characters' little idiosyncrasies. I also really enjoyed all of the bantering between Spock and Kirk and I literally could not stop laughing when Kirk calls Spock "Pointy." In my opinion, all of the actors completely embody their (extremely well-known) characters and I loved the addition of Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain. I find him to be strangely appealing...The action sequences are intense (and the visual effects are absolutely stunning) but I was rather disappointed in how Uhura is portrayed in hers. Just when I was stoked to see her take on some Klingons, there is a prolonged shot of her backside as she walks up to them. Come on... Nevertheless, it is a fantastic movie and I highly recommend it to fans of the original Star Trek series (everyone else will like it but might not appreciate all of the references as much as Trekkies will).
Thursday, May 16, 2013
It was one year ago when chaos took over my well-ordered life! I came home late from school to discover that my house had been damaged by a fire on the golf course!
This was definitely a difficult experience, to say the least, but I survived and I learned a lot! I had great insurance agents, contractors (I had one or two issues with sub-contractors), and crews who worked really hard most of the summer to get my house back together. Here are some after pictures.
Note: Everyone, including my contractor, made fun of me for picking the same color of siding. As you can see, it is clearly different!
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The Awkward Club convened another meeting last night by going to Utah Opera's production of The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini. We have been looking forward to this production all year! The libretto is absolutely hilarious. Count Almaviva (Robert McPherson) sees a beautiful girl named Rosina (Celena Shafer) on her balcony and falls madly in love. However, her guardian Dottore Bartolo (Michael Wanko) is extremely protective of her (and may want to marry her himself). Almaviva enlists the help of the barber Figaro (Will Liverman) to help him meet her. This involves impersonating both a drunken soldier (Act 1) and Rosina's music teacher (Act 2). Chaos ensues! I laughed out loud many times with all of the nonstop physical comedy (although I did think the macarena was a little bit cheesy). While most of the songs are very comical (and recognizable), I really loved the aria Almaviva sings to serenade Rosina on the balcony ("Ecco, ridente in cielo"). It is so beautiful that it actually gave me goose bumps! All of the actors have amazing voices and their performances are brilliant, especially Shafer and Liverman. I definitely enjoyed watching this opera and, as always, I had so much fun with my cousins, but I think I prefer the epic tragic operas to the comedic ones.
Note: I am pretty sure I was the only person checking hockey scores while in the lobby of Capitol Theatre. The Rangers won but the Maple Leafs did not.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Saturday, May 11, 2013
This afternoon I went to see the new movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Despite the fact that Baz Lurhmann is hit or miss with me (I loved Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge but I hated Australia), I was really looking forward to it. It is amazing! It should come as no surprise that the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorites (English major) and I think the movie is pretty faithful to the plot. I loved the fact that the movie opens and closes with the green light on Daisy's dock. Lurhmann is quite over-the-top as a director but, considering that the novel is all about the decadence and excess of the wealthy during the Jazz Age, it works in this case. I absolutely loved the party scenes! They had to be completely outrageous because, after all, Gatsby throws them just to impress Daisy! The costumes are simply incredible, particularly the dress made out of crystals that Daisy wears to Gatsby's party. I also loved the music. I'm kind of obsessed with Jack White's cover of U2's "Love Is Blindness" at the moment. In my opinion, the use of a modern hip-hop sound juxtaposed with classical music, especially Rhapsody in Blue, is genius! I've heard the film criticized for being more about style than substance but the characters are all described in the novel as shallow and self-absorbed. I loved real-life friends Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire as Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway, respectively. Their chemistry is palpable and I think they are both perfect for their roles. DiCaprio is always great as a charismatic, yet tortured soul while Maguire excels at portraying a wide-eyed, innocent onlooker. Carey Mulligan does a nice job as Daisy Buchannan and I loved her performance in the scene where she meets Gatsby for tea at Nick's cottage. The look Daisy gives Gatsby when she first sees him is intense, to say the least (one of my favorite scenes in the movie). While speed and reckless driving are major themes in the novel, I did find many of the car chases to be rather jarring (it might have been better in 3D). It didn't detract from my enjoyment of the film, however, and I definitely recommend it! Go see it, old sport!
Thursday, May 9, 2013
For some reason, I seem to find myself at Walmart at least once a week and, for some reason, when I see large plastic bowls on the shelf for $1.98 I find myself buying one of each color!
I do think these bowls will be perfect for outdoor picnics and barbecues this summer. Since I will be going to a potluck party tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to make the fabric bowl covers I found here to make it easier to transport food.
These bowl covers are very easy to sew and it is a project suitable for beginners. You will need some fabric slightly larger than the circumference of your bowl and some 1/4 inch elastic.
Place your bowl upside down on top of the fabric and cut out a circle about 1 1/2 inches larger than the bowl.
Sew the elastic to the edge of the wrong side of the fabric using a zigzag stitch. Sew about 2 inches to secure and then pull the elastic as you sew. The more you pull, the tighter the cover will fit on the bowl.
When you get back to the starting point, overlap the elastic about 1 inch and cut the elastic tail.
Fold the elastic over and secure with another zigzag stitch around the entire perimeter. Clip all of your threads.
Give these a try! They are much more eco-friendly than covering your bowl with plastic wrap because you can wash them and use them over and over. Plus, they are pretty cute!
Note: There is a Walmart on my way home from school. One day I stopped to get some glue and came out with a Utah Jazz hoodie, some socks, and a book. No glue...
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Tonight I went to PTC's production of Les Miserables. Back in September I was able to see the stage musical at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, in March I was lucky enough to attend an amazing concert with the Utah Symphony featuring Broadway stars performing the music from the show, and I basically spent the entire winter in a darkened theater watching the movie (for the record I saw it six times). Even so, I can honestly say that I was just as excited sitting in the audience tonight as I was the first time I saw it in London! I get goose bumps every time I hear those opening notes. PTC did a magnificent job with stellar performances from all of the principal actors. I was most impressed with Josh Davis as Javert. I actually cheered out loud after his rendition of "Stars." I was not alone! I loved Eponine (Manna Nichols) in "On My Own," Marius (Perry Sherman) in "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," and Valjean (Joe Cassidy) in "Bring Him Home," but the performance that had me crying like a baby was "A Heart Full of Love" with Marius and Cosette (Melissa Mitchell). I'm not usually a fan of the character of Cosette (I want Marius to end up with Eponine) but something in that song really touched me tonight! The orchestra (amazing) is a bit smaller and the set (brilliant) is a bit bigger than the original Broadway production. Director Charles Morey also added some subtle touches which I don't remember ever seeing before, particularly when Fantine (Kelly McCormick) blesses Cosette and Eponine blesses Marius in the final scene. That is incredibly powerful! I absolutely loved this production and I highly recommend getting a ticket (if you can). It runs through June 1.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Saturday, May 4, 2013
I probably should have stayed home taking care of my cold tonight but I have a terminal case of a syndrome called the fear of missing out (FOMO) so I found myself sitting in Abravanel Hall instead. But, let's face it, there are some things that should not be missed and listening to the Utah Symphony play the music of John Williams is one of them! It was a lovely concert! The orchestra began with a medley of music from Star Wars and Principal Pops Conductor Jerry Steichen came on stage dressed as a Jedi with a light saber! The concert then featured music from Memoirs of a Geisha, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Far and Away, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Catch Me If You Can, Schindler's List (with a beautiful solo played by Concertmaster Ralph Matson), E.T., and JKF. As the orchestra played, images from the movies were projected on a giant screen above the stage. It was a really nice effect. The concert concuded with the Symphonic Suite from Harry Potter which was a lot of fun. I had a really nice time in spite of my cold!
Friday, May 3, 2013
Even though I have been pretty sick this week (and even missed a day of school) I had to see a midnight screening of Iron Man 3. I just love that genius billionaire playboy philanthropist Tony Stark and I love seeing movies at midnight! There is something so exciting about being the first to see a movie and the crowd is usually pretty rowdy. Tonight's assembled crowd was even rowdier than usual with applause, cheers, laughter, and comments galore! I loved every minute of it! Let me just say that the movie is awesome! Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) is having panic attacks relating to the battle with the Chitauri and, when he can't sleep, he tinkers in his workshop building an arsenal of automated suits. Meanwhile, an old enemy of Stark's, Aldridge Killian (Guy Pearce), has appropriated a formula called Extremis which can regenerate DNA. He has experimented on wounded soldiers and created his own indestructible army. In addition, a terrorist known as Mandarin (hilariously played by Ben Kingsley) is wreaking havoc on the world and targets Tony in particular. The plot is somewhat convoluted but, as ever, the special effects are incredible and Tony's snappy dialogue provides much comic relief. The confrontation between Tony's suits and Killian's army is epic but my very favorite scene in the movie involves Happy (Jon Favreau) and Downton Abbey (as you know I am completely obsessed with that show). If you are a fan of the Avengers franchise go see this movie as soon as possible (and stay through the credits).
Note: This is the first movie I have seen in 2013 that wasn't Les Miserables.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The April selection for my book club was What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. I didn't think I would like this book but after the first couple of pages I was completely enthralled. Alice regains consciousness after a fall at her gym with no memory of the past decade. In her mind, it is 1998 and she is blissfully in love with her husband and expecting her first child. In reality, it is 2008 and she has three children who are acting out and is in the middle of an acrimonious divorce. In 1998 she and her husband are lovingly restoring an old and decrepit house full of character. In 2008 the house has become beautiful yet cold and untouchable. In 1998 her sister Elisabeth is her closest friend and confidant. In 2008 she keeps detecting a coolness in their relationship. As Alice picks up the pieces of her unremembered life, she discovers that she doesn't like the person she has become. The theme of this book is about letting the pursuit of the perfect marriage, house, children, image, and position get in the way of happiness. It is definitely a cautionary tale about taking the people you love the most for granted. Moriarty is very adept at building suspense as Alice discovers what has caused her relationships to deteriorate and there are quite a few twist and turns which will keep the reader engaged. I also quite enjoyed the fish-out-of-water references to "new" technology. I recommend it to anyone who wonders what their life will be like in ten years!
Monday, April 29, 2013
Saturday, April 27, 2013
I was inspired to make these campfire cupcakes by the cookies I found here. I really love camping and one of the best things about camping, in my opinion, is to build a big fire and sit around it talking for hours (making s'mores is also pretty great) so I knew I wanted to make these as soon as I saw them!
All I needed was an occasion to make them and one presented itself today. Tashena's youth group at her church held a benefit dinner tonight to raise money for camp this summer. There was a bake sale, a silent auction, and a live auction (I got into a bidding war with someone during the live auction over some Utah football tickets but I emerged victorious). All of the girls were asked to donate some cookies and cupcakes for the bake sale and I offered to make some cupcakes for Tashena to donate. I thought campfire cupcakes to raise money for camp was quite appropriate!
Making these cupcakes is quite involved so I suggest you bake the cupcakes in advance, otherwise this could be an all-day proposition. I made chocolate cupcakes Thursday night and stored them in the freezer until this morning. Crush some Oreo cookies in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin. Frost the cupcakes with some chocolate frosting and then dunk them into the crushed cookies (dirt). Arrange some candy coated "rocks" around the perimeter of the cupcakes (fire pit). I found these (they're called choco-rocks) at WinCo in the bulk foods section. I bought 1/2 pound and had plenty for two dozen cupcakes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place about 1/4 cup of flaked coconut in three small ziploc bags. Tint the three bags red, orange, and yellow with food coloring. Place a few drop of color in the bag, seal it, and smoosh it with your fingers until all of the coconut is colored. Place the coconut on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for approximately 8 minutes, stirring once. While the coconut cools, dip some pretzel sticks in melted chocolate and place on wax paper to set up. Place some of the colored coconut in the center of the cupcake (fire). Prop three pretzel sticks together over the coconut (logs).
These are quite a bit of work but I think they are so adorable! They were a big hit at the bake sale. One woman bought ten of them! Give them a try!
Note: Speaking of campfires, we have managed to have quite a few fires in my parents' fire pit this spring despite the fact that we have had some major snowstorms. I spent several hours sitting in front of the fire tonight and I look forward to many more evenings spent in a similar manner this summer!
Friday, April 26, 2013
My cousin Merry recently mentioned to me that she had never been to the symphony. When I asked her if she would like to go some time, her response was a resounding yes! Merry is autistic and even though I talk about spending time with her I sometimes have a problem following through. I made it a point to follow through this time and I got tickets for this evening's Utah Symphony concert. Marilyn joined us and met us downtown for dinner. From the moment I picked her up until the moment we got to the restaurant (about a 45 minute drive), Merry told me story after story. She then proceeded to tell Marilyn the same exact stories all through dinner! She is an absolute riot! When she first walked into Abravanel Hall, her eyes got really big and she yelled, "Wow!" That moment alone was worth the price of the tickets! The concert was absolutely lovely and began with a piece from my favorite composer. The orchestra played Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 with soloist Yu Kosuge, who was wonderful. This is one of Mozart's most dramatic works and I think it is dark, tragic, passionate, and emotional. I really like the themes played by the woodwinds (you may recall that I played the clarinet in school). After the intermission the orchestra played Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz. I would, once again, use the word dramatic to describe this piece. It is about an artist who dies because of unrequited love and was written to get the attention of an actress named Harriet Smithson, with whom Berlioz fell madly in love after seeing her perform. I wait through the entire symphony just to get to the final movement for the melancholy theme played by the brass and chimes. I get goose bumps every time I hear it! Merry was fascinated by all of the percussion. At one point there were six musicians playing the timpani at once! After the concert, Merry yelled out that she loved it! I did too!
Thursday, April 25, 2013
This afternoon I took a group of my AVID and English students to see a performance of No Time For Sergeants at Hale Theatre. Every year HCT gives students free tickets to their spring production (you can read about Zorro here and A Tale of Two Cities here). I derive so much enjoyment from watching live theatre so I really appreciate HCT for giving my students this opportunity. For some of them, this is their first theatre experience. I did see this show last night but this afternoon I was able to see another cast (HCT double casts all of their shows) for a different perspective. The actors today had very different interpretations of their characters than last night's cast and it was interesting to compare them. I think I prefer Brandon Green as Will Stockdale, although Justin Bruse did an excellent job. I thought the show was extremely funny last night but I wondered if my students would appreciate the humor. I needn't have worried because they were all laughing within the first few minutes. They all loved the scenes with the latrine and they laughed out loud when they saw Will and Ben hanging from a parachute caught in a tree. My students were so well-behaved and every one of them thanked me for taking them when we got back to school. Sometimes my job is extremely rewarding!