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Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Root"-ing for my Husband

Hello! Yes, feel free to chastize my lack of posts for...a long time. Today the stars have aligned; today I have absolutely NO WHERE to be, the WHOLE lovely day. Granted I have (had...slowly crossing them off) 33 things that would like to be accomplished. But, you know... Eenie Meenie Miney Moe has dictated that "Write blog on gift for husband" was the next one.

I took an idea from pinterest and made it my own. (Otherwise known as "see cute idea, want to replicate...not remotely possible...) I love giving gifts and my dear husband adores root beer. We're the sort of people never to buy soda. The only time it is consumed is when someone else brings it to social gatherings.  The box on the right contained shirts I found at Plato's Closet that screamed "please buy me!" 

Yes, I wrote a "poem." Yes, I understand that a poem doesn't have to rhyme. Am I capable of writing a non-rhyming poem? I actually don't know... Are rhymes much cooler? Yes. 

However, it took me an hour. It wasn't supposed to take that long. I got the first two lines down easy. 

You know I'm with you, all the way through. 
Just know that I am "root"-ing for you.

Then I got stuck. I couldn't end it there. Lame. So I wanted to say why I was "root"-ing for him. 

School can be hard; I know what it's like.
Just think of Frodo and Sam's extremely long hike. 

This is where the trouble began. The previous lines didn't say a complete thought so I was left to write even more. I would write something I thought was clever, but then either nothing rhymed or nothing rhymed that fit. Finally:

They are both unpaved with unknowns ahead                         (yes, in the actual poem I misspelled          
And where the unknowns are best left unsaid.                           unpaved and put unpaid) Ugh. 

At this point it sounded almost creepy and all doom and gloom. And it STILL wasn't a complete thought. The next two lines were even more hard because I had to end it... All I knew was that fun and begun rhymed (more or less) and that my last line rocked (to me). But how in the world was I supposed to 1) get the correct number of syllables in a complete sentence that 2) actually made sense. Finally, after much ado:

The journey is long, except our's is for fun
Besides, our adventure has just begun!

I like romantic cheese. Don't you? 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New calling

Hello folks. Well, it's official, I'm now 2nd counselor in the Primary Presidency. Eeek! I was not expecting it in the least and to be honest I'm a bit sad about not being the music person in primary anymore. It is the MOST fun calling ever. Well, until they call someone else, I'll still do it, but still...

I AM excited about continuing to work with the kids. They are incredibly sweet. I know, I know, everyone says that and before being in Primary I wouldn't have known what they meant. Yeah, kids are cool, and they say funny things, but they are incredible people just beginning to plant the seeds of the gospel. Our primary has some special needs, like I am sure all primaries do. Many children do not come from rock solid backgrounds and they may not get all the spiritual nutrients they need. So I am excited to serve them in a different capacity.

For my farewell music time activity (sorry, no pictures) I filled 8 mason jars with a clear liquid--four were with straight up water, and four had vinegar diluted with some water. In front of each jar was a spoon containing a few drops of food coloring covered with baking soda. Whatever color the water turned into was the song we sang. If it turned fizzy we did something extra special with the song. (Note...I didn't always do something special with all the fizzy ones...) I don't think the kids noticed/cared. They simply loved the chemical reaction.

The night before I was experimenting with how much vinegar to water ratio to be sure the bubbles didn't overflow during primary. Good thing, too, because the first, second, and third time I tried a mess was created in the kitchen.

I think the kids loved it and it was a great way to review the songs for the program. They really know them and since our program isn't until November I think next week we'll learn the Latter-day Prophet song.

Any of you seasoned (or less seasoned) primary presidency veterans out there have any ideas for sharing time, PLEASE let me know. :) Shoot me an email if you need. Thanks!

And here is a random picture of fish I took during our Florida beach trip. Blogs with pictures are always more fun.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Favorite Influential Children's Books

In all honesty, this post's subject should be part of a series. I LOVE picture books. There is just something about them that is purely magical. I loved them as a kid, but as an adult I am realizing how much I learned from them--how much they shaped my dreams and my ambitions, how much they guided my actions in choosing the right.  And sometimes they even became a curious influence on my personality.

Below are some of my favorite books. By no means is the list complete.

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban

The main character, Frances, is a picky eater. The only thing she will eat is bread and jam! Her mother, instead of forcing her to eat what is prepared for the entire family, consents to France's request to eat only bread and jam. Soon enough, however, Frances gets tired of bread and jam and notices her friend's lunch which consists of a feast containing a cream cheese, cucumber, and tomato sandwich on rye bread, a pickle, a hard boiled egg and little containers of salt and pepper to go with it, and a thermos bottle of milk, a bunch of grapes, tangerine, and a cup custard and a spoon to eat it with. Frances looks at her friend eat his lunch as he makes each of the foods come out even. Gradually Frances realizes the joy of a variety of food and comes to school the next day with a thermos cream of tomato soup, lobster salad sandwich on thin white bread, celery, carrot sticks, and black olives. a little carton of salt for the celery, two plumbs, a tiny basket of cherries, and a vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles. But best of all, she makes it come out even.  

This book inspired many a school lunch. The variety of foods in the book just tantalized my taste buds, but as often as I tried, I could never make my food come out even. 

Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss

A review from another writer: "Poor Horton. Dr. Seuss's kindly elephant is persuaded to sit on an egg while its mother, the good-for-nothing bird lazy Maysie, takes a break. Little does Horton know that Maysie is setting off for a permanent vacation in Palm Springs. He waits, and waits, never leaving his precarious branch, even through a freezing winter and a spring that's punctuated by the insults of his friends. ("They taunted. They teased him. They yelled 'How Absurd! Old Horton the Elephant thinks he's a bird!'") Further indignities await, but Horton has the patience of Job--from whose story this one clearly derives--and he is rewarded in the end by the surprise birth of... an elephant-bird." 

This book taught be, above all else, perseverance and enduring to the end through the storms of life. Horton never gave up! Life may be hard at times, but in the end, it turns out just fine. 

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

Another writer's review: "Alice Rumphius lived with her grandfather. She wanted to grow up to be just like him -- travel, live by the sea. He said she had to do one more thing -- "You must do something to make the world more beautiful." Throughout the course of the story, Alice grows up, travels, and moves by the sea. Still discouraged about her third life purpose, Miss Rumphius finally finds her own way to make the world more beautiful and to pass along the message of her grandfather." 

This book taught me to find a fullness of life no matter which direction life took. But not only is there joy to be found in the simple pleasures of life, one must seek for it and choose to be happy. Miss. Rumphius was never married, but she found other ways to enjoy a full life. This is a great example of non-radical feminism. 

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: Written and illustrated by John Steptoe

The king as asked that the most beautiful daughters in all the land join him so that he make pick his bride from the most beautiful of them all. Daughter number 1 is proud, haughty, and vain. She makes fun of her sister and along the way to the king is rude to all those she comes across. Daughter number 2 loves her sister. She tends a little garden and becomes friends with a snake. On the path to the kingdom she demonstrates her love for everyone and is truly selfless. You can guess who the king chooses in the end. (PS, there is a surprise ending!)

I love this book because it illustrates the importance of being selfless and kind. But above all else, the pictures are divine.

Oh, Brother by Arther Yorinks and illustrated by Richard Eigelski

This book speaks to the power of brotherhood. These twins are constantly bickering, leading to them becoming lost as sea. They are constantly getting into trouble and are finally stopped by a kind, old gentleman who gives them a home, food, and teaches them his trade. In the end the boys recognize true kindness and find their parents again through hilarious circumstances. 

Although I love my sister, Kellie, dearly, there were a few years when we clashed and got along less often than not. This book reminded me of the enduring love we had for each other. Today I consider Kellie one of my best friends. 

Roxaboxen by Barbara Cooney

I can not praise this book enough. Roxaboxen simply spoke to my imagination as a child and continues to do so. How I longed for a place isolated from the world like Roxaboxen. Roxaboxen is a place where the children of the town were simply children who imagined great battles (boys against girls), made forts, and had their own town lined with desert glass. They even had a cemetery, but the only thing in it was a lizard. 

A review can not do it justice. I tried. 

The Clown of God by Tomie DePaola

Another Review: "In this retelling of the old French legend, a juggler offers to the Christ Child the only Christmas gift he has. The full-color pictures with subtle tonal modulations are an integral part of the design of the lumious pages full of movement and vitality. The Italianate aspects of the setting are beautifully realized." 

This books makes me cry every time I read it. It taught me at a young age that making others happy made God happy and that anything good can be and is a spiritual gift. It also taught me that the smallest offering is great in God's eyes. God loves his children very, very much and knows even the least of them. 

Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco

Another's review:  "This is the story of how young Patricia Polacco's wise Russian grandmother helped her get over a fear of thunderstorms. On summer days Patricia hates to hear the rumbling thunder of a storm in the distance. She fears “the sound of thunder more than anything.” But her grandmother, Babushka, knows exactly what to do – it’s time to make Thunder Cake. Thunder Cake is special; it must be made while the storm is brewing and finished just as the storm arrives. Although Patricia is scared, she helps Babushka collect the ingredients for the cake on the farm. As they gather and bake, Babushka teaches Patricia how to count the seconds between the thunder and the lightning to figure out how far away the storm is. Patricia says she’s still scared of the storm, but Babushka brushes her fear aside pointing out all the things Patricia did to collect ingredients for the cake, things only a brave person could do. “Brave people can’t be afraid of a sound, child.”

As always, Polacco’s illustrations are intricate and evocative. Babushka is at once stern, strong and warmly comforting. Polacco has carefully rendered items that make this old farm come to life: beautiful wood furniture, metal milk cans, and old-fashioned wooden butter churns. The resemblance between the girl and her grandmother is obvious in their matching smiles and similar ways of standing. The text is balanced between dialogue and narrative and feels much like a story that would be told by the fire on a stormy night. Counting the seconds between the thunder and lightning pushes the story along and adds a touch of urgency. The last page of the book includes the recipe for Thunder Cake." 
When I was younger, I was afraid of nearly everything--thunder, fire trucks, fire, earthquakes, tornados... and even more things made me nervous. This book helped me overcome my fears by realizing that fear doesn't have to paralyze me. It was great to find a character I could so readily identify with. 


What are your favorite children's books? I would love to know! 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Starburst Singing Time

Well, Hello. It has been awhile since I last posted about Singing Time. Most of the time I just forget to take pictures. A few Sunday's ago I had the kids pick out starbursts from a bag and whatever color they chose is the activity, ect. that we did.

I used two bags to get eight different flavors. Each of the categories consisted of a different group of songs, i.e. favorites or songs they don't know as well. Our new song was an easy one to learn. It was the one about how to pray. "I begin by saying dear Heavenly Father. I thank him for blessings he sends. Then humbly I ask him for things that I need. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." They got it only after 3 or 4 run-throughs. I also decided we needed a break from singing the program songs; I could tell they were getting a bit burned out. Well, to tell you the truth, it wasn't very hard to tell. Sighs, groans, and "not that song again" sort of tipped it off.

What I learned:

The kids knew more songs than I thought! I included several songs that I believe every primary should know, but I wasn't sure if our primary knew them. Many of the kids do not come every week, and as a result do not know the music as well. Also, the vast majority of the kids do not have parents who know the songs because they are converts and therefore do not sing the songs at home. This is totally OK, of course, it just makes singing time more challenging than it otherwise could be.

Sigh. If I thought far enough ahead I would have made the glasses containing the different categories cute and complete with labels. Oh well. Next time.

Candy is a good motivator to be quiet. I will not call on people who are not being reverent, however, I gave everyone who did not have a chance to pick during primary a piece or two of candy after primary. I instructed them to put the starburst in their pocket and wait until after church to eat it. I was very pleased with their decision to Choose the Right!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The importance of structure

I am one of those people who, without structure in their lives, falls apart and feels like bleh. Upon finding myself bidding farewell to the student life, the lack of structure has lent itself to feelings of unproductiveness. I learned to give myself a break and say "You know, Rachel, you probably were productive. And it is OK for you not to be 100%productiveeverysinglemomentoftheday."

However the time has come for structure to play a more vital role in my life. I wanted to feel like I have accomplished something that day, not just know. In school I had very specific expectations and a very rigid structure. It consisted of something like:
1) Go to class a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h (yes, I often had 7-8 classes. Music student.
2) Practice 3 hours a day on top of ensemble playing time
3) Eat food
4) Teach X number of students
5) Do homework...
6) Play in this concert
7) Attend that recital

My day would often look like this as an undergraduate:
Practice from 8-10
Class from 10-11
Class from 11-12
Eat lunch 12-12:30
Do homework from 12:30-1
Quintet practice from 1-2
Class from 2-3
Practice from 3-4
Flute lesson from 4-5
Flute class from 5-7.

Although it was stressful at times, looking back, the vast majority of my time at BYU was fun. I felt so accomplished after I walked out of the practice room for the last time that day. I mean, look at that schedule. No wonder I felt productive.

So I devised a reward system to help me accomplish more/feel more productive. It consists of Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and Quarterly tasks. There are also small, medium, big, and large tasks.

Daily Tasks:             Reward: Watch a TV show
  1. Write in Journal
  2. Read scriptures
  3. Do dishes
  4. Clean 50 things
  5. Small thing #1
  6. Small thing #2
  7. Practice flute or piano
  8. One weekly task
  9. Singing time OR small thing #3 OR another weekly task OR medium thing OR a big thing OR monthly task OR Dinner
  10. Singing time OR Small thing #4 OR Medium thing OR another weekly task OR a big thing OR monthly task OR Dinner
  11. Singing time OR Small thing #5 OR Medium thing OR another weekly task OR a big thing OR monthly task OR Dinner
  12. Organize/declutter one part of the house or other pertinent item 
Weekly Tasks: If I complete all the weekly tasks I get 1 Goodwill point
  1. Vacuum
  2. Clean bathroom
  3. Write blog
  4. Dust
  5. Do laundry
  6. Fold laundry
  7. One monthly task
  8. One monthly task
  9. Go grocery shopping
  10. Clean mirrors
  11. Meals to make for the following week
  12. One Medium task

Monthly tasks: If I complete all my monthly tasks and weekly tasks: we go out to dinner OR SOMETHING ELSE I CHOOSE
  1. Vacuum cushions
  2. Budget for the month
  3. Pay Rent
  4. Monthly report for work
  5. Sweep porch
  6. Buy music for students: 
  7. Clean freezer
  8. Clean fridge
  9. Something quarterly
  10. Spot clean carpet
  11. Visit Diane
  12. Visit Jennifer
  13. Visit Maxine
  14. Visit Kelly
  15. Email Family
  16. Pay RFF
  17. Write tithing and fast offering check
  18. Write check for ATT bill
  19. Visiting teaching report
  20. Organize emails
Smalls tasks include: 
    1. Clean off rust stain on bathtub
    2.  Make flip chart for Stars were gleaming
    3. Renew Costco membership
    4. organize food in lower cupboard
    5. Ect (I currently have over 30)
Medium tasks include: (reward: 1 goodwill point)
    1. Take in heals to get fixed
    2. Clean oven WELL
    3. make rhythm game with dice
    4. ect. (currently over 15)
Medium tasks are ones that might take a bit more effort and planning or ones I dread doing. 

Big tasks include: 
    1. Digitize my pictures
    2. Digitize David's pictures
    3. Organize digital photos into years and copy them onto a CD
    4. Make 15 Christmas cards
    5. Finish quote book
    6. ect. 
These rewards include going out for ice cream, $1 from i tunes, or something similar

Large tasks include:
    1. Learn how to crochet a snowflake like Grandma--Buy something from cooking store
    2. Print new pictures and scrapbook them--buy two decorative pillows for bed
    3. Make book of wedding cards--buy a small ladle
    4. ect.
This works for me because I have a relatively large amount of free time. I only work 20 hours a week. Each goodwill point is worth one item I am allowed to buy from Goodwill. I like this system because it is flexible by allowing me to choose what I want to work on that day. If I can tell it is going to be a lousy day, I can pick easy tasks. 

Anyway, that is what works for me! 

Saturday, August 4, 2012


I'm sure most of you all have heard of the 5 love languages. I have realized that I have dabbled in just about every language and lately my love language is gifts. Gifts aren't necessarily things that are paid for; I equate gifts with surprises. I LOVE surprises--it means someone was thinking of me.

For example, recently I have received gifts from some of my youngest students. It just makes me smile! At least they think I'm a good teacher.

I'm loved!

I also love giving gifts. That is my excuse for shopping at goodwill so frequently. Most of the time I buy things for other people. Maybe that's why I have a stack of books, 2 boxes, and a suitcase full of gifts. I should stop. Yeah. Our apartment is rather small, afterall.

Food gifts is also something I love giving. When I was young, spry, and single, it was a very effective method of flirting. I got many a date out of this bread:

These are pre-frosted cupcakes I made for my dad a month ago when we met my family at the airport for a layover. Let's just say I knew how much he loved them by how many he ate. :)

One thing I miss about Provo was the proximity of our friends and fellow ward members. It was so easy to make something and give half of it away.

It takes more effort now, so I don't do it as often, unfortunately. Although, we had a member of our ward recently move into our apartment complex, so he has received some yummies recently: :)

These are melt-in-your-mouth-I ate-my-weight-in-pretzel-bites. Yeah. Pinterest was designed for me.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Dekalb Farmer's Market

Yesterday David and I discovered/ finally went to what I consider one of Atlanta's jewels. The Dekalb Farmer's market, isn't so much a farmer's market, but a combination of Whole Foods, Sunflower Market, and Costco.

Why Whole Foods? There are tons of organic items, fresh fish, shellfish, and meat. They had even had ground buffalo, and a larger selection of cheeses than Costco and Wholefoods combined. I appreciated that they had tiny portions of some of the cheese to purchase.

Why Sunflower Market? I have always longed for a store like Sunflower in Atlanta. As you know, I love Aldi because of the cheap, but high quality of produce. The downside is their minimal selection of items. Sunflower was fantastic because they had an above average selection of produce, including those never seen at your run-of-the-mill grocery store like white asparagus and escarole. Not to mention, but the prices were much better than other stores. The Dekalb Farmer's Market has an even larger variety of produce, many of which I had never seen before. We saw dragon fruit, bread fruit, 5 varieties of bok choy, muskadines, unusual varieties of mushrooms, and other things I can't think of. Their ethnic sections are also to die for. It's great when you can find authentic curry ingredients. It's unbelievable when you have 7 options for the same ingredient. I also adore Sunflower because of their bulk section. I have been craving homemade granola, but all the little ingredients needed add up. See below for the prices for some of those ingredients.

Why Costco? It is huge, and about the same size. Ok, half the size, but the market is inside a warehouse.

To get your mouth watering, I've listed the items we purchased with the amount we spent above.

Cucumber: $.39 each (The cheapest I have seen ANYWHERE is $.50 each

That's right, Kalamata olives for $1.01

Red Pepper: $.82 (for this particular one)

I finally found different types of lentils! Turkish Organic Yellow split lentils: $2.85 and Turkish Organic Red Lentil for $2.31.

I can't believe I found this much: cream of tartar for $1.82, hungarian paprika for $1.64, sesame seeds $.62, and poppy seeds for $.65.

Cinnamon sticks for $1.32!

Grape tomatoes for $1.69.

Green onions for $.49 per bunch.

5 bunches of basil for a total of $6.45.

Granny Smith Apples for a total of $2.99, we purchased 3 lbs. (Anywhere else and you are paying more than $3.50 per pound.)

Authentic Vidalia Onions for a total of $1.99.

Large, gorgeous limes for a total of $1.49 for 3 lbs.

Poblano peppers for $1.39

I can't find my beloved seasoned rice vinegar anywhere, and if I do spy it, it is over $3. I found it here for a mere $2.29.

Delishious french bread, half a loaf for $2.29. This was a tad more expensive than I like paying for bread, but I really wanted good, white bread for french toast.

Most stores don't have Conchigloni, or large shells. I purchased these for $2.99. Yes, yes, that is a lot, but I REALLY want stuffed shells.

Yes, I like love dishes that use coconut milk. Each can cost $.79. The least I have seen anywhere else is $1.09.

Remember those granola ingredients. Low and behold: Organic wheat Germ for $1.07.

And lastly cilantro for $.49 a bunch.

All this for a total of $44.11 with tax.

Visit us in Atlanta and I'll take you there. :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I live in the bible belt and love it

I certainly never received any mail like this when I lived in Utah:

And here is "my prophesy." In all reality, "my future" could be applied to anyone. Which I think is kind of cool.

The next couple of pictures show the testimonies of those who have used the prayer rug.

Although I personally believe these good people are slightly misguided and don't have the entire truth, I think it is awesome that their prayers are answered. They are incredibly grateful and have faith in God.

This is the prayer rug.

For the most part, these requests are quite modest.

I never mailed it along. :)