Monday, January 31, 2011

In giving you receive...

Alright, so here goes. My friends are all doing it, I figure its time to jump on the bandwagon.

I have been eager to give back to my friends and family who give so much to me. Now here is the chance.

I promise to send something homemade to the first 5 people who leave a comment here. If you're not someone I see on a regular basis, then you will need to email me your address. My email is:

I know, I'm a married woman now, I should change it. But it would be such a hassle since all the faculty in the music department at ISU already has my email listed as the one above. It is my goal to change it this summer, I promise.

My friends that are doing this are also leaving the condition that you must post on your blog, facebook status, or twitter that you will do it too....

I will leave that up to you, your conscience and you crafting abilities...It could even just be a construction paper card, though...just a thought.

I have some big things on the horizon (maybe I will be brave enough to post more later on that) but in the mean time, I promise all my friends that comment that it will get to you sometime in 2011. I will even warn you when its coming!

Hooray for crafting. This should be fun! :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just one of those days...

I know, its been a little while since I've written. To be honest, there just hasn't been much to post about. I am back to boring, regular life.

Boring, regular life with hours and hours of rehearsing...

I ended up with 3 big leads in the opera workshop scene is about 60 pages long, and the director gave us an assignment of learning notes and rhythms for 35 pages! 35 pages! Then I had about 5 for one scene and 6 for another... Then, when you add to that the crazy hard Bach piece that we're doing in Chamber Choir, I feel like I'm married to a practice room...I'm not complaining (okay, maybe I am a little bit) but I do remember having a life, and with this much music I barely am finding a enough time to sleep, let alone cook for and spend time with my husband...

Alas, I digress, I'm sure the day will come when I will be extremely grateful for the time that I had here at ISU, maybe even for this crazy time in particular... you never know the lessons you will learn and the experiences that will be burned onto your cerebral cortex (okay, I'm not sure if that is where lessons are burned onto, but I think it sounds much more like I'm a smarty pants, and sometimes I like thinking I'm smart.)

Yesterday was one of THOSE days...

You know, those days that start with kind of upsetting news, but instead of rising above it you end up letting it set the tone for the whole day.

I won't bore you right now with what event occurred to set the tone of the day (maybe I will someday, but right now, I'm just not feeling like I want to share) needless to say, it wasn't earth shattering information, but it bummed me out and I seemed to be stuck under a dark cloud for the rest of the day.

I was finally at the end of my day, sitting at work, feeling sorry for myself, and I'd had enough!...Why was I letting some news that shouldn't have necessarily bummed me out for the rest of the day do just that...why was I letting the gray cloud that was hanging out over my head win?!

I was thinking, racking my brain, trying to come up with something, ANYTHING, to make me feel better. Praying to God that my attitude would change and I would stop being so glum.

It was then that it hit me like a ton of bricks. That still small voice of the spirit spoke and I was completely side tracked and slightly confused.

"There must needs be opposition in all things."

Opposition in all things...what is the point of that thought? Why tell me that?

I didn't get it at first, it took me taking it step by step, thought by thought to finally grasp what God was trying to tell me...

What is the opposite of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day...?

A super awesome, spectacular, wonderful, splendiforous, glorious day...

Then I understood...

We have sad, depressing, downright blue days so that we can know when we have an awesome day, so that we can cherish that awesome day and hold onto the hope that either it won't end, or we will get to have another one the next day.

Bad days test our ability to hold on to hope...

They test our ability to hold onto the hope that tomorrow will be that awesome day that we want so badly...the hope makes our bad days less bad in an instant, because when you have hope, you have a glimmer of light, a small sliver of happiness to cling to to chase the dark clouds away.

I'm not going to lie. This thought stuck with me, but I was still in the middle of a humdrum, Eeyore type of day. I went home, snuggled up next to Jeff, told him about my terrible, horrible day and had a good cry. However, as I was having that good cry, I said these words out loud over and over again.

"It doesn't matter. Bad days exist so we know when we have a good one." I said it over and over again in my head, and a few more times out loud. Jeff rocked me, held me, kissed my forehead, and let me cry. He tried to find ways to make me feel better, and tried to find things to say to make me feel better...

That was the beginning of a slightly better evening...

Today wasn't that awesome day I was clinging to hope for...but it was better than yesterday, and I suspect and hope tomorrow will be better too.

Here are a few things that made me smile today:

1) I was walking down the street and I saw a dude with blonde facial hair, the thought struck me, "Blonde facial hair only looks good on Hulk Hogan, and it doesn't even look that good on him." I giggled a little bit, I will admit. It wasn't exactly the nicest thought, but I found it a bit silly and definitely random.

2) DLF and Ms.Lane said, "There is no shame in admitting you don't know what part you are supposed to be singing in this scene. Now, is there anyone in this room that doesn't know what part they are supposed to be singing?" The devilish thought came to mind to raise my hand...I giggled a little (I have one of the main would be pretty ridiculous if I didn't know, but the thought of being a silly nilly and raising my hand made me smile.)

3) Letting my friends in Woodwind Methods class listen to my Goose Call...I told Jeff he should take me hunting when he goes out to shoot ducks and geese...We all had a bit of a laugh. (Pl.S. I officially stink on the clarinet...I'm getting marginally better, but I still suck. Maybe I will rock it out on the recorder instead like THIS...Awesome hair, brooding and all...)

4) John Primrose- "Man, I'm having a blah day." Me-"Oh, I'm sorry love!" (HUG) "Okay, I'm better now, I think I just needed me a dose of Brittany Nielson."

5) Tonya Branson- "Oh, Brittany, I love your little pony tail, its so cute!"

6) Me- "Jeff, how hungry are you?" Jeff- "Pretty hungry. I think I could eat a couple of Totinos right now." Me- "Well, I'm thinking of making meatloaf for dinner, but it will take atleast 45 minutes..." Jeff-"(cutting me off) I can wait." Me- "Are you sure? Because I can make spaghetti.." Jeff- "(Cutting me off again) I can wait (smile)."

7) Jeff shoveled down 2 helpings of meatloaf in the ten minutes he had to eat before class and then asking me for a tupperware filled with it for a third helping. He then said, "I need to con you into giving me that recipe." Me- "Well, I guess it could come in handy if I'm not here to make it for you...(giggle)" Jeff just smiled, and kissed me. (P.S. Meatloaf recipe can be found on my Recipe Blog HERE .)

In the meantime loves, I hope if you've been having a bad day you can find the hope of a better day to cling to. I think it makes all the difference. You may still need to have a good cry, and I highly recommend it...but try to remember that there are many awesome days ahead. Focus on things that make you smile and you will find a little shimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Hugs and loves until next time darlings!

Monday, January 17, 2011

My secret affair...

Its true...

I can't keep it a secret any longer...

I am currently involved in a deep, secret love affair...

with the bowl of oranges on my table...LOL

I just can't seem to get enough. It started last Monday. I went to the grocery store and bought 5 oranges (they were on sale)...I ate one, I ate two...I ate three...I went through all 5 oranges in about a day and a half...

Then, Saturday Jeff and I went grocery shopping...I bought 7 more, thinking I would have one for every day...

Yeah, there are 2 left.

Beyond my secret love affair with my oranges, I have just been feeling off. I can't quite put my finger on it. I just don't feel right...

However, life and time continue to march on. Today I have been extremely domestic. I deep cleaned my kitchen, vacuumed the living room (deep vacuumed, we're talking taking that little brush thing with the hose to the corners and moving furniture), and swept and mopped the entry way and kitchen and I went through my shoes and decided which ones need to find a new home...My house smells like bleach...I did laundry...all by myself(Jeff usually helps me)...CRAZY!

All the while I was cleaning, I couldn't help but think to myself, "I was born to do this." It seems so odd to me that cleaning the house just feels "right" but it does...add this to the fact that I made lunch and called my husband home from his never-ending study session for his Advanced Digital Theory class when it was done (because he's a smarty pants), and I find that today I was living the perfect 1950s housewife existence...and I couldn't be happier about it...LOL

However, I lost my energy burst and I'm beginning to think that the bedroom and bathroom will just have to wait for the deep cleaning treatment...Alas, the call of our lovely futon is just too much for me...Plus I still have laundry to go grab (enter my one moment of irritation today when I went to go move laundry from a washer to a dryer to find that someone had taken the wet clothes out of the washer and had left them of my major pet peeves...ahh the joys of communal laundry)

Its all good. I am watching SNL the best of Mike Meyers on VH1, giggling at Sprockets (Now is the time we dance!) and I am waiting for my husband to come home...I am also involved in the great debate with eat one of my two remaining oranges, or not to eat....

It is quite the conundrum.

Just a peek into my boring but productive day.

Hugs and loves until next time darlings!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year, New Brittany

I've been debating whether or not I wanted to post about this. I guess I feel like I ramble at times, but I also find that my ramblings tend to be the words that touch people most- go figure.

Its a new year, and people all over the country are going to say that their resolution is to lose weight.

I stopped doing the resolution thing about 7 years ago. I'll spare you the story, suffice it to say, I didn't make it 2 seconds into the new year before I broke my resolution and I had a group of friends to remind me of it...constantly.

Since then, I've made it a point to learn something new and useful during the new year.

I have since learned how to change the oil in my car and a tire, how to can food brought in fresh from a garden, how to hand sew clothes and costumes (basically because I can't sew a straight line with a sewing machine to save my life but do excellent work by hand), how to knit, how to decorate cakes...the list goes on and on.

This year, as my friends talked about their resolutions, many of them talked about losing weight- they were going on a diet.

I have to admit, part of me wanted to join them.

I have had body image issues for a very long time. I grew up with a perfect, model-esque older sister, and a tiny perfect little sister...and then there was me. I was chubby.

I couldn't escape it. No matter how hard I tried, my body wouldn't let me lose weight. I ate like a bird, I would go to town with an old "Sweatin' to the Oldies" no avail. I hated my body...I hated being me. I wished over and over again to be my older sister. She always had a date for Homecoming and the prom, she was even nominated for Homecoming Royalty her senior year...she had boyfriends...

I sat at home. I did my friends' hair and makeup for dances. What was wrong with me? I was nice, I tried to do everything I could to be "pretty" and fit in- but I felt horribly out of place. I felt like the ugly duckling, only I felt like I had no chance to be turned into a swan.

The only place I felt in my element was in a choir class, singing to work through my emotions, or in a drama class- the one place I could pretend to be someone else without judgement. I loved my art, I was good at it, I found solace in it.

Instead of dating I had extra time and asked teachers for extra credit work and extra assignments... I got really into stage makeup and drama competitions- anyone who knew me knew I was the drama teacher's go-to gal...I ended up being a lot of teachers' go- to gal. Kids I went to school with knew I was a good study partner, and would clamor to have me in groups because they knew I'd do everything and they wouldn't have to do anything at all.

I accepted this as my fate. I waited and longed for high school to be over...I thought that perhaps if I had a fresh start things would be different.

College came. I made friends, and the fresh start seemed to be what I needed, at first. I found solace and acceptance in the music building with other music majors, I started to understand God's love for me through the love of a wonderful bishop...but I was still miserable.I had somehow managed to gain 40 pounds in a year- I didn't understand how that could be possible- I ate like a rabbit. I literally only ate at the salad bar my whole freshman year. I felt like a prisoner in my own body. I wasn't hugely fat, but I would find myself constantly comparing myself to the other girls in my ward. The boys I liked and had crushes on inevitably dated the "skinny" model types- I was the eternal best friend.

I started to loathe myself again.

Finally, I was sick of the never-ending diets. I was sick of hating myself. A friend of mine in high school had been diagnosed with insulin resistance. I had asked her about it in high school, and she had suggested that I give being tested for it a try. I wasn't brave enough to ask my parents to take me to the doctor- how do you ask for something like that?

"Mom,dad, I'm miserable, I hate myself and I think I may be sick." yeah, that would go over real well...

I guess I'd finally had enough. On the outside I was smiling, bubbly and warm- on the inside I was a self-loathing mess. I finally realized that I couldn't lead the double life anymore. I couldn't pretend to be happy when inside I was a mess.

I talked to my mom. We cried. She couldn't believe the baggage I'd been carrying around. Comments made by family members about my weight, friends, etc...all of them played as constant negative tapes in the back of my head- constantly ruining my happiness.

We made an appointment- the doctor was a jerk- I remember his words, "Well, you're in college, a lot of people gain the 'Freshman 15'. I think you're overreacting." My mom fought for me. I'm glad she did. I remember her words..I was so dumbfounded by this jerk doctor that I was numb and didn't know what to say. "Well, if it is the freshman 15, her tests will be negative and it will be our financial burden to bear, not yours. If my daughter says she is sick, I believe her. She needs help, and if you won't help us, we will find someone that will."

The doctor gave us the needed referral to another doctor for the insulin resistance test. He snarkily told us that we were barking up the wrong tree and that I just needed to get off the couch.

We ran the test. I remember meeting with my specialist for the first time to go over the test results. Dr.Vance said he was surprised that our primary care physician hadn't made a suggestion for the test sooner given my history. No normal person gains 60 pounds right after they start was a sign. The medical issues I'd had in high school with ovarian cysts...again, another sign. My test was very positive, and I WAS sick. It wasn't in my head.

I saw a nutritionist the next week.

For the next year I didn't eat sugar, potatoes, or regular pasta. I worked out every day for 30 minutes like the nutritionist suggested. I went from 200 pounds to teetering between 160 and 150. However, after a year, I went back. Dr. Vance couldn't see me, his senior partner did. I weighed in at 160. I was proud of that pride was short lived.

This other doctor- an older gentleman- said that after a year on the medication I should be "cured" of my insulin resistance, he was very "disappointed" with my progress. We scheduled a follow-up appointment in another month. His exact words were, "I hope we'll be seeing a lot LESS of you next month, if you catch my drift."

I knew what his drift was, I caught it...I was still overweight.

I felt like a failure. I had tried so hard and I thought I was doing so well. I was finally starting to accept my body and like a flash of light, this doctor took that from me.

I didn't go back for the follow-up.

I spent the next two years eating nothing but spinach and chicken, I worked out for 3-4 hours a day during the week, an hour on Saturday and only rested on Sunday. I got down to 137...the skinniest I'd been since junior high where I'd weighed in between 120 and 125...

I was skinner...I was miserable...the negative tapes still played. I was never going to be good enough.

I had finally had my first kiss during this time, only to get my heart broken the next day.

I had my first was an emotionally abusive relationship. He constantly made quips about my weight and made me feel like I was so "lucky" to be with him. He made me feel like I would never find anyone as good as him, and then he dumped me for a model-esque 18 year old girl who had just graduated from high school.

I worked endlessly for perfection. I HAD to be perfect...I needed to know what it would feel like to finally be perfect.

I graduated from college. I headed off to work on my masters degree. I ended up living alone.

I think this is where my healing began.

I stopped working out until I was ready to puke. I finally started eating chocolate again. I decided that I was done fighting.

I had the love of a wonderful, small singles ward. I started to discover that it didn't matter what my size was, if I was working to help and care for those around me I was happy. I had all the necessary tools I needed to be the person I wanted to be.

I had started putting on weight again, but I figured it was the change in diet. I wasn't going to worry anymore.

I met a man that I thought was going to love me forever. Life was good. Life was great. I was following my passions, I was loved by those around me, and I was loving them back. I was trying my hardest to lead a Christ-centered life and I loved every minute of it.

Then, my world came crashing down.

The man that I thought was going to stand by my side, decided I wasn't what he wanted. His exact words burned into my head, "I've had my fun, but now I'm done."

What was wrong with me? Why didn't he want me?

To make matters worse, I was sick and didn't know why. I was tired ALL THE TIME. I would get a headache if I hadn't eaten and would be nauseous after I did eat. I wondered if it was depression.

My older sister got me an appointment with a doctor friend of hers. I went in and gave my medical history.

The doctor stopped me when I said I'd "had" insulin resistance. Her response, "Sweetie, you HAVE insulin resistance, you are never cured." She ordered a new insulin resistance test. My levels were worse than they'd been before. I was now dangerously close to diabetic. She got me back on medication. She gave me a new diet regime. She told me that she wanted to hold off on medicating for depression until I had been through a few months of treatment on the blood sugar meds.

Slowly, but surely, I came out of a haze. I worked my way through the phases of grieving for my broken heart. I contemplated not finishing my Masters degree.

But I realized something...I had let other people and their opinions regulate my entire life. I needed to do something for ME. I needed to finish this. Would it be hard to see my ex all the time- yes- but I am a strong girl and God loves me. He always makes sure I have the help I need.

Was is tough- absolutely, but that was the day that I decided that maybe the subjective opinions of others shouldn't hold as much sway as they often do...that was the day I decided that I wanted to learn to love myself.

Do I still struggle? Yes- resoundingly yes! I catch those negative tapes playing in the back of my head every now and again, I still have my "fat" days and I do everything I can to take my mind off of it and move on.

Things have changed so much since then. Its been almost 4 years.

I am now married to the most wonderful man on the planet. This man is living proof of God's love for me. He loved me so much he made me wait until I found someone who was "perfect" for me, until I found someone who had ideals and needs that matched what I needed and believed in my own life.

Bless that man.

He always tells me I'm beautiful. On days when I feel "fat" he grabs me, kisses me, and sweetly says, "No you're not" Who can argue with that?

I've been thinking about my "body issues" a lot over this weekend.

Jeff doesn't like it when I wear makeup- he loves my freckles. I get self conscious because of acne scars and dark circles...

We went to visit my family in Idaho Falls this weekend. We were going to go out to dinner on Friday but I didn't want to go anywhere public. I had gotten dressed but hadn't bothered with hair and makeup. I said that if we were going somewhere where we were going to "dine in" we needed to take some time for me to get ready.

We were with my older sister at the time. She laughed and said, "ready, schmeady you don't need to do anything special." Jeff laughed pointed at Amber and said, "See, listen to your sister."

I, hesitantly, went to dinner- sans makeup and hair routine.

Jeff had his arm around me the whole time. He kissed me, he cuddled me- He loved me.

It has started to sink in- he loves me no matter what, I need to get over my own self doubt and accept that maybe without any assistance- I could possibly be enough.

At dinner two high school aged girls sat in the booth across from us. They were dressed to the nines, I started to get self-conscious. Jeff had left to go get some dessert pizza (we were at Craigos) and these girls then started to make fun of this old man that was walking back and forth between the buffet line and his table slowly using a walker.

I was horrified!

Why would I WANT to compare myself to people like that?!

It was then that it hit me- a little lightning strike, slap in the face from Heavenly Father- all the makeup in the world, all the hairspray, hair extensions, etc. could never make THAT beautiful. Anyone that could belittle someone like a harmless old man behind his back could never be beautiful...I felt ashamed for comparing myself to them for even a second.

Jeff and I left and I resisted the urge to turn and chastize them- it wouldn't do any good anyway..they would just use me as their next target- feeding their own egos and making themselves feel better by belittling others.


My mind went to a post on C.Jane's blog. C.Jane is a woman in Utah who cared for her sister's children while she was in a coma after a horrible plane crash- she has struggled with infertility- been through a divorce at a young age- and is one of the funniest people I have never met...(seriously, I've never met her) but she inspires me.

C.Jane lives nextdoor to a therapist and asked her to write a post for her about body issues. C.Jane gave birth to her second child, Ever, last year and admits to struggling with her body since then. This woman has helped her and C.Jane hoped that she could help other people too.

You can read the post for yourself by going to :

One thing that this therapist noted was how funny it was that we, as women, try to better ourselves by battling ourselves. Instead of accepting our bodies, feeding them, loving them we battle them- we force ourselves on diets that won't work, and they won't work because we aren't approaching it the right way. We are thinking of what is negative, we are embracing an ideal, that quite frankly, is subjective. We are ALL beautiful in our own way.

Here, she said it better than I ever could,

"You may be stepping on the scale every day (or even multiple times a day) to determine how you will feel about yourself. If the number goes up you feel depressed, discouraged and guilty. If the number goes down you feel positive and encouraged. You are battling with your own body and no matter the result of your diet, the diet industry is the real winner of the war—winning $50 billion a year! And then they turn around, invest some of your money into developing the next “break-through diet” and posting advertisements on-line, TV, magazines, billboards, that are actually designed to make you feel bad about how you look and subtly (or not so subtly) give you the miracle solution that will finally bring you peace...

In creating your own New Year’s resolutions consider this: you can choose your battle! Rather than engaging in a battle laid out for you by the media and body-obsessed culture—a battle designed for you to lose--you can choose to fight a battle that you can win. You can choose a battle that will help you achieve the self esteem and acceptance you are craving. For me and my life, I choose to battle the cultural lies instead of struggling against myself. I choose to battle the notion that my body shape, skin, hair style, clothing, and weight have anything to do with the peace I find in my life.

To get you started in creating some alternative resolutions, here are some worthwhile battles to consider:
· Throw away your scale and quit weighing yourself.
· Eliminate “fat talk” about yourself or anyone else.
· Honor your body—eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full.
· Say something positive about yourself every day.
· Make a list of 3 things your body did well each day.
· Express gratitude daily to those you love.
· Acknowledge that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and are beautiful in their own right—beauty is subjective.
· Exercise when it feels good and stop when it doesn’t .
· Become a critical viewer of the media. Acknowledge the insane standards set forth for us and laugh about the impossibility of it all and put your energy into something that will strengthen you.
· Make a commitment to give up conversations about dieting, calories, weight, etc.
· Work on developing areas in your life that you are passionate about. You will be beautiful when you love yourself."

So, darlings, here is the beginning of a new me. My goal for this year is to eliminate "fat" talk. The word "fat" doesn't exist in my vocabulary unless I'm talking about that white stuff attached to the steak I'm eating. I am going to feed my body and my soul. I am going to accept my body and thank God for the beautiful, wonderful gift that it is.

I am going to accept that my husband is right, I am beautiful and perfect just the way I am.

Hugs and loves until next time darlings.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A New Appreciation

Jeffry and I got married in November, and since then we have been making do with two pink armchairs instead of a couch.

We had a couch, unfortunately, we have a very strange entry way and it wouldn't fit inside our apartment no matter what direction my dad and Jeff tried to push it in, no matter what angle...that was a sad day. That couch was fluffy, cozy, and soft...I had some good memories with that couch, I'd slept on it for an entire summer before starting graduate school. Kiersten and Joe were living with my parents too at the time and they had the spare bedroom- of course it was necessary because they had a new baby at the time...and one could fit easier on the couch than two. It was a good friend, and believe it or not, it was the best sleep of my life.

I was very sad, I almost wanted to cry as my dad dropped it off at the DI and Jeff and I tried to find a love seat that might possibly fit through our odd no avail.

Then, there wasn't money...or a way to transport a couch...

So we made these two pink armchairs work...every time we'd watch a movie or play Wii with eachother one of us would say, "We need a couch." The other would nod emphatically...

Today we broke down...we went to ShopKo and bought a futon on sale. We spent $180 after tax...Of course, we could have gone back to the D.I. to try to find a cheap love seat that might fit, but we knew that a futon was guaranteed to fit and it wouldn't smell funny for be two days from the dump, we also couldn't find anyone with a truck that was willing to help us out...

It was an interesting ride back to our apartment from ShopKo...The Futon didn't fit inside the car...the mattress did (thank heavens) but the very kind customer service associate that helped us knew what to do. We apologized (a lot) for the inconvenience for him. I felt really bad, but he assured us this wasn't the first time it had happened and that we were a lot easier to help and deal with than most. He took the futon frame out of the box, Jeff bought some rope, and we tied it to the roof of the car...I was slightly frightened, but Jeff remembered all his boyscout skills and we made it home without breaking anything or losing the futon frame. (Score one for my man!)

Jeff was so proud of himself after he managed to put it together. He smiled from ear to ear and used his arms to showcase his work like a tall, skinny Price is Right model. "We have a couch!" He proclaimed. We both sat down and enjoyed his hard work.

I think so far its the best $180 we've spent. As a matter of fact, we are right now we are both sitting on it enjoying the closeness and ability to snuggle that we had almost feared we had forgotten.

Its so funny how we take something as simple as having a couch to sit on for granted. Jeff and I are all about appreciating the amazing-ness that is OUR COUCH!

Perhaps darlings we should all take a little more time to think about how blessed we are to have simple things like furniture.

I know one thing for sure: Jeff and I may be as poor as church mice right now, but things could be so much worse. We could have no roof over our head, we could have no furniture at all, we could have no food...

We are blessed darlings. Each and every one of us. Take some time to remember this, especially when things get rough. You may be in the middle of the mire, but there are still things to be grateful for.

Even simple things, like couches.

Hugs and loves until next time darlings!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year, New Insanity

Well, Hello 2011.

Jeff and I bid a fond farewell to 2010.

We started our New Year's Eve with dinner at Texas Roadhouse...I mean Red Lobster....I mean Applebees...

Okay, so here is that story...

I wanted Texas Roadhouse, I was really craving their grilled pork chop. Jeff was only too happy to oblige. We got to Texas Roadhouse and there was a line out the door of people waiting for a table. We talked it over for a moment and decided to try to eat somewhere else.

Since we had decided that New Year's Eve was probably the last time we were going to eat out until Valentine's Day, we decided to throw caution to the wind and get fancy-pants at Jeff's new favorite place on earth, Red Lobster. We drove up to Red Lobster, and it didn't look very promising. We couldn't find a parking spot. We drove past the front entrance and could see a line of people that extended to the outside door (but not outside). Knowing how slow the service at Red Lobster can be, we decided to hop in the car and trek to Applebees. I hadn't eaten there in a while and figured it could be fun to try something that wasn't in our normal repertoire of restaurants....


I guess there is a reason that we don't eat there very often. I decided to be bold and try something new on the menu...the steak and potato salad. Jeff went with his regular steak and potatoes combination.

Jeff's meal was semi disappointing...the grilled onions were less than grilled but his steak was actually quite good...

My meal, on the other hand, was a complete disappointment. The salad was tossed in this disgusting dijon vinagrette that needed more of a sweet flavor to make it even remotely edible. I'd ordered the steak that they were to put on my salad as medium rare. I like it a little pink, but not raw....well...the strips of steak looked pretty much as if they had been tossed on the grill on each side for a few minutes and were almost completely raw except for a small ring of brown that encased the meat...

Forget about sending it back, our waiter was nowhere to be seen. I forced myself to choke down the (raw) meat and a few bites of salad. Jeff could tell I was very unhappy. He let me eat a few pieces of his steak (which was perfectly cooked) to make up for it. He also let me order dessert.

The service was horrible that night. Again, our waiter was nowhere to be seen. One of the other workers brought out our refills that had been waiting in the back for a while (we were having flavored lemonades and they have to make them at the bar because that is where the flavors are.) Mango lemonades in hand...we waited again...

We waited, and waited, and waited....

Finally, about ten minutes after we asked another worked busing tables to put in our dessert order...ten minutes later, our waiter came by to clarify that we'd ordered dessert...

I was a little irritated at this point but as sweetly as possible verified the order.

We waited another 10 minutes and finally the waiter brought out our dessert. He apologized for his service being so slow..

Slow...there was the understatement of the year...

As far as I could see, he only had three tables. I know that it was a somewhat busy night for them, but while we were waiting for our first refill other waiters and waitresses had already brought third and fourth refills, and dessert to the tables that were surrounding us. Tables were leaving that had gotten there after we did. All the while, our waiter had seemingly disappeared into the abyss.

The waiter brought the check with dessert...Jeff quickly just handed him the debit card without even looking at it...lest we be stuck for another 20 minutes waiting for him to come grab it.

Dessert made up for the horrible meal. We ordered the maple blondie brownie. Jeff and I fought over the last bite.

We had originally planned to go to the free SUB night after dinner for a round or two of skittle bowling...but we got to the car, decided it was too cold outside and that we just wanted to snuggle up and watch a movie.

We decided to pull a drive-by movie drop.

Jeff pulled up to Fred Meyer, I,debit card in hand, made a mad dash for the Redbox. I ended up renting an action flick, Salt. I was confused for part of it...and normally movies don't get me confused, but once I figured out what was going on, I figured out the end of the movie before it happened. Jeff was proud of me...I was proud of me...I went from complete confusion to mystery master in a matter of minutes.

The movie was over around 10:30...Jeff asked if I wanted to stay up until midnight. I answered with a resounding "Heck yes, I want my kiss!" We both laughed, kissed and then went about our individual business as the clock ticked on.

Jeff worked on some work and then played Starcraft while I worked on photo editing some wedding pictures. I didn't even realize it was midnight until Jeff grabbed my computer out of my lap, put it on the ground, and wrapped his arms around me. Then came the big smooch.

It was officially 2011, and we were officially tired, so we went to bed.

We enjoyed a somewhat lazy Saturday and prepared for Sunday.

I am the Primary pianist. I have to say that this has got to be one of my favorite callings of all time. I love the little kids in our ward. They are all so sweet and learning to them listen and share gospel principles has added a whole new dimension to my testimony.

Well, this Sunday was a somewhat confusing one.

Our primary presidency was informed just before Sacrament meeting that our kids would not be switching primary classes and that we would not be getting new Sunbeams (for those of you who don't know the 3-4 year old kids in primary are the Sunbeams) They were also informed that the schedule would be changing next week and that we would no longer be having opening exercises together.

Two problems with that:
1) the teachers had prepared lessons with the idea that they would be teaching new kids. Many had planned "getting to know you" games.
2) the Primary president wasn't there so we could understand what was going to happen with the schedule next week. We are still not sure how they are planning on running primary without opening exercises. The opening exercises give the kids an opportunity to learn how to give talks, scriptures and pray in public.

Needless to say, we were all a bit confused.

To make matters worse, our chorister wasn't there and hadn't informed any of us that she wouldn't be.

We were winging it.

Sister Larsen, the 1st counselor in the Primary approached me while the kids were having sharing time to ask me if I would be willing to come up with a lesson plan for singing time.

Sure....30 minutes to plan a 30 minute lesson...ummmm okay.

I was trying to figure out how to approach teaching one of the new songs that we would need to learn in the new year without any teaching aids when Sister Larsen came back.

"I think those posterboards and baggies behind you are music things that had been left behind. You can see if you can make any of those work." I thanked her and feverishly turned around to dig through the pile behind me.

I managed to find a snowman game that involved refreshing the kids' memories about songs they had learned. I didn't like the rules, so I quickly made my own up.

I also took out songs that I was fairly certain the kids in this group didn't know. Who knows how long this had been sitting in the primary room. The bag was fairly dusty.

All I can say is how grateful I am that I took that Elementary Music Methods class last spring semester. The kids were very focused on me because I had learned various techniques in that class to keep their attention. I knew they were full of energy. While the Senior Primary kids were finishing up sharing time, I could hear the Junior Primary kids in the hall laughing, shouting and generally being rowdy.

First, I tried the hand raising technique. I simply said, "Raise your hand if your not talking." I had a few kids in Junior Primary that were looking around instead of raising their hands and I simply said, "We will only start singing time when everyone is raising their hand. If you're all raising your hands I know you're all being reverent." Hands shot up like bullets from a gun.

I could tell they had so many wiggles bottled up they could hardly stand it! I said. How many of you know how to play "Simon Says?" the kids eagerly raised their hands and some of the little ones raised their hands after looking around. I could tell they didn't know how to play it. I said, "Its okay if you don't. Even if you do, I'm going to explain the rules anyway." One of the Senior Primary kids suggested we play it as "Jesus Says" since we were at church. I made a joke about not being a boy, but I would be Jesus...the kids all giggled. We then proceeded to play out all of their wiggles.

When I was sure the kids were completely focused on me, I started music. I went ahead with my plan to teach a new song to the kids. We learned "Search Ponder and Pray." The Senior Primary kids knew the song, but none of the Juniors did. It worked out perfectly (except for the part where one of the Senior Primary kids got upset because she thought I was teaching the words wrong. I finally had to show her the words in the book.)

I remembered the rule of 3. Kids need to hear something 3 times before you ask them to repeat it. There is a chemical reaction that happens in the brain and helps the synapse to form so they can remember it. I said a phrase 3 times and had them say it with me, then I sang it two times and had them sing it 2 times with me. We had the song learned in about 10 minutes.

I know the little Sunbeams didn't quite get it all, but my goodness they tried so hard! It was so cute they tried to make up arm signals so they could show that they remembered some of the words. (which gave me an awesome idea if I had to throw singing time together again someday, but that is a lesson for another day.) They were so intently watching and focused, I could tell that they were trying so hard to sit still and be reverent.

I finally explained the snowman. I told the kids that his name was Mr.Snow, and that he had never been to primary and was shy. I said we needed to sing songs really well so he would stop hiding. I interacted with my laminated friend, pretending that he was talking to me and asking me for various body parts after each song ( ie he wants his arms now. It looks like you're having so much fun he wants to try to sing along!) The kids loved it!

After primary a little boy with special needs (he's autistic) came up to me and tugged on my skirt. I got down to his level and he sweetly said, "Will you be here next week? You're fun!" I smiled and told him I would be here, but I would probably be playing the piano. He smiled and grabbed his dad's hand and left the room waving goodbye.

The teachers and who was there from the primary presidency commended me. They said they'd never seen the kids so engaged before.

I have to admit how much fun I had.

Isn't it funny how god makes sure we learn what we need to know? I didn't necessarily need to take Elementary Music Methods, in fact, in the state of Idaho you only need to take it if you plan on getting K-12 music certification. I had never thought I would want to be an Elementary music teacher and its funny how that class showed me that I could do it, and how much fun I would have. Its funny that I was able to use the knowledge I'd learned in that class for a church calling on a whim.

God surely finds a way to place the right people with the right skills in the right situations. Sister Larsen said that she would have had no clue what to do. I am so grateful that I have been given knowledge and skills that can be used to help other people in need.

Never underestimate the power of even the smallest bit of knowledge that you have darlings, you never know when you will be asked to use it.

Well, here's looking forward to a crazy new year with crazy new challenges. I'm working on being ready...are you?

Hugs and loves until next time darlings!