Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Break highlights!

I love Boise. And as much as I love living on the East Coast, my roots are here. (My mom is really pushing for me to marry someone from Boise so I end up here. :) ) So it's nice to come home for Christmas break / a couple weeks in the summer / whenever else I decide to make the trek. Here are some of the highlights so far:

  • Talking to Cody and Paul on Christmas Day!
  • Watching my dad and Michael eating the canned silk worm larvae (bundigie) that my missionary brother Paul sent us from Korea.
  • Playing Rock Band with the Hadfields / hanging out with Damon. (I've missed you!)
  • Waking Michael up from his Sunday nap. Tonight my mom had gone in his room a couple times to try, but to no avail. Her solution: smear peanut butter on his face and put the dog on his bed to lick it off. Success!
  • Reading through some old high school yearbooks and realizing that I can no longer remember about 50% of the people that signed my yearbooks. (Not to mention the other 2000 kids I went to school with!)
  • Shopping with Mom. Two very indecisive people = long shopping trips.
  • Skiing at Bogus Basin. The mountains and skiing are two things that I miss living in DC. Something I do not miss: malfunctioning ski equipment. I need to remember to buy insulated snow pants, gloves without holes in them and boots that actually fit. And maybe I shouldn't use the goggles I got when I was twelve...
  • The traditional Chamberlain Sunday afternoon sing-a-long. We all gather around the piano and sing for an hour or two. Les Mis has always been the favorite, but we're working other musicals in to the rotation.
  • Mostly just spending time with the people that know and love me best: primarily my family, Amanda, Damon...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Mom knows me well...

She made me this really beautiful quilt

and bought me these fabulous shoes.

Thanks, Mom!

Monday, December 22, 2008

That explains it!

For any of you who saw the slightly disgustified pumpkins on our porch this fall and wondered what happened, all your questions are about to be put to rest. For those of you who didn't see them...

We never actually got around to carving our pumpkins this year ... so the squirrels started eating them from the rind, in .

It was a momentous occasion on the day the squirrel broke through the rind and gutted the first pumpkin. We were so amused that we left the pumpkins in the yard, and they made short work of all three.

Humorous? Definitely. Gross? A little, yeah, I'll admit. But why? I didn't figure it out until this week.

According to CNN, the second-best source of all truth and knowledge (the first being Wikipedia), there was a huge acorn shortage this year. And this wasn't just in Virginia, but all up and down the eastern seaboard. The squirrels' version of the Irish potato famine. Scientists are predicting record squirrel deaths all over the east coast if they can't adjust fast enough to find other sources of food before winter. The wildlife expert's solution: leave corn, peanuts and sunflower seeds on the back lawn. Our solution: don't put away your Halloween decorations too early!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just because

I saw this on a couple friends' blogs and thought it looked fun. So of course I had to post it. It made me feel pretty good about my level of adventuresome-ness, although that's only because about 15 of them have something to do with Italy.
=) Enjoy!


Rules are: Anything you have done has to be in bold. How much have you done?

1. Started your own blog 2. Slept under the stars. 3. Played in a band 4. Visited Hawaii 5. Watched a meteor shower 6. Given more than you can afford to charity 7. Been to Disneyland 8. Climbed a mountain. 9. Held a Praying Mantis 10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped 12. Visited Paris 13. Watched a lightning storm at sea 14. Taught yourself an art from scratch 15. Adopted a child 16. Had food poisoning 17. Been to the Statue of Liberty 18. Grown your own vegetables 19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France 20. Slept on an train 21. Had a pillow fight 22. Hitch hiked 23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill 24. Built a snow fort 25. Held a lamb 26. Gone skinny dipping 27. Run a Marathon 28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice 29. Seen a total eclipse 30. Watched a sunrise or sunset 31. Hit a home run 32. Been on a cruise 33. Seen Niagara Falls in person 34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors 35. Seen an Amish community 36. Taught yourself a new language 37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied 38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person 39. Gone rock climbing 40. Seen Michelangelo’s David 41. Sung karaoke 42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt 43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant 44. Visited Africa 45. Walked on a beach by moonlight 46. Been transported in an ambulance 47. Had your portrait painted 48. Gone deep sea fishing 49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person 50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris 51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling 52. Kissed in the rain 53. Played in the mud 54. Gone to a drive-in theater 55. Been in a movie 56. Visited the Great Wall of China 57. Started a business 58. Taken a martial arts class 59. Visited Russia 60. Served at a soup kitchen 61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies 62. Gone whale watching 63. Got flowers for no reason 64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma 65. Gone sky diving 66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp 67. Bounced a check 68. Flown in a helicopter 69. Saved a favorite childhood toy 70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial 71. Eaten Caviar 72. Tied a quilt 73. Stood in Times Square 74. Toured the Everglades 75. Been fired from a job 76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London 77. Broken a bone 78. Been on a speeding motorcycle 79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person 80. Published a book 81. Visited the Vatican 82. Bought a brand new car 83. Walked in Jerusalem 84. Had your picture in the newspaper 85. Read the entire Bible 86. Visited the White House 87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating 88. Had chickenpox 89. Saved someone’s life 90. Sat on a jury 91. Met someone famous 92. Joined a book club 93. Lost a loved one 94. Had a baby 95. Seen the Alamo in person 96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake 97. Been involved in a law suit 98. Owned a cell phone 99. Been stung by a bee 100. Visited Italy

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Extra! Extra! Baby Born with Three Heads!

(Name that movie)

Confession. I'm a news junkie. One of my kids was using my computer the other day and laughed when CNN popped up as my homepage. "You would have CNN, Ms. Chamberlain." Last year it was and in college I went through a New York Times phase. I probably check the news 5 or 6 times a day, and yes, I probably need to get some help for that. I stayed up all night to watch primary election results last spring and knew McCain's VP pick within minutes of it being released. I like to be in the know. And even better, I can justify it! Teaching social studies allows me to use current events in my curriculum on a very regular basis - I've even got my kids trained to watch the news/read the newspapers on their own.

Every once in a while, there's a really spectacular day in the news. And I don't mean that the newspapers are broadcasting Obama's newest cabinet pick or the Dow's 300 point plunge. On the best news days, the papers are full of slightly unusual and/or shocking news.

Here are some of today's winning headlines:

First U.S. Face Transplant Described. I was a little disturbed by this one at first. The whole idea of transplanting someone's face onto a new person is bizarre to me. Waking up one morning and having a completely different face? Not for me. For those people that need it, though, it's pretty impressive technology

Drew Petersen Says He's Engaged. Really? Wife #3 is homicide case and wife #4 is a missing person. Someone's stupid enough to date the man? Not to mention marrying him. Wow. Just wow.

Colorado Doctor Finds Foot in Newborn's Brain. This is maybe the strangest thing I've ever seen.

Update: 21 December

Facing Ice, Snow, Iowa Town Looks To ... Garlic Salt
A Des Moines, Iowa suburb uses expired garlic salt to salt its snowy streets. Inventive, to be sure, but what a smell!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.

Or at least it's finally beginning to feel like Christmas.

The Christmas season has always been one of my favorite times of the year. The excitement of picking out the perfect gift for friends and family. Driving around the city looking for the best Christmas light displays. Hiking through the mountains in search of the perfect tree, then spending hours decorating it. Dad recounting the story behind each of our ornaments. Belting out every song on Amy Grant's Christmas CDs for weeks. I've discovered, though, that as I've gotten older and don't get to spend the month leading up to Christmas at my parents' home, that it's much harder to feel Christmas-y. And for whatever reason, it's taken even longer this year to really get into the season.

A few things that have helped:

1. The National Christmas Tree. Well, the one in front of the White House. Haven't been down to check out the other one yet (anyone interested in going this week?)
2. SNOW!! (now, if only we could get it to last long enough to get a snow day...)

3. Amy Grant's Christmas music. I discovered that I cannot live without it. As hokey as it may be, Amy Grant makes Christmas at my house. I have no explanation for why, but her "Tennessee Christmas" was always my favorite.

4. Magical Mint Kisses. Kisses of the edible sort (although I'm open to the other as well... just saying...). Not something I grew up with, but they're amazing.

5. Shopping for a Sub for Santa family with the roommies. I was reminded again why I hate Wal-mart, but why I love Christmas.

6. The Air Force Band's Christmas concert. Their rendition of "12 Days of Christmas" was fabulous. And I tried to get a picture of the woman sitting in front of us, but failed. She was wearing reindeer antlers. In public.

7. The annual ward Christmas program. It just wouldn't be Christmas without spending hours rehearsing for and performing in the choir.

8. Duke Ellington School of the Arts' "Motown Christmas" concert. Check out the Temptations' "Little Drummer Boy". Really, you'll love it.

9. Watching A Boyfriend for Christmas with my roommates, Kim, Lindsay and Shawn. I'm not usually a fan of cheesy Lifetime movies, but I was entertained, I'll admit.

10. My schedule for this coming week! White Christmas night, Muppet Christmas Carol night (everyone's invited! my place, wednesday, 7.30), temple lights, Christmas caroling in the halls at work, and flying home! I can't wait!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Luminaries at Antietam

September 17, 1862 was the bloodiest single day of the American Civil War. The Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of General Robert E. Lee, was seeking international recognition for the CSA through a successful campaign on Northern soil. This first foray into the North was also an attempt to recruit Marylanders to join the Confederate cause. The Battle of Antietam (or the Battle of Sharpsburg if you went to school in the South) ultimately was a tactical draw, but was enough of a moral victory for the Union that President Abraham Lincoln gained the confidence to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

Once a year, generally the first weekend in December, a luminary is lit for each of the 23,000 casualties of the battle. The battlefield is literally lined with these candles, and to sobering effect. That's more people than live in the entire city of Eagle. Killed or injured in a single day. I really can't quite wrap my mind around that. The number of lights was really quite shocking - I only wish the pictures did it justice. Jay, Janine, Scott and I drove up to Antietam late last night to check out the display, and were awed by the beauty and the sadness of the memorial.

You can see the line of cars off to the right.

A close-up of one of the luminaries

And the professional picture.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sick Day

Wednesday I took a bona fide sick day for the first time in a very very long time. It turns out that a "sick day" is a lot more exciting in theory than in reality. Here's the schedule:

6:00 am - Alarm goes off and I decide not to go to work. Not coherent enough to make the phone call.

7:05 am - Finally get up and call the office to request a sub. Text my co-worker Natalie to have her prep my room for a sub (Thanks, Nat!)

8:10 am - Call Nat to make sure she got my text. Grab a waterbottle & go back to bed

10:40 am - I crawl out of bed and make it as far as the couch. Watch Monday night's "Chuck" (for the second time) and finish writing a test on ancient Egypt.

12:30 pm - Decide I should probably eat something. Tuesday night's leftovers? Perfect.

2:00 pm - Naptime!

3:00 pm - Get up and return to the couch for tv and to write a worksheet for my unit on SE Asia. Sad that I spend my sick day working, I know. I also discovered today (when I passed out the assignment) that I shouldn't write tests/homework assignments when I'm not quite lucid.

4:30 pm - Naptime #2

Somehow the sick day didn't translate to my evening, which ended up as busy as ever. Bridal gown shopping with Diana and Book Club with Jay, Kim, Janine and Louise.

Sick Friday night in, on the other hand, is actually much more exciting. While it might be fun to hang out with friends, evite party small talk is much less enjoyable if you don't have a voice. So...after a nice long afternoon nap and curling up in bed to watch last night's "30 Rock", I made a quick run to Pentagon Row to pick up some Baja Fresh take-out. Then plopped down on the couch with my awesome roommate Amanda to watch a tv (extended?) version of Harry Potter 1 and try out a Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate mix. Yum. And the best part is that I don't have to talk.

My best friend this week. Thanks to my awesome VTs for replenishing my supply!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

They don't pay me enough

Some days I feel like I'm babysitting. Take today, for instance.

In my 6th period class, one student comes to class with his lunch because he had been rehearsing for dance class during lunch. Fine, take the tardy, sit in the hall for 5 minutes and eat your lunch.

Student #2 had just taken medication that completely knocked her out - she answers two questions on today's quiz before falling completely asleep. Knowing her history, I decide just to let her take it later and sleep through the class.

This particular class has quite a number of dancers. Student #3 cannot hold still long enough to take his test. The rest of the class finishes while he is making all sorts of hand gestures and (momentarily) tries to balance a tupperware lid on his head. I take the lid and his test away.

The quiz ends. Students continue working on a mapping assignment from the previous day. Student #4 has already completed his map and is thumbing through the atlas in his textbook. In an attempt to challenge him / keep him occupied, I pull out a stash of (fairly difficult) National Geographic quiz questions (thank you, Dad!) and discover that he's a geography whiz. Awesome.

Classes end. I sit down to take a break and to get some grading done. Student #5 is wandering the halls because her piano lab teacher isn't there today, and she needs someone to talk to. I don't know about you, but never would have gone to a high school teacher for dating advice.

Lunch. Check.

Naptime. Check.

Discipline. Check.

Educational entertainment. Check.

Shoulder to cry on. Check.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

We'll miss you, Elder Wirthlin

I logged into my email this morning only to discover that Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, the oldest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, passed away in his sleep last night. I will miss the stories he tells and the extraordinary humility and compassion that defined him in my mind. I feel like at different moments in my life, there are always one or two speakers whose messages have spoken directly to me - Elder Wirthlin has filled that spot for the past few years. Many of you will remember a year ago, during the October 2007 General Conference, when Elder Wirthlin was giving a talk and began shaking so violently that I wasn't sure he would be able to deliver his whole talk. (To be perfectly honest, I had to go back later and re-read the conference archives, because I was too focused on what was happening and not enough on what was being said.) Elder Nelson stepped up alongside Elder Wirthlin, silently and beautifully illustrating the topic of the address: the responsibility we have to love and support one another. One of my favorite passages from the talk defines the true measure of success in life as the ability to love and serve, as Christ did, our fellow man.

"The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of transformation. It takes us as men and women of the earth and refines us into men and women for the eternities.

The means of this refinement is our Christlike love. There is no pain it cannot soften, no bitterness it cannot remove, no hatred it cannot alter. The Greek playwright Sophocles wrote: “One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.”15

The most cherished and sacred moments of our lives are those filled with the spirit of love. The greater the measure of our love, the greater is our joy. In the end, the development of such love is the true measure of success in life."

Something to contemplate, for sure. How am I going about developing the love of Christ? Am I making a conscious effort to find opportunities to love and serve?

We will miss you, Elder Wirthlin, but know that you are now happily reunited with your beautiful wife. I'm so thankful for the lessons that I've learned through your words.

I'm grateful to live in a day when we have living prophets and apostles, the true organization of Christ's church, on the earth. I know that Elder Wirthlin was an apostle of God, and I know that the things he taught us were the words of the Lord. I'm also grateful to know that whoever is chosen to replace him will likewise be called of God, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ will never again be taken from the earth.