Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Blizzard of '09

Hello world. It's ironic, every summer when I have fun things to write about and all the time in the world, I fall off the blogging bandwagon. And of course that leads to a months-long hiatus from the ol' blog. Well, I'm back. For the time being, at least.

I'm sure most of you saw this week all the news about the East Coast Blizzard and the chaos that it precipitated (pun intended). Well, DC was in the heart of it, so I thought I'd share some pics. Plus I'm supposed to be writing my grad school admissions essays right now and I'm looking for ways to distract myself.

Saturday morning, December 19. The whole house was up early because Marci was getting married that morning. This is not what you want to see out your back door when your wedding is an hour drive away.

The temple had called Friday night to say that they were closing all day on Saturday but opening up just for weddings. There was about a foot of snow at this point and unfortunately my boots are suede... so in my attempt to keep a little dry, I wore ski socks with tennis shoes and carried my pumps in. I know, I look awesome.

Driving home from the temple on Beach Dr. Our California girl, Louise, did a fantastic job driving through the snow. We stopped at IHOP on the way home and were pretty proud of ourselves for pushing the car out of the snow when we got a little stuck in the parking lot. And yes, we were still in dresses at that point.

Meradyth and I pretty much spent the rest of the day inside watching movies and crocheting. We finally ventured out to take pics and visit some friends that evening, and this is what we found. My poor poor little Penelope (I'm trying out a new name here, let's see if it sticks). She was still partially buried when I left DC- I'm just hoping she's ok when I get back.
Here's Meradyth and me inside the igloo that Billy and Scott built. Pretty sweet.

The big bush in front of our window was bent or maybe snapped by the weight of the snow.

Sunday morning. Turns out that 21 inches of snow makes my neighborhood look really picturesque. This was as I was dragging my suitcase to a main road so some friends could pick me up and drive me to the airport. My street was not really drive-able at this point.

As much as I love the snow, I am really grateful that I was able to make it out of DCA on Sunday and home to the family in Eagle!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Shoutout to Great Friends

July 2009 - my Month of Awesomeness - began fabulously with a visit from two of my favorite people. I'm sure you all don't want all the details of the week they were here, but let's just say that I didn't actually think it was possible to fit in everything that we did in such a short amount of time. (recap: lots and lots of touristy DC stuff, a whirlwind 2-day trip to NYC, a small-town parade in Harper's Ferry contrasted by DC's 4th of July Fireworks, the DC Temple and a beach trip). But what I really loved was being with the girls again. We were roommates on and off all through college, and Amanda and I have been friends and travel buddies since high school. I've come to realize lately how blessed I have been in my life to have people that inspire me to be better - both of these girls do that constantly. Motivating me to do the best at whatever I'm pursuing. Setting an example of constantly building a personal relationship with our Savior. Reminding me to always continue learning. And of course still being the friends that can get me rolling on the floor laughing. I have some incredible friends these days, but there's nothing like spending time with old friends.

Me, Amy & Amanda.

A & A. Amanda found this beach volleyball tournament at Coney Island. So fun!

Me and Amanda at Times Square

A and A. We found this awesome little parade in Shepherdstown, WV.

Chris, Me, Russ, Amy, Amanda. I think we forgot to tell Chris that we were going to a church service.

Russ, Amy, Amanda and Chris at the White House.

Amy, Amanda and Me. You can sort of see the Washington Monument in the back.

Amy and me the day she left :(

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Let Freedom Ring

Text from my co-worker yesterday morning:

"U hear that... no students!"

This is why I love being a teacher.

I'll stop gloating after today, I promise.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Arlington Rap

Sorry to all of you Arlington-ites who have already seen this, but it's pretty hilarious. To the rest of you who are all under the illusion that I live in the ghetto, this is much closer to my reality. :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

No more pencils, no more books... (almost)

Dear Students,

Please do not come to me AFTER you failed 3 advisories and got a D on your final to ask me if you can do any extra credit. The answer will always be no.

If I can't tell the difference between "d" and an "a", I will mark the question wrong.

Yes, Life Is Beautiful is in a different language (about 25 minutes into the movie).

No, you may not leave the classroom with your whole bookbag in the middle of a test. Nor may you come back and finish it tomorrow.

"King of England" is not a sufficient description for Henry VIII, so don't try to argue for extra points.

Yes, I love you all, but I will probably not miss you one bit over the summer. And let's be honest, you won't miss me either.


A still-Grumpy-but-slightly-Amused teacher.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Am I being unreasonable?

Dear administration,

Next time you create a final exam schedule, please don't hold an assembly at the same time as one of the tests.

Grumpy Teacher

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer Vacay

In approximately 288 hours, I will be released from my voluntary captivity and free to enjoy my summer! In case you're wondering, I really do like my job... but when you're this close, you can just taste summer... It turns out that teachers are just as excited for summer break as the students. I didn't realize that growing up - I thought they just LOVED spending all day every day with us. Turns out I was mistaken. Somehow I don't think I'm going to miss the daily arguments: "You stole that pen from my desk!" and "Ms. Chamberlain, Rakim is still singing under his breath". And if I ever start to get nostalgic for the impromptu dance parties that break out in the halls periodically, I'll just remind myself that I'll be back here soon.

But in the meantime... I've got a pretty rockin' summer planned.

First, these two lovely ladies are coming to visit me:

Well, ok, there would be a picture if I could find one. A &A - why don't I have any pictures of the three of us?

We'll be touring DC for a week (just ask them about The List... let's just say I'm a compulsive trip planner) and maybe even making a jaunt up here:
Then at the end of July, Emily and I will be heading here:

and here:

and here:

And on August 13, my favorite sister gets home from her mission to Brazil!

Add in a few camping/backpacking trips, a weekend at Virginia Beach, trips to Kings Dominion or Six Flags, a road trip or two and plenty of extra sleep, it's going to be pretty fabulous.

June 16th can't come soon enough!

P.S. If anyone wants to join me on any of my adventures / come visit me in DC / more suggestions, let me know!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Why I Love Savannah, a Photo Essay

Forsyth Park.

Who's the biggest celebrity to come out of Savannah? That's right, Paula Deen. And don't worry, Marci and I waited in line for an hour to get reservations at her restaurant. I can feel my arteries clogging just thinking about it.

So happy to have a roommate who loves cemeteries as much as I do. The Bonaventure Cemetery was filled with these beautifully pathetic figurines.

Ooh look! A pretty house! This city is GORGEOUS.

Nathan, Becky and Emily at the beach at Tybee Island.

The Mercer-Williams house. A beautiful old Civil War-era home. But more importantly, a major setting for the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say I was sorely tempted to rip up the rug in the study to look for bullet holes.

A voodoo mask? I have no idea really what this is, but that was my dad's first reaction when he saw the pics, so we're going to go with that.

Savannah charm.

Wandering through the squares of Savannah we ran into this wedding, so of course I needed a picture. I'm pretty sure that the groom was at least 20 years older than the bride. And I'm really sorry you can't see the dresses. It was a little white trash.

Yes, we're happy to be in the South. And we look beautiful.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Swine Flu

In light of the fact that swine flu cases have now been confirmed in Maryland and Virginia, with probable cases in DC, I thought I'd check out the symptoms (so I could avoid/send home sick kids, if nothing else.)
This is what I found:
Check it out. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

67 Things?

I heard on the radio a couple days ago that the average woman in America has 67 items in her purse. I like to believe that I'm not quite as high-maintenance as the women they were talking about, so I sat down to investigate. This is what I found:

9 pass-along cards (maybe i should actually give them away)
a small "Idaho" pin in the shape of a potato
one ponytail
postage stamps in $.94 and $.04 varieties
a DC Temple Visitor's Center card
grocery list
flyer from Cacao, a cute little chocolate shop we found in Bethesda
key to the church building
pink lip gloss
pens in blue, black, purple and green
one small bottle of Expo Dry Erase Board Cleaner
2 tithing slips
bronze-ish lip gloss
spare car key
an almost-empty pack of Orbit gum
one earring (i made it to church and then realized that I'd only put one of them in... so it ended up in the purse)
flyer for the Azalea Festival at the National Arboretum
flash drive
car keys
a gum wrapper
address book
classroom keys
DCA-ORD boarding pass from February
cell phone
old pay stub
wallet (you don't even want to know what's in that)
Target receipt
blood donation appointment card
tickets to an Orioles-Rays game and a Nationals-Marlins game

Nothing shocking except maybe the Dry Erase Board Cleaner. And it doesn't nearly add up to 67 (unless you count all the items in my wallet separately). So ladies, I'm interested. What random/funny/whatever things would we find in your purse? (Guys, too, if you're willing to admit that you have a man-purse.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009


A colleague of mine has a couple kids at the school and lives near several others, so she drives a few of the students to school every day. One of these students has been in my history class for the past two years (I teach two different classes, not because he failed), so I've gotten to know him pretty well. He's a very bright student, pretty quiet and very talented overall. He's the student that I really have to plan my lessons for, making sure that I'm challenging him enough.

Yesterday morning, this colleague reported that during their morning commute, they had been discussing whow they would take with them if they were stranded on a desert island. Apparently this student wanted to have me along "because she knows where everything is." When she reminded him that knowing geography might not be too crucial on a desert island, he told her that "Ms. Chamberlain just knows EVERYTHING."

I'm glad I've got someone fooled. :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

See you soon.

"Shady Acres today?" I read the note passed to me from Heather, all the way across Hofstetter's physics classroom. I spent most of the lunch periods my senior year running with Heather to Albertson's or the local convenience store / cafe for typical high school food. (It grosses me out thinking about the quantities of tater tots we ate that year. And I wish that were a Napoleon Dynamite reference, but it's not. We probably ate tater tots twice a week.)

As I remember it, my friendship with Heather went back to 10th grade Algebra 2. Mr. Daley's 3rd period class. We suffered through a lot during that class. His hour-long slideshow of his trip to Ireland, accompanied by him on the fiddle (remind me never to do that to my classes). A mandolin accompaniment to "y is equal to x plus or minus the square root of..." whatever the rest of quadratic formula is. We knew a lot of the same people and had all the same classes, and it was fairly natural for us to become friends. By our junior year, we were inseparable: Heather, Amanda and me. Shopping, road-tripping, late-night movie dates with Chuck. Powder puff football, prom, morp and weekly "study sessions" for AP U.S. History that usually turned into pool/dart-throwing contests. Heather was a great friend - smart, witty and always ready to have fun.

Then, about a year and a half after we graduated from high school and went our separate ways, Heather was diagnosed with sarcoma. You all don't need the details of the past four and a half years, except to know that through everything, she remained the happy and spirited and beautiful friend I knew. I'm pretty good at complaining about everything wrong in my life, but I never saw Heather do the same. I have been so blessed to have this wonderful woman (friend, example) in my life and I know she will missed tremendously by all who loved her. I know that Heather has moved on from the pain and trials of this life, but that she is living still in the next, and I know that she will be reunited again with her family and friends. I can't answer the "why" question that I've been asking for the past couple of weeks, but I do know that the Lord has a purpose and that he is watching out for both Heather and for those who are left to mourn her.

Love you and miss you, Heather. See you soon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Happiness today

  • The smell of Barnes & Noble. And the books.
  • Sitting on the kitchen counter (or the floor, or anywhere, really) talking to my roommates about just about anything.
  • A clean classroom.
  • Random texts from people i love.
  • The David Archuleta cd that has made it back into my car stereo.
  • Using my sun roof for the first time in months.
  • Discovering a new class at the gym.
  • Great home teachers.
  • Planning a trip to the temple with my roommate

Things I do not love quite as much:
  • My car getting hit for the 3rd time in a month.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm Going There Someday...

As a child growing up in the LDS church, I've spent most of my life singing "I Love to See the Temple, I'm going there someday." Over Presidents' Day weekend, I decided to make the trek to Boise to finally make that real! I won't say much out of reverence for its sacredness, but it was a beautiful experience and I'm excited to spend more time there!

I also decided that if I was going to fly all the way out to Idaho, that I ought to just make a weekend trip of it, so I headed down to Utah on Saturday (Feb 14) to see some friends. Jessica & Reece picked me up from the airport and took me back to their apartment in the middle of a Utah blizzard to make breakfast and catch up. I've gotten really bad about taking pictures, so you get a lovely one of me and Jess at the Villa della Regina in Torino. Later on that day, I met up with Alicia, Sarah, Spencer and Amanda at the Timpanogos temple. What an incredible place! The rest of the evening / weekend, I spent with some of my favorite people: Damon, Amanda, Amy and Devon. For the first time in a long time, it was actually really hard for me to come back to DC.

I know, short frizzy hair = not a good look for anyone.

Typical. This is what I get for leaving my camera in Alicia's car. =)

Damon & Me.
Leaving my camera in Alicia's car = very few pictures from the weekend.

Amanda & me.
When we were in Boston and then again in Europe a few years ago, everyone thought we were sisters.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My favorite .... sculptor

I was sitting in my classroom today, planning a lesson and previewing a documentary about Baroque art, and I decided to share with you all my favorite artist. (Little surprise that he's Italian...) I'm not much of an art historian or an art critic. All I know is that this man's art is phenomenal. He uses such intricate details that you actually believe what he's trying to portray. The look of determination David's eye before he raises the sling to slay Goliath. Pluto's hand digging into Proserpina's flesh, as if she were real instead of carved from marble. St. Theresa, a look of pain and ecstasy frozen upon her face. And my absolute favorite, Daphne caught in the midst of her transformation from nymph to laurel tree. Enjoy. And visit, please. There is nothing like seeing these in the round.

Gianlorenzo Bernini


The Rape of Proserpina

The Ecstasy of St. Theresa

Apollo & Daphne

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Things you may not know

1. I love to cook, but I cannot bake to save my life.
2. I am terrified of heights. (Just ask my mom about hiking Arches. Or the temple in Chichen Itza).
3. Someday I really want to be in Siena, Italy for the Palio (that crazy and often deadly horserace that you see in the plaza on the new James Bond movie)
4. I live too much in the future. Working on enjoying what I’m doing now instead of looking forward to … whatever.
5. I love spending time by myself. I used to spend hours wandering around Rome by myself and loved it.
6. I have more patience for stupid kids than for stupid adults.
7. I hate scrapbooking with a passion. I pretended for years that I enjoyed it, but I just don’t. I’ll put pictures in an album and label them, but I don’t do the frilly stuff.
8. Mice don’t bother me, but I think cockroaches are the most disgusting things on the planet.
9. I need everything planned down to the minute, but I don’t actually own a planner.
10. I have read Pride and Prejudice probably 30 times
11. I’m obsessed with all things Les Miserables. And more recently, Wicked is giving it a run for its money.
12. I had a couple years where I typed everything that I said. Not on a computer or anything, but I moved my fingers to type out the words when I spoke. Maybe that’s why I type so fast now (something around 110 wpm)
13. I have a very hard time playing anything quiet or slow on the piano. I love Edward Grieg.
14. I have a quarter-sized scar on my calf from ice-blocking as a kid. I also have a little one right between the eyes, courtesy of my brother Paul and a heavy plastic toy dinosaur.
15. I’m not a big fan of contacts or glasses, but Lasik terrifies me.
16. I really want to be an artist. I like to sit and draw whatever I can see, but I can’t just create a picture out of my head.
17. BYU made me more liberal and Washington DC has made me more conservative.
18. My favorite toy as a kid was a She-ra action figure. Except that she somehow got broken in half, so I spent most of my time pretending to be a doctor and make her better.
19. I had more snow days in the 3 ½ months of student teaching than in all of my years attending or actually teaching school.
20. I’m not honestly sure if I can come up with 25 things about me that you don’t all already know.
21. I want to be a super organized person, but I’m never motivated enough to do it.
22. Last year I went to the traveling production of High School Musical and loved it.
23. I have very little discernment in good vs. bad movies. (did anyone see the post-Super Bowl Office? Think Andy)
24. I don’t like activities that force me to be in front of a crowd. Guesstures/charades/the performance part of Cranium. Torture. Don’t ask me how I became a teacher.
25. The first CD I ever bought was the Backstreet Boys.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day

To anyone living in the DC area: Yes, I teach school in DC. No, school wasn't cancelled today. Yes, I'm being a little bitter/sarcastic with my post title here. No, no children actually came to school today.

To everyone:
After yesterday's snow and the freezing rain that followed, I was praying hard that the district would break their tradition of keeping schools open when everything around us shut down. As the ice thickened, I figured my chances of a snow day were getting better. I woke up this morning (three times, actually), to check the district and the WP websites only to discover that EVERY district for about 100 miles (maybe further, but they don't report those in the WP) was closed. Except mine, which had a "Two hour delay". We didn't have those back home, but the idea is to start school two hours late in order for the roads to clear enough to get kids safely to school.

After whining to my roommates and another friend, I finally accepted the fact that I'd have to go in to work, and turned to the first task at hand: De-icing my car. Walking down the front stairs was hard enough! This is what I found:

Maybe not that unusual for some of you, but I'm from Boise. We hardly even get snow, much less ice storms. It took about 20 minutes to actually get my car drive-able.

Once I actually got off of our street, the roads were fine (which is good, because I swore that if I started sliding at all on the ice, I was turning right around and spending the day at home). Upon getting to work, however, I discovered that my principal had sent us an email this morning saying that our school wouldn't be starting until 11:30. Which is lunchtime, meaning that I would really only be there to "teach" from 12:30 - 1:55. Lovely. We rounded up all the social studies classes (about 18 kids total from 5 combined classes) and showed a documentary on apartheid. Sure glad I went into work for that.

You could argue with me that the government stayed open (with liberal leave), that the roads were fine, etc. I agree- my commute could have been much worse, and I actually did get some things done today. But I'm still mourning my snow day.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Purchase of the week

I did it. Finally. I bought a piano. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to play the piano, and do so every chance I get, even if it means that I end up accompanying choirs/relief society/institute/whatever. But since I graduated from high school, I've never had one in any apartment/house that I've lived in. At BYU, there was always one nearby (usually in a practice room or a rec room at whatever complex I lived in), but it was always tricky to find time to use it when other people weren't also using the room. Since I've been in DC, I've relied on the church and the hospitality of friends when I want or need to play.

One of my favorite parts of spending time at home is my family's Sunday tradition of hanging out around the piano and singing. I'm not entirely sure when or how it started, but on Sunday afternoons someone inevitably starts playing something singable, and within a few minutes the whole family is there, singing along in pretty decent harmony. Les Miserables is a long-time favorite, but plenty of other music has been added along the way. Michael pretends he doesn't enjoy our sing-a-longs, but I know better. The rest of us have all sung in various choirs, but my brothers took /are taking voice lessons as well, and both sound really good.

I decided that it's probably a good thing that I get home from work an hour or so before my roommates, because I'll probably carry on the tradition all by myself. :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"We Are One"

On Sunday after church, I went down to the mall to check out the "We Are One" concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Designed as a kick-off event to a week full of inauguration madness, the concert was a huge celebrity tribute to our new celebrity president. We didn't get there early enough to get inside the secured area, but we got to see people like Bon Jovi, Jamie Foxx, Stevie Wonder and Josh Groban on the jumbo-trons a mile (literally) away from the memorial. My favorites? U2 and the fact that my kids were up there singing with Beyonce, Garth Brooks and Springsteen. Pretty awesome. You should check it out:
On the way to the concert.
Just in case you were confused, the U.S. isn't a military state.

The crowds, just practicing for Tuesday

Jay and me, enjoying the crowds...i mean, the concert

Someone famous on stage. I'm still trying to figure out who it is.

The "O"-nauguration

I'm just going to assume that you all watched the inauguration and you don't need me to explain the process to you (plus I've done it in six different classes over the past 48 hours and the speech is worn a little thin). Before this year, I've never really watched an inauguration before. I just figured that the presidency would change hands (or not) at noon on January 20, and that things would eventually change a little bit. And also, last time we actually had a change in the president, I was 16.

I don't have a job that's cool enough to land me tickets to the inauguration itself, but I do have some friends that are willing to stay up all night and then stand all day in the cold to be a part of history. Louise, Emily and I started our inaugural adventure Monday night. Louise, who works at the National Academy of Science had been given permission to spend the night in her office in Chinatown in preparation for the inauguration, so of course we decided to make a night of it. After running into some friends on the metro (also heading in to sleep in Chinatown) and passing some vendors selling all sorts of crazy Obama gear (the weirdest thing I heard of: "Obama Scent". Whatever that is), we set up camp in her office.

Starting the trek to Louise's office. And looking like we're on our way camping.

Ok, maybe we were camping after all.

After discovering (thanks, Jay!) that we couldn't actually access the national mall from where we were, we joined thousands of other people in the 3rd street tunnel, passing under the mall to reach the south side, where the entrances were open.

How many of you can say that you walked through a freeway tunnel?

Then, after waiting around for several hours and allowing my feet to freeze completely, the program started, and you all know how that story ends.

Two million of my closest friends.

Marci, Lindsey, Alan and me, trying really hard not to freeze to death.

The man himself. Or rather, his image on the jumbo-tron since we were forever away from the Capitol.

I'm pretty excited about an Obama presidency. I mean, he definitely has some policies that I don't like (health care, for instance), but for the most part I think the hope he has brought to the country is a huge step. My biggest concern is this pervasive mentality that he is the Messiah. That all of the sudden, starting at noon on January 20, all the problems that this country faces are about to get better. I hate to break it to you, people, but he's still human. Give it some time. And take some responsibility for yourself. I think President Obama himself gets it, it's just everyone else that's a little off. Oh, and the Civil War? Yeah, that was over in 1865. Not 2 days ago.