Thursday, August 30, 2007

Funny Boy

Zack at my parent's house.
He was suppose to be handing out ice cream to guests, but he was sampling it first.

Last week I went over to my Aunt Jeanine's house to see her and her kids. Jeanine was on the phone and I was talking to Zack when the doorbell rang. Zack ran to answer the door and Jeanine asked me if I'd go get the front door. Zack had opened the door, but it had a chain on it so it wasn't opened all the way. Our cousin, Amber, was at the door with her two kids, Dannika and Dakota. Zack saw them and as I was trying to unhook the chain, he said, "Dannika, Dakota, I'm playing with my best friend, Mandy. She's big like my mom and dad." Amber and I burst out laughing; it was hilarious.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I'm Broken

Today at work I reached for the fan that was on my desk and bent down to put it on the floor. As I did, my back tightened in pain and I yelped, "Ah!" I had students in the room who looked up at me with concern in their eyes. "I just hurt my back," I replied. "I'm fine." But I was not fine. I suddenly became extremely warm and my vision became slightly yellow and fuzzy. I knew that if I didn't sit down immediately, I was going to pass out (I've had experience before). So I stopped lecturing and told my students I needed a minute to sit down. After a minute my head felt clearer, but my back still ached. It's only gotten worse since then. I can only walk if I'm hunched over like an 80 year-old. Could it come at a worse time? I seriously doubt it. I'm praying that I wake up tomorrow and I'm miraculously cured. If not it's going to make for an interesting 3rd day of school.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Couple of Thoughts . . .

I thought I'd share a couple of thoughts with each of you:
  • Tuesday I started back at work. After 10 weeks of complete laziness, I'm having a hard time fitting work into my schedule. I still want to do all the fun and lazy things I did over the summer, but it's turning out to be a bit difficult with this whole work thing.
  • Our class sizes are crazy this year. There's one teacher who has 56 students in a reading class!! As a parent, I would be livid. I was thinking, "How do you even fit 56 students into one room?" As I was thinking this, I remembered my Senior English class. There were not enough desks for every student so my friend, Shadley, and I sat on top of a small table in the back of the room. As students, we loved this. Our teacher said she would get us chairs, but she never did so we sat there for the entire year. What kind of a teacher does that?! Well, now that I think of it, her idea of Senior Literature was reading Jurassic Park and watching the movie, Hamlet. [Our principal promises that the reading class of 56 will be cut in half after our school gets approved to hire another teacher, but that won't be until after Labor Day]
  • A couple of days ago, Alina (my roommate) made delicious chicken. She breaded chicken thighs with honey mustard pretzels. It was fantastic!! She placed the honey mustard pretzels in a large Ziploc and crushed them. She then added honey and mustard to the mix to make it a little sticky. Finally she dumped the chicken thighs in the Ziploc and coated them. She cooked them in a casserole dish on 375 degrees until they were finished. Try it!!
  • For those who know her, Alina's birthday is on Monday, August 27th so send her a quick email or actually mail her a greeting card.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Harry Potter

My Harry Potter story begins in 2003. I was a new reading teacher and the world of young adult literature was all a-buzz with words of Harry Potter. So as a good reading teacher I thought I should read the Harry Potter books. I picked up the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but after 6 months and only 150 pages read, I discarded it for Madeleine Albright's Madam Secretary: A Memoir.

The years passed and I saw the hype mount over and over again as new books and movies were released. I listened patiently as my friends participated in conversations I thought were being conducted in a foreign language: animagi, auror, death eaters, dementors, hippogriffs, muggles, OWLs, parselmouth, portkeys, quidditch, squibs, unforgivable curses, veelas. (For a complete Harry Potter glossary, click HERE). Seriously, I didn't get it.

A couple months ago I was at a get-together when my friends again began speaking this unknown language. I rolled my eyes and tuned out. Then I heard words that hit close to home: "I tried to read the first book, but I didn't like it."

"Me too," I replied, excited that I had something to contribute.

She then continued, "So I started with the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I figured I had seen the first two movies so I'd be okay to start with the third book and now I love the books!!"

Great, I thought - another convert. She, and several of my other friends, adamantly told me I'd like the third book. "It's when it really starts getting good," they kept saying. I was extremely skeptical. How good can a series be if you have to read (or skip) the first 650 pages for it to "start getting good."

However, I had an entire summer in front of me so I decided I'd take up their challenge. I had seen the first two movies so I decided to start with the third book. I got through it. I didn't quite see what all the hubbub was about, but at least I had learned more about this secret language.

It took me awhile to pick up the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but about 10 days after finishing the third book, I started the fourth. This book I quickly got through and really enjoyed. It was no longer a chore or a quest to read, but something I wanted to do.

Again, upon finishing it, it took me a few days to start the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. By then the fifth movie was out and although a few weeks previously I had no intention of seeing it, I really wanted to finish the book so I could rush off to the movie theatre and see how the book had been adapted to film. Because I was out of town for about a month, it took me a long time to finish the fifth book, but I did. I liked it and I liked the movie. I thought the portrayals of Professor Umbridge and Luna Lovegood were fantastic!!

Again, for some reason, it was difficult to start the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. (I don't know what it is about starting them). Although it was difficult to start, it was not difficult to finish. I finished it and immediately picked up the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In a short 72 hours I had finished the final two books. Upon finishing the books I now see what all the fuss was about. I loved them and felt a little mourning knowing that the saga was over and that I would no longer read anything new about these characters I'd grown to love (and some despise).

I loved that "The Boy Who Lived" lived, that Snape was a hero (I always held out hope for him), that Dumbledore wasn't perfect, that Neville came into his own, and although it was heart-breaking to read that one of my favorite characters, Lupin, died, it was heart-warming to read that the loyal professors and many students defended Hogwarts and stood up to all that was evil.

Therefore, I apologize for all the snide Harry Potter remarks I've made throughout the years and declare myself a convert.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


My friend, Nicholas, made a great post comparing each state to students in a high school graduating class. I thought it was brilliant so I thought I'd share it with each of you (with his permission, of course). Here it is:

California would be the class president and the most popular student in the school. Everything California does would set a trend that other states would follow. It's just the ultimate in cool and knows it.

Texas would be the star quarterback on the football team, the jock that's also a jerk, whose macho intensity attracts all the girls to where it can use and abuse. But the girls don't seem to mind, so long as they've all had Texas.

Oklahoma is the loyal sidekick that follows Texas everywhere, hoping to bask in reflected glory and receive all the throwaways its buddy disposes of.

Florida would be the popular girl, the head cheerleader who is everyone's "favourite travel destination." And yes, she does have a lot mileage on her.

Not to be undone, Nevada would be the student who masquerades at night as a stripper/call girl. You can be assured that whatever happens with her, stays with her. She also loves to gamble, taking huge risks that would scare the timid.

New York would be the pretentious snob who thinks everyone wants to be like New York, but would never be as cool. Doesn't understand why everyone looks to an upstart like California. New York is from old money, from a well known family. Why wouldn't anyone want to be like New York? Why doesn't everyone HEART NY?

Maine would be the writer of the class, an expert at observing the scene.

New Hampshire and Vermont would be fraternal twins, one a Birkenstock-wearing, latte-drinking, NPR-listening, environmentally conscious, socialist vegan; the other a Rush Limbaugh-listening, NRA-gun owning, beer drinking, Ayn Rand-reading, libertarian carnivore.

Massachusetts would be the goth chick flirting with Wicca and lesbianism.

The District of Columbia would be confused. It doesn't know why it had to be a district when it really wants to be a state.

Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Delaware would be the rich kids who have a trust fund to look forward to after getting their college degree and a few Eurail trips abroad.

Utah would be the token Mormon student in the class, who often gets picked on by the Southern Baptist fundamentalist South Carolina. Catholic Maryland is also in the same boat, having to defend itself from the same intolerance. Pennsylvania is religiously open. One month, it flirts with Quakerism, another month, it's Mennonites, another month it's all out Amish. It can't seem to make up it's mind, but it's the most religiously tolerant of all the states.

Virginia is the most stately of the students, as it has older siblings who were class presidents, but still remains embarrassed by the blue collar background of cousin West Virginia. Similarly, North Carolina, the basketball star is embarrassed by its intolerant cousin South Carolina. And besides that, North Carolina is overshadowed by the star quality and popularity of Illinois on the basketball team.

Indiana and Kansas are farmer states, hardworking and low key. At least they aren't like the least popular North Dakota, who sits alone at the same table as that other loner, the Cowboy wannabe, Wyoming.

Iowa enjoys attention when the popular states try to win it's vote for Student Council, then is ignored the rest of the year.

Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Kentucky are the trailer park trash who prefer to remain ign'ant and disdain the cool states by sticking faithfully to it's own kind.

Georgia is a state who prides itself on rising above and beyond its origins in that trailer park clique, trying to fit in with the cool states, going so far as to discard its racist clothing for hipper clothes. It won't even acknowledge the existence of its former clique.

Louisiana and Tennessee are in the school band, adding their own unique musical styles.

Ohio has an identity crisis because everyone always seems to confuse it with Idaho or Iowa, while Michigan has a split personality.

New Jersey is the easy girl who has slept with New York, Illinois, California and Texas and doesn't understand why no one respects her.

Wisconsin is the earnest student who dreams of one day joining the Peace Corps.

Minnesota is proud of its Nordic heritage and works as the school mascot, complete with a feather boa.

Missouri is a know-it-all and a show-off.

Nebraska is another football jock who takes the sport more seriously than Texas (who's only in it for the glory and the girls).

Colorado is an independent sports fanatic: skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, you name it.

South Dakota tries to distance itself from its unpopular cousin North Dakota by being more involved in student council activities.

New Mexico and Arizona are the minority students whose parents don't speak English. One of them is into New Age spirituality and UFO sightings, the other is a bit more traditional in the grand scheme of things.

Idaho and Montana are the anarchists who are anti-Student Government and flirt with white supremacist ideas.

Washington and Oregon are the environmentally-conscious students who are members of the science club and have started a recycling program at the school and lobbied to have soy milk and vegetarian options in the cafeteria.

Alaska is the rugged mountain man/outdoorsman of the class, while Hawaii's ethnicity always causes the other states to question it's citizenship.

Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the American Virgin Islands are the exchange students who have no desire to become American citizens.

Brilliant, right? To see his original post, click HERE.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Guitar Heroes

My brother, Louis, and my dad, Ronnie, playing Guitar Hero.

Wizard Rock

My roommate, Alina, has recently discovered Wizard Rock. Apparently there are dozens of bands all dedicated to Harry Potter. These bands include Harry and the Potters, Draco and the Malfoys, The Whomping Willow, and The Parselmouths. Alina has made a post about it. To see her post and hear some of the songs, click HERE.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Giant Pretzel

I forgot to post this picture, but while I was in Niagara Falls last month, my dad bought us soft pretzels for lunch. He had no idea how big they were. Needless to say, we didn't need three of them for the three of us, so we took this one back to the hotel. It was so HUGE!!! I wanted everyone to really get a sense of it's enormity so I took this picture of the GIANT pretzel with my cell phone.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mitchell George Johnson

On Tuesday, August 7th, my Aunt Jeanine gave birth to her second child, Mitchell George Johnson. He looks so different than his older brother Zack. Mitch has dark hair and chubby cheeks. Zack didn't have hair until he was over a year old and then it was blond. Also, Zack is tall and lean, especially in the face. Here are a few precious pictures.


Zack and Mitch

Me and Mitch

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Two Weeks Back East - Part Two

To clarify: Yes, I was back east from July 11th - 16th. I then returned to the great state of Utah (and Wyoming for the weekend); I then flew back to the east coast. I'm still staying with The Stewarts. Here's what we've been up to during week two:

Tuesday, July 31st:
Today we went to Philadelphia. We saw Independence Hall, Benjamin Franklin's grave, etc. Of course, we also ate Philly Cheesesteaks. I've been to Philly a couple of times, but it was still good to see it again.

Wednesday, August 1st:
Today was suppose to be an All-Day PJ Day, but around noon we decided to run errands. Hence, I had to get dressed. Don't worry - I still did plenty of lazy things: finished reading the 5th Harry Potter book, watched 3 episodes of Heroes, and chilled out with the kiddos.

Thursday, August 2nd:
Today we took the kids to Hersey, PA and visited Chocolate World, headquarters for Hersey Chocolate. As soon as we walked in the door an old man walked up to us, held out a bucket of mini-Hersey bars, and asked, "Care for some medicine?" Chocolate as medicine. Yes, I knew then that I loved PA. We had delicious chocolate milkshakes and went on a ride that explained the chocolate making process. The best thing about the ride was that it contained robotic, singing cows declaring that their milk makes the chocolate "moootritious." I loved it!! That night Ruth and I had another fun girl's night. We went and saw No Reservations. We then went to Ruby Tuesday's and ordered appetizers and desserts. It made me so sick to my stomach. I vowed never again!!

Friday, August 3rd:
Today we took the kids to the free movie again. The feature was Over the Hedge. It had a very funny part where the animals were talking about what food means to humans. After over indulging ourselves the night before, I thought it was very appropriate and humorous. The vow I had made the night before didn't last long. In fact, that night we went to Red Lobster and I had a pound of crab legs. (Seriously - will begin diet when I return home). We also went to the movies again. This time a grown-up movie, The Bourne Ultimatum. Awesome. Seriously awesome!!

Saturday, August 4th:
Today we went to Lancaster. This area is mainly known as the center of the Amish community, but it also has a great outlet mall (with horse and buggy parking). We shopped and shopped. I considered this my exercise for the week.

Sunday, August 5th:
Today we went to church then came home and had lunch. Immediately after lunch, we spent the entire afternoon cooking for a dinner party. Ruth had invited two families from her ward over for dinner. I told Ruth it reminded me of an African tribal family who spends every waking moment preparing food, eating food, or cleaning up food. A diet of Lean Pockets has kept me from this lifestyle for many years (and hopefully will continue to keep me from it).

Monday, August 6th:
Today was my last full day in PA. It was a little sad. Again, we went shopping, out to eat, and watched movies. This has been one of the laziest vacations I've been on (and I've loved every minute of it). Ruth and I share a great love for horror movies so we decided to watch The Messengers. We both decided that we get more frightened than we used to. Is it the old age? If so, I must fight back - will continue watching horror movies.

Tuesday, August 7th:
Today I returned from my two weeks of fun. I loved staying with Ryan and Ruth and wanted to say, THANK YOU!!