Monday, June 28, 2010

Let your Light so Shine

I quote I read from a talk by Robert D. Hales a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle of the LDS Church. I was touched by the idea of our constant need to bring light into our lives, both spiritual and emotional.

"This past winter I had the opportunity to learn more about my lungs. I became very aware that we cannot store oxygen. We cannot save the air we need to breathe, no matter how hard we try. Moment by moment, breath by breath, our lives are granted to us and are renewed. So it is with spiritual light. It must be renewed in us on a regular basis. We must generate it day by day, thought by thought, and with daily righteous action if we are to keep the darkness of the adversary away."

I think about how easy it is to allow my vision to be clouded by negativity which leads to hopelessness. I want to remember to always keep my mind focused on the great and wonderful things that are happening in my life, and keep my mind directed towards the eternities that I can see this moment within that context.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cross country moving...the non-stressful version

Well since I am the one wanting to pack so early, I thought I should add my thoughts to the conversation. So I know that packing a month and a half before we leave might sound a little ridiculous, but I thought why not? We have a lot of stuff that we don't use everyday, or even every week, so why keep all that stuff around to be frantically packed in a couple days. It always seems to take so much longer to get everything packed and ready to go when you're in the "frantic packing" stage. While packing little bits early on seems to take no time at all. All that I'm saying is I've done the "pack everything in your apartment in one day" quite a few times and I am done. I don't like the stress of packing up the house and the moving van in one day and then being exhausted the next day (which sometimes is when you're driving across the country to your new place of residence). So while packing early might be a little crazy, I'm going to be excited when that last week in Provo comes and all we need to do is load up the U-pack cube with our already neatly packed boxes, and then relax...oh and don't worry, Bryson will be grateful too. :)

Summer Lovin....

Its hot. I know I shouldn't complain, because there are people in much hotter places than Provo, UT, but Whitney and I have been trying to figure out how to sleep at night. (See above picture for our current "wind tunnel" configuration of our bedroom - I'm sitting on our bed)

After reading a very entertaining posting of ways to beat the heat, we decided to spend at least one day experimenting with the idea of trying to go without A/C, with the assumption that by not turning on the A/C (which is only a unit in our front room), the heat in the evening would be more bearable...

So, armed with misting spray bottles, tubs of water to dip our feet in, and strategically placed fans (we decided to forgo many of the ideas in the posting of wandering the home in clothes - or absence thereof - that may scare away children and neighbors), we decided to champion the day without A/C.

We made it. We didn't enjoy it, but we made it. We're particularly embarrassed to realize that the high today was only 84 (it will get into the high 90's in the next 10 days...). We napped most of the afternoon away (no hallucinations unfortunately) and then spent the evening trying to cool our house down. Admittedly, it was much cooler once we opened the doors and windows an hour after the hottest temperature of the day had passed, and its quite nice in our home now (at 11 at night).

I just kept thinking to myself, I spent two years in Italy without A/C, and those were hot days, how in the world can I not handle this anymore? I used to be totally happy in ridiculously hot days (wearing slacks, a shirt, and a tie no less!), have I become that wimpy? Or is it just the fact that the A/C is sitting there, taunting me, that I feel like I'm torturing myself?

On a funny side note, I feel absolutely no guilt about how much I didn't pack into my day today. Of course, I spent some time reading a good book, but nothing particularly intellectually demanding - the Percy Jackson series - and I sent out the recordings of my most recent choir concert to the members of the choir, but that's about it. Usually I would be at the piano for awhile, writing a few lectures here and there, but doing nothing was PERFECTLY acceptable, despite everything on my list....

Monday, June 21, 2010


So...before you look at the picture below. Consider that we are not moving until August 2nd. It is June 21st, which means we aren't moving for SEVEN WEEKS.

That's right, she began backing (well, I should say WE). We have bare walls and empty bookshelves...kinda' depressing.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Friday Evening Walk

Walking home from work on Friday, I happened to pass by these gorgeous trees. They seemed to bloom overnight. After raving about them at dinner, Bryson persuaded me to take a walk back to the trees so that I could get some pictures of them, and I'm glad he did! We also visited the duck pond and stopped to admire some beautiful roses. It was a lovely summer evening walk, and a wonderful opportunity to enjoy nature in full bloom. :)

I love seeing the moon when it's still light outside.

Pink and purple were the colors of the day.

Stopping to smell the roses :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

BYU Spring Chorale 2010

This past weekend, the BYU Spring Chorale put on their concert, conducted by me! After only 6 weeks of rehearsal, we were able to put together a great concert with a variety of music. The camera was placed to get my face (many audition tapes require it) so the balance isn't always the best, and a few of the voices closest to the camera stick out. As a result I didn't post the final two songs, simply because you can't hear all of the parts very well. When the CD comes, I'll post the audio files there!

Our opener was Benjamin Britten's Jubilate Deo. It is such an energetic piece and has a brilliant Organ part (played wonderfully by Ruth Eldredge). Be sure to enjoy the rest of the posts below!

Two Prayers

These are possibly my two favorites of the concert. Two prayers, one by Richard Farrant (Lord, for thy Tender Mercy's Sake) and Felix Mendelssohn (Verleih uns Frieden) that are both lovely supplications.

Old Time Religion

Both of these melodies are associated with early American Christian groups and have the exciting marriage of faith in Christ and the energy of the American Frontier. I think you'll really enjoy both numbers.

Two Hymn Arrangements

The penultimate set were two arrangements of Hymns by my former roommate Danny McDavitt. He did a wonderful job, particularly since he didn't have very much time to put them together for us. Jared Starr (Junior at BYU) played the violin for Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer, and Camille Balleza played the piano.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What do you do when....

The most frustrating thing for me as a teacher is to run into a student who is unmotivated. This is partially related to the fact that I've realized the limits of what a teacher can actually accomplish. A lot of my time as a teacher is spent instructing - transferring information in a theoretical format via words, examples, and analogies to my students. Once I've done that, it seems that students have two ways to handle that information.

1. They keep it in its theoretical form; phrases, words, and facts to be memorized and repeated later (on some supposed test)

2. They apply it. They allow the knowledge to mix with the other experiences they have had and the knowledge they have acquired. They allow it to inform their perspective on the other situations they encounter. They let it become integrated into their knowledge base.

It seems to me that the people who fall into the second group, who let learning constantly shape their outlook and their understanding (whether it stays within in the category of singing or music history, or whether it affects their other classes or even interactions with peers), are the people who have more fulfilling lives and who actually end up doing better in class.

More importantly, they are much more fun to teach, because they love every little piece of information they get!

So, can you help someone convert from a number one learner to a number two learner? How do you do it?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We Have a HOME!!!

So, we finally decided to give in and have a blog for the both of us, instead of forcing you to go to several different blogs. We're not sure how it will all work out yet, but you can always trust this blog of the most important information.

So, the most important news, and the impetus for this new blog. We finally have a home in Wisconsin! After several months of online shopping and failed attempts with various landlords (Apparently people don't trust you when you want to get it all figured out without ever actually meeting in person...), we finally have been approved for an apartment!

Perhaps the most tedious part of waiting was when our entire application was approved, except that they hadn't yet heard from our current property managers about whether or not we paid our rent on time. After two weeks and multiple phone calls from both us and the Wisconsin Rental company, they FINALLY faxed back the reference and we were approved seconds later. We are so excited, and as you can see in the pictures below, it is a beautiful apartment! (ps, the new property manager went in and took these pictures for us, how cool is that?)

It has a fireplace, can't you imagine a pair of recliners facing this?