Friday, May 31, 2013

I didn't teach math, I taught kids.

Yesterday marked the last day of school of my first year teaching. I can't adequately describe how I never thought yesterday would come. 

And yet, it did.

Even though I felt like I was a failure in so many ways, and was overwhelmed and pessimistic so many days, I loved it. After our mini faculty meeting at the end of school yesterday, I started to cry. When I noticed other teachers looking over at me with a "She's really doing that?" expression, I swallowed up my emotions, and quickly left the campus.

But now I can do whatever I want. And part of that is reading through my students' end-of-year evaluations. I'll include some below.

"This year math was amazing."

"You did fun creative lessons instead of just teaching us math."

"She was also really fun while she was teaching, and if we were having a hard time staying focused, she would help us wake up by singing fun songs and having us dance goofy dances."

"Thanks for being the best math teacher I've ever had =)." 

"I really liked Mrs. Jacob because I felt like she was easy-going and also made sure we got our work done and learned or had the opportunity to learn what was needed."

"Mrs. Jacob did better at singling out struggling students than other math teachers I've had have done."

"My math teacher was awesome this year. She made class fun and interesting so that I actually wanted to go back. It was a place I enjoyed. Thank you for this amazing math year."

"My math teacher was good because she didn't take the easy way out. She always made sure that every student had the best opportunity to learn."

"Mrs. Jacob treated the class as equals to her instead of being beneath her."

"She became my favorite math teacher I've had at the Jr. high and I really enjoyed her class, she was patient and easy to talk to and understanding."

"My teacher did everything in her power to help us learn."

"She always taught me so I was ready for the test, and she never let me fail."

"Mrs. Jacob did very well. She told stories which are the best and hers were actually really funny and I enjoyed that."

"I think that my math teacher did well in not just teaching us math, but being our friend."

"She didn't teach just one method, she taught multiple ones, so that students could find the one that makes sense to them the most."

"She was always helping us become better learners."

"She would sympathize with you if you didn't get a question."

"She did great!!!!! This year I understood math a lot more than I have before and now I like math a lot more too."

"I felt like I could bond with her."

"You actually never gave up."

"Two of the things that really stood out to me were that she became friends with her students and she took the time to make sure each student understood."

"She was always there when you needed her, and she was just awesome in every way there was."

"Of all the things that you did well, the best one that you could possibly do was making math fun."

"It was the best math class I ever had in my life and she didn't bore us to death like most math teachers."

"Mrs. Jacob, thank you so much for all your efforts this year. You have made me a better person."


And then some humorous ones:

"One student brought up the fact that there is a pineapple in every Psych episode. You simply gave them the stink eye and they were quiet and we were back on track."

"Mrs. Jacob did a really good job of making math class fun. I have a U.S. history class that is really boring, but I have math afterwards which has always been more interesting than talking about dead people."

"She is really sweet and I like her clothes. She also does a great job on teaching math."

"She also is very patient with her students even when they don't really deserve it."

"She's really nice and pretty." 

"I would also like to warn you that Mrs. Jacob has an eye of a hawk when it comes to phones; she will see it, she will take it."

"I think that my math teacher doesn't have to change anything, because she is like the perfect teacher any student could ever have. She's always nice and is understanding, so it makes it easier to learn around her."

"She is a very fun and happy teacher all the time unless people are being stupid."

"No other math teacher would beat her because she is the best one ever!"


More than the Pythagorean Theorem, the Distance Formula, the Slope Formula, or the relationships between similar polygons, students remembered how they felt. How I made them feel. I'm so grateful that somehow I was able to keep the perspective that they mattered more than the content. Because they do. They matter more than higher grades, or better test scores. I will admit that without this summer break I would've probably gone insane. Or died.

 But I miss them. All of them.

Being home with Hiram has been wonderful, though! SO wonderful. Here's just a few reasons why:

  • Hiram sings to me. He makes up his own love songs or re-writes old classics... like "Rubber Ducky."
  • I get to hug and kiss Hiram all the time. Whenever I want.
  • We're watching the Star Wars series together, and get to giggle over cute R2-D2 and silly C-3PO.
  • Usually Hiram's the one who welcomes me home. Instead, I get to watch from our front window as he walks up and mouths from outside, "You are beautiful."

Monday, May 27, 2013

All the Allreds...

This last Saturday I was lucky enough to be invited to Spring City, Utah's "Heritage Day Celebration". I traveled with Stephen and Tracy Taylor, and Emery Smith. Tracy is my Grandma Allen's first cousin, and Emery is her daughter.

As we traveled down, Tracy read to us from "the red binder" which is a compilation of stories and biographies of our ancestors that my grandma put together years ago. Emery and I listened to stories we'd heard before, and learned new things about our Allred ancestors.

Overall, it was a beautiful day and I am very very grateful for the opportunity I have to spend time with family members and develop deeper relationships with them.  It was beautiful learning about the faith of my ancestors, hearing tales about their hardships and being strengthened and comforted I could make it through my own (which sound so trivial in comparison).

This is the Spring City Spring. Cold, refreshing water!

James Allred is my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather. He was also a great man. You can read about that here.
This is the Endowment/Allred School House

Tracy and I in front of the schoolhouse.

I love unkept gardens and yards. It must be from reading stories like The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables.

This is a very very VERY old flag. It's the "Betsy Ross" Thirteen-star version.

I don't know what house this is, but they restored it beautifully.

This is the "Judge Jacob Johnson House". It is beautiful. They have done a great job restoring it.

These poppies were HUGE! Each about as large as my hand.

More poppies.

There were also very large irises.

Such small, but meaningful flowers.

Emery and I at the garden behind the Judge Jacob Johnson House. So beautiful.

Bleeding Hearts. 

The weather was PERFECT. The clouds were there just when we needed them.

I thought this tree deserved to be seen.

As we drove back into Provo, we stopped at the Provo Cemetery to see family graves and place flowers. 
I was moved that so many people had brought beautiful flowers for their loved ones.
Maud was my great-great-Grandmother.
Spring City is a darling town. I harbor a hope that someday Hiram and I could live there (I sent him photos of houses currently for sale), but it probably won't be realized. Hiram said we don't need to buy a house right now...

 I loved learning a little more about my heritage, and growing closer to family members that are both here now and who have passed on.

If you're curious about your heritage, try FamilySearch!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

That fool of a fairy Lucinda...

I can still remember it: The Book Fair. We would receive the Scholastic catalog, and circle everything that looked interesting to us. The school librarian and some moms would set up the library as a bookstore - carts of new books, coloring books, school supplies, stuffed animals, and fake tattoos.

I was in third grade, and I devoured books even then. [Side note: I have finished three books in the past two days. I devour books.] I would leave a different book in each room, and just pick up wherever I left off. You could find my books under my covers, stuffed in the cushions of the couch, on coffee tables, and on the bathroom counter.

At the scholastic book fair my mom purchased Gail Carson Levine's "Ella Enchanted", and I was eight years old. Now I am twenty-three, and have read it at least 500 times. That is not an exaggeration by any means.  I can easily quote the first line and last line from memory, and if you were to read it aloud, I could quote along with you.

I cannot tell you why I love it so much. It ranks in my "Top 4 List" of "Gone with the Wind", "Jane Eyre", and "Pride and Prejudice". It is that good to me.

But I can tell you about my experiences today.

Gail Carson Levine was doing a book signing at the Provo City Library. When I first saw this, I freaked out.  For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to tell Ms. Levine that her book changed me, that it's been my favorite since we took it off the shelf in third grade.

I almost forgot to go to the signing. I thought about it, told my sister-in-laws Hannah and Emma about it a few weeks ago, and then forgot about it again. I've been to the library four times or so in the past month, and was continually reminded about the sign.

Good news, we went. As we left, I almost decided to leave all but "Ella Enchanted" at home, but at the last minute ran back into the house. As Hannah and Emma and I drove to the library (which is only a few blocks from my house), I giggled about how my copy of "The Two Princesses of Bamarre" was waterlogged and squiggly-looking. I also realized that in my rush, I had forgotten to put on my wedding ring and left my cell phone at home.

We arrived about forty minutes early, on purpose. A volunteer was passing out post-it notes for us to write our names on, and I realized that somehow, I only had three books in my bag.  I had brought four. Hannah gave me the car keys, and I ran downstairs to check for the book. It wasn't there. I thought, "Maybe it's at home." In my long-sleeved button-up shirt and 70-degree muggy weather, I RAN home. I'm not a runner. But I ran. I heard people laughing in their cars, and just hoped it wasn't at me.

It wasn't in my house. BUT! My wedding ring was. I slipped that on, grabbed my phone, and called Hannah. I asked her to double-check if they were holding it. They weren't. But she said they'd say little prayers for me, and so I did the same. Heavenly Father, I know this is a silly, simple thing. But it means a lot to me.

I was about to cry! "The Two Princesses of Bamarre" is one of my favorites! I love the sisterly-love and I grieved over the loss of my well-loved copy. I ran the rest of the way to the library, checked the car again, and then walking through the parking lot searched the rained-on ground for any sign of my book.

No luck.

I asked the security guard inside, trying to wipe the sweat from my forehead.

No luck.

He sent me to circulation. The girl at the desk went and checked the back, and the second hand on my watch was telling me that I was running out of time! I rebraided my hair so that it would be off my neck.

She came back. No luck.

I went up two flights of stairs, looking for any sign of a missing book. By this point, I felt disgusting. I was too hot, too stressed, and too late. I asked the girl selling brand-new copies if anyone had brought her a copy of my book. She said yes! And said that Mariella had taken it to Lost-and-Found or to Circulation about 15 minutes ago. I had ten minutes left until Ms. Levine showed up for the signing.

Well, rather than run down two flights to circulation AGAIN (I knew it wasn't down there), I looked for Mariella. It was chaos. The Children's Book Festival had a May Pole, kids running around with streamers and faces painted and strollers everywhere... but I found her. She told me that it wasn't in Circulation, but in the Events Office, on the second floor.

Down one flight I went, and I told the man, "That is my book." I must have sounded accusatory, because he handed me the book immediately and said, "Well, they just dropped it off." I think I said thank you, and then I ran up the flight of stairs again.

Seven minutes. Hannah and Emma hugged me, we laughed about how silly it all was and I said I wouldn't tell Hiram yet. I always lose everything.

Gail Carson Levine walked in, small in stature but so influential in words, and sat in a large velveted throne. Even though my name was written on a post-it for her to see, she confirmed that it was "C-E-B-R-E" and asked how it was pronounced. After I said, "Say-bruh", she told me it was a pretty name and she began to sign.

I told her that "Ella Enchanted" has been my favorite book since I was eight years old, and she made some comment and smiled. She finished signing all my copies, and Hannah and Emma and I left, side-stepping the children with ribbons and the May Pole and fairy-tale characters. We took some pictures on the steps, laughed about our mispronunciations of her book titles, and climbed back in the car.

The only copies of her books I have in Provo.
We have so many more of her books in California!
Also, my mom bought a hardcover version of "Ella Enchanted" for me;
my paperback is torn in at least two pieces. It's VERY well loved.

"And so, with laughter and love, we lived happily ever after."

Friday, May 17, 2013

Lovin' Looks

A few months ago, my grandma told me that I looked at Hiram with the same adoring love that First Lady Nancy Reagan looked at Ronald Reagan.  Like he was the entire universe and could do no wrong.

Nancy looking at Ronald

As they were discussing this once, my grandpa turned to my grandma and said, "Dixie, why don't you look at me like Nancy looked at Ronald?"

My grandma replied, "I will when you're president."

It's nice to know where some of my sassiness came from. But really, why would I NOT look at Hiram like Nancy looked at Ronald?

Hiram looking at me
Look at the love his looks give me.

He is everything.