Saturday, February 23, 2013

Homesick for London

Do you ever look back at your life and wonder what you were doing a year ago from that day? I have been doing that a lot recently. A year ago for me, Nate and I were living in the heart of London. There was never a dull moment in our lives. Last winter was our theater winter. January and February are the slowest times for theater in London because with the lack of tourists during the colder months. So that means cheap tickets for locals! We were seeing a different show almost every weekend and enjoying the tastes and cultures of all the different cuisines. We were wrapped up in the city life and the excitement that that brings. Life couldn't have been better. We were really living it up.

I recently came across this picture. It was the last picture that we took in London. It was in the airport right before we boarded the plane. I think it wasn't until this moment that it really hit me that our time in London had come to a close. Before then, it didn't really seem real. My face in this picture reflects how I was feeling at that moment.... so so sad. 
I felt so sad, frustrated and depressed knowing that our London year was over, but also grateful, blessed and content knowing that we had all of those amazing opportunities that most people never get to have. We visited so many interesting things and met so many cool people. In one year we had seen different parts of England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Holland, Monaco, Italy, and Morocco! What an amazing unforgettable year! 

In the airport I did one last stop at Harrods (they have a store in the airport!) and I bought a few things to take home with me.....a few last memories that I could take with me before our departure. I knew that when I got back to Utah that the whole last year would feel like a big long amazing dream. I wanted to buy some last physical items to hold and remember, proving to myself that our time in London actually did happen and wasn't just some figment of my imagination. 

Sometimes I wish that I was European. :) I love the food, culture, and way of life. I think I was made to be a city girl. I come alive in the city and feel like a new better person. It is such an exciting, adventures, spontaneous life! You can literally just walk outside your front door and be easily entertained. 

I love the opportunities that are given to people that were raised in London or anywhere in Europe. There are so many people that know several languages and can speak them all fluently. They learned them in school and were able to practice them in their home towns around people in their neighborhoods. It is just normal to meet people that speak 2-3+ languages. People grow up traveling regularly with their families. Going to France or Turkey over the weekend isn't a huge event but just a normal occurrence. People grow up learning and appreciating different cultures, understanding that there are good people in every place in the world even if they are different from them. I love that. I love culture. I embrace culture. I love trying new foods and meeting new people. I love being different from others around me and sharing my culture and beliefs with them. I love the excitement of European life and the opportunities that it brings. 

I miss the Food, especially the French food. I miss being able to get these heavenly morsels freely and other desserts/ pastries whenever I want.....

After leaving London, Nate and I moved to Utah because that is where I found a teaching job and where my teaching license was held, and that is also where Nate needed to be to take his LSAT classes. When we first moved back and people would ask us where we were from, we wouldn't know what to say. We would tell them that we most recently moved back from London. They would look at us with confused, stupid looks and say, "Why did you leave London to come to Utah?" Then they would give a little smirk.

I have often thought about this and I would say to myself, they are right! Why did we do such a silly thing? Why would we leave an amazing exciting life to come to such a boring monotonous one? (Sorry, native Utahins.)

This is what I have been struggling with a lot lately. Don't get me wrong, I do love Utah for many reasons. I like being closer to family. I love my job teaching my 1st graders full time. I love our ward here and the kind amazing people that we have met. We love our callings and being able to work with the youth and grow in that way. I love being close to so many temples and having the church building just a few minutes away from our house. We love our little apartment and the nice things that we have in it. We love having our car back and having that freedom of driving wherever we want. We love the American freedom and all the rights that we hold.

But I do miss London. I feel so homesick for it at times and I would move back in a heartbeat if the opportunity every arose. I am glad to be married to Nate who feels the same way as I do about living somewhere exciting. He wants to do International law which would hopefully allow us to move around the globe for different law jobs. It would be our dream to live in France for a year or more and be able to speak French fluently. We love that country. We recently bought the French Rosetta Stone and have been studying it every night which has been a blast!

Hopefully someday we can have another exciting opportunity come into our lives like we did last year. There are so many amazing beautiful places in the world that God created for us, I feel like I want to enjoy all of them while I have the chance! It would be such a shame to live in one place for your whole life and never experience other beauties that were put on this earth for us to enjoy. There is so much out there and I am just bursting at the seams to see what the next few chapters in our lives hold for us.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

There is a 1st Time for Everything....

A couple Saturdays ago I was running errands and I came across a waxing center. I realized that I was due for my monthly lip wax so I ran in to see if they could squeeze me in.

They told me about their 2nd location that they were opening up in Murray the following weekend. Then they told me the good news. For that whole weekend, Friday-Monday, they were doing free waxing. Anything you want from head to toe....absolutely free.

So I signed up. I like free stuff.

The next weekend came along and I was ready to be waxed. I knew that I was going to get my lip waxed since that is a usual for me. I decided to do my chin as well. I figured I might as well. I don't like getting my eyebrows done because I feel like I can shape them just how I like them at home in my own bathroom with my tweezers. But there was one wax that I always wanted to try but never wanted to pay for it and never wanted to suffer through the pain of it......

Bikini Wax.

It always kind of sparked my interest and made me curious. It seemed like it would be a dream come true to never have to shave that area again. Goodbye red bumps, razor rashes, ingrown hairs, cuts, etc. Hello soft, silky, sexy, worry free, hair free skin! But the pain, oh the pain.....I didn't know if it would be worth it.

But when you bring free into the equation it kind of changes everything. I thought to myself, when else am I going to be able to try this out for FREE instead of forking out the $40-60 plus dollars that it usually costs??

Never.

This was a limited time chance that I probably should take advantage of. So I signed myself up for a full bikini wax.

I read about it online before I went in, like what I should do to prepare correctly. I took all the precautions- made sure I exfoliated well, took some ibuprofen an hour before,  showered right before, wore loose clothing, etc. So I felt as ready as I could be......

But I am not going to lie. It hurt. It REALLY HURT. It was very painful and not very pleasant. But it was actually better than I imagined it to be before I went in. I pictured myself screaming out loud, bloody murder, and clenching my nails into the bed. I pictured myself embarrassing myself for how loud I screamed and apologizing to the girl afterwards....

But it wasn't that bad. Really. I didn't even scream. The sides hurt hardly at all actually. They were cake. It was the front area that was the worst. It killed. But it was doable and over quickly.

They kind of trick you at first by having you lie on this bed and putting warm comforting wax all over you. It felt really cozy and nice. Then all of sudden without any warning......BAM! The comfort and coziness is gone and the pain takes over. There was no "1...., 2....., 3," or, "Are you ready?" Nope. None of that. Just rip and repeat. Rip and repeat. No warnings or fluff about it.

It was a little awkward getting my bottom half naked in front of a complete stranger. It was a girl none the less, but still. I tried not to act like it was a big deal to me, even though I felt completely like an idiot. I figured she does this for a living and she sees people like this all day every day. It really isn't a big deal for her. But then I started thinking, what a horrible job! How gross to see people like that all hairy, day in and day out. I mean it wasn't like I was pretty down there. Your hair has to be as long as a grain of rice (long grain) for the wax to pull the hair out. Too long- the hair will rip off, without getting the roots out. Too short- the hair won't come out. Anyway, not really the most attractive site. :) But whatever.

But......The results were great! Amazing! I felt so feminine and smooth. Now I wish I could get it done every 3-4 weeks, which is the recommended time in between each waxing. It really was worth the few minutes of pain for a whole month of smoothness. I think I could become addicted to it. They say, "beauty is pain," right?

I have a future appointment set up for the end of the month....Hopefully the 2nd time around doesn't kill me! We shall see! :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Will You Be My Valentine?

 The night before Valentine's, my niece, Kimber, spent the night at our house. She is amazing at art of all kinds and has recently picked up a new hobby- face painting. She is trying to earn some extra money to go to Ecuador this summer to work in the orphanages, so she has been doing lots of face painting on the side of work and school to raise enough money to go. She is so talented and can do pretty much anything on your face that you could ever imagine!

So after looking on Pinterest for some fun Valentine face painting ideas, we finally found some things that we liked. We woke up early and started the painting. She did some hearts, swirls, XOs, and cupid wings. It turned out so cute! I was so excited and was even more pumped up for the big day at school. One of my favorite things about teaching is dressing up and making a big deal of all of the holidays. In 1st grade, you can come to school looking all crazy and the kids just adore you. They think you are the coolest teacher ever because you dressed up. I could never teach junior high or high school. It just wouldn't be any fun for me! They would all think I was a big freak! My students called me the, "Love Bug," all day and I think that nickname fit well. :) 

(Two nights later, right before I wrote this blog post, I washed my face, and saw a rash forming around my right eye. I have never had an sort of rash before and I don't think that I am allergic to anything. But after looking at it for a while as it started to form even more, I realized that my little rashes were forming into little heart shapes! It dawned on me that it was from the face painting! Why I didn't get it yesterday, I don't know. Weird. But ya, now I have heart shaped rashes on my face! Not on my forehead which is weird, and barely on my left side, but very much so on my right side. Haha! I guess heart shaped rashes are cuter than regular shaped rashes!)

It is crazy how much more fun holidays are when you are surrounded with children. 
This week was a blast. We made valentine cards for their parents to take home, we read valentine stories including "Froggy's First Kiss" which was a hit!, and we made little heart shaped "mailboxes" for them to hold their valentines in. On the big day we had distributed our valentines and then opened them. We also had our big party set up by our room moms.  I have the 3 best room moms I could ever ask for and they always plan such cute things for the kids to do!

 Some of my students were sweet and brought me some Valentine treats. I got loaded up with candy, chocolate, carmel apples, more candy, and more chocolate. I even got an Eiffel Tower statue that had an H on it, for Hembree. The little boy picked it out all by himself for me because he told his mom how much I love Paris and London. :) I do talk about those places a lot in class and we read books about them. I got some cute cards that said, "You are the best teacher ever!," and "I love you!" "You are the best teacher in the universe!" One little boy gave me a bag of Swedish Fish that had a tag on it that said, "You are o-fish-ally my favorite valentine!" Very creative and very cute. I also got a box of See's candy, my favorite. I think I might get a little fatter these next couple of weeks! I still have candy left over in my pantry from Christmas! 

That night Nate and I got some take out Chinese food that is close to our house. Our bishop's family eats there and Nate heard that it was good. Then we came home and snuggled up on the couch as we watched, "Madagascar 3." In the last few weeks, we have watched all 3 of the Madagascar movies. I had never seen them until now! I loved #1 and #2 and thought they were so cute. "I like to move it move it!" I was anxious to see the 3rd one so we bought it on Itunes and watched it. I loved it! 

We had a fun romantic night at home, enjoying each other's company. I'm grateful to have such a fun, caring, kind, sweet, Valentine that loves me and is always there for me when I need him. The night before Valentine's, he cleaned up the entire kitchen and did all the dishes for me while I was sleeping. I woke up to a beautiful, spotless, sparkling kitchen! That is the best present I could have ever asked for! I got Nate something that probably shouldn't be described in detail or pictured on my blog......but I will just let you know that I got it from my friend Victoria, and it was our little Secret. :)

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

When I was little, adults would ask me the typical question that all adults ask children at some point or another....

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

After a little bit of thought, these were my usual responses.

I want to be an.....
Actress, Singer, Artist, Mother, Animal Doctor, Comedian, Cheerleader, Dancer, Photographer, Party Planner, and Teacher. My response would change depending upon the year of my life, and it usually changed frequently throughout the years. I knew that I loved animals, art, singing, laughing, entertaining, dancing, acting, creating things, and children. That's what I knew for sure. What I didn't know is that I didn't have to choose just one. All of those things come wrapped up into one profession.

Now I am grown up and am currently in my profession. I can finally, with surety, answer the question that I was asked a million times when I was little and say.....

I want to be a teacher. I am a teacher. I teach 1st grade.

I look at what a teacher is and does and realize more and more the many roles that a teacher has. A teacher is an actress, singer, artist, mother, doctor, comedian, cheerleader, dancer, photographer and a party planner all wrapped up into one.

A teacher is an actress. As a teacher, I feel like I am constantly on stage. I am kind of performing in a way to the kids all day long. I use different voices, tons of facial expressions, and lots of hand motions. I am "keeping them entertained" and making sure they are focused towards me and always listening so that they can learn. Sometimes, I even wear "costumes" on special days like "pajama day" or "backwards day." It takes a lot of energy and enthusiasm to keep this going day after day, kind of like the same feeling when you are in a show and you have rehearsal after rehearsal and performance after performance. Also, when I am totally stressed out, have a million things on my mind, all my 23 kids testing my patience, and want to scream and run out the door, I have to put my actress hat on and keep my calm. I can never show on my face that I am unhappy or feeling overwhelmed. I put on a smiling face and continue on with the phonics lesson on long vowels, knowing that all will work out. Thus, a teacher is an actress.

A teacher is a singer. Any of the kids in my class would tell you that we learn by song. I think it is one of the most effective ways to teach children- teaching them through songs. That is how I learn best, so I make sure that I teach my students this way as well. We sing songs about lining up, songs about sitting on the carpet, songs about sitting quietly, songs about cleaning up, songs about birthdays, songs about colors, songs about days of the week, songs about months of the year, songs to welcome them to school and wish them well at the end of the day, songs about the holidays, songs about the seasons, and songs about anything and everything that we are focusing on for the week. I love singing! And even though I didn't end up being a professional singer in this life, I sing everyday with my students. Thus, a teacher is a singer.

A teacher is an artist. What teacher do you know that doesn't constantly draw things on the board for their students? I constantly have a dry erase marker in my hand ready to draw at any given moment to make what I am explaining to the kids more clear. For example, to demonstrate compound words, I first draw a dog, and then a house and then after they guess the word, I draw a dog house. In math when we are learning about 4+2=6, I draw out a story for them to understand with 4 dogs having a picnic, 2 dogs joining them and then asking how many dogs are having a picnic in all? We are constantly doing art in 1st grade with projects for each holiday. I am putting my creative juices together along with the help of Pinterest to come up with art projects for my students to enjoy. I am always working with markers, colored pencils, paints and glitter as I am teaching. Thus, a teacher is an artist.

A teacher is a mother. Even though I haven't had any kids of my own yet, I feel like I have 23 kids whom I love and care for as if they were my very own. I have seen them grow and change from the beginning of the year and blossom into the smart beautiful 1st graders that they are now. They have learned so much! They each have their own little talents and quirks about them, each with different and fun personalities. They love me and I love them and we spend so much time together. Not only do I teach them their ABC's and 1, 2, 3's, I also teach them motherly things like how to make friends, how to be kind and responsible, and how to be a well rounded human being. I am constantly giving them hugs and telling them how proud I am of them. I feel that motherly love towards each one of them and I can honestly say that I could adopt any of them and be happy. They are my kids. Thus, a teacher is a mother.

A teacher is a doctor.  I wanted to be an animal doctor when I was little, not a human doctor. Now, I don't have any animals in my class but I do have 23 little monkeys that need constant doctorly care. :) I have a cupboard full of band aids. Not a day goes by that I don't use at least one. Something about a band aid brings comfort to a little 6 year old even though it really doesn't do much. My students will come up crying to me and show me their boo boo, and it will be so small that you can only see it with a magnifying glass. But a band aid fixes everything and puts a smile back on their face. Also, there is a little boy in my class that has diabetes. I have been trained to test his blood twice a day and make sure he is at the right blood sugar level. I have learned so much about diabetes and feel confident to caring for his illness. This is something I had no clue about at the beginning of the year. Thus, a teacher is a doctor.

A teacher is a comedian. One of the reasons why I love my job so much is because my kids think I am super funny. Even when I say really stupid jokes that most adults would role their eyes at and label corny, the kids find it hilarious. When a dry erase marker is going out and starts to squeak when I use it, I will say, "Oh how nice. The marker is singing to us! Isn't that sweet?" Or I make up stupid things that will help them learn that are funny...Like, for example, if a word doesn't follow the typical English rules, like the word "want." The a in want should say a, waaant, like a for apple, but it doesn't. It wants to be an o. I will talk about this and then say, "I think want needs to go to the Principal's office, he is not following the rules." Or, I might talk about a letter being in a word just because she thinks she looks cute. Like the i in friend. The i doesn't say anything but is just there to look cute. I often refer to "qu" as a couple in love because they are always together. I tell them that you won't see a q without u right by it's side. They think all of these things are hilarious but it really helps them to remember and learn. Thus, a teacher is a comedian.

A teacher is a cheerleader. I was a cheerleader for a year in high school and I loved it. I loved the energy and the dancing and all the fun stunts that we learned. I loved cheering our teams on during games. This is how teaching is. I am constantly cheering on my students and giving them the confidence that they need to move forward. There is one little boy in my class that is always saying the "c word." It is a bad word in my class. If you are wondering what this horrible word is, it is, "can't." They aren't allowed to say it. I tell them when they say it, they are lying to their brains. I tell them they can do hard things and encourage them to move forward. I am their cheerleader. I give them positive praise when they try out new things that are challenging or when I can see that they are really thinking. I am cheering them on at all times and filling them with confidence. Thus, a teacher is a cheerleader.

A teacher is a dancer. You think teachers don't dance? Well, you were wrong! I am always showing them funny songs and raps from you tube that connect with what we are learning about. All 23 kids and myself dance to the beat of the song as we sing along. Or to get our energy out at the carpet, all of us will stand up and dance around the room for 30 seconds before we return to our seats. I also have done some Zumba sessions with my students in the gym which they love for P.E. We get our groove on! Thus, a teacher is a dancer.

A teacher is a photographer. I have a class blog, MrsHembree.com that I update on a weekly basis for the parents to read my newsletter and see pictures from class. I am always pulling out my camera on the kids and capturing any moment that I can. They have gotten used to it now and pose for me with a huge grin on their face. I love sharing these pictures with the parents for them to get a sneak peek into their child's school day. Thus, a teacher is photographer.

A teacher is a party planner. Sometimes I feel like I am constantly planning parties for these kids. Even for centers which isn't an official party, I have to think of 5 different 15 minute activities for the kids to participate in each day that have to do with what we are learning about. I feel like I have a theme and then I am taking off from there brainstorming whatever I can to make it fun and creative. Similar to what moms do for parties, except instead of Barbie or Toy Story themes, I am doing themes like nouns or capital letters. Also, we have lots of class parties for holidays and other things. At the beginning of the year we had a "Johny Apple Seed" party and did tons of different apple activities along with an apple taste test. Last week we had our 100th day of school party and this coming week we have our Valentine's party. Two weeks ago we had an ice cream party, rewarding the kids for their great behavior during the last couple months. Parties, parties, parties. Thus, a teacher is a party planner.

I realize more and more each day that I was made to be a teacher. I get to have all of my favorite things and interests combined into one job. I get to be an actress, a singer, an artist, a mother, a doctor, a comedian, a cheerleader, a dancer, a photographer, and a party planner all at the same time! I am a pretty lucky lady!

Of course there are hard times and struggles along the way along with long hours and sleepless nights, but it is definitely worth it. Plus, I get to inspire and change people's lives along the way. I get to mold these children and plant the foundational skills into them that help them develop into amazing successful human beings. And that is really what being a teacher is all about.