Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Arches National Park

First stop on our Spring Break travels was Arches National Park. Enjoy the pictures and the disclaimer that I was still pretty sick at this point:

Our Year-long National Park Pass... this saved us a lot of money and we're excited to get a lot of use out of it in the up-coming year.

Arches was a dangerous place... just read the warning.
Double Arch.
Lunch - Eddie McStiff's
We saw the Utah license plate in the parking lot... and we totally saw this Arch (Delicate Arch) earlier that day at Arches National Park.
Cool and/or funny sites along the road:
Navajo Twins
Straddling the Utah and Arizona state line - I'm in two places at once! :-D
Stay tuned for more postings and pictures from Spring Break travels as the week goes on.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010


In thinking about going back to work on Monday, I was in tears. Actually, I was fighting tears since Chris and I crossed the County line on the way back from our Spring Break travels- and I really don't know why.

Most Sunday nights I fight tears. This is weird for me because I do not hate my job. There are certainly hard parts to my job... but I have no logical or real reason why I'm in tears each Sunday night or when I hit the county line.

Then Chris and I watched the Discovery series Life this evening - and I was nearly in tears over the poor newborn elephant stuck in the mud and the young elephant mother who didn't know how to help. I was getting emotional over the poor school of Anchovies trapped in the shallow water while Sand Tiger Sharks ate them when Chris finally broke the news to me, "Brooke, sometimes animals die."

The next hour, we got sucked into the Undercover Boss - which was awesome, but you guessed it - water works for me throughout the show, especially at the end.

Well, once I start crying, it is hard to stop. The Undercover Boss emotion led to the uncertainty about the future emotion, which led to the sadness about tomorrow being Monday emotion and the mixed emotion about there are only 10 (or so) weeks left to school - a VERY exciting fact - and a very daunting fact at the same time. The results are all the same: Tears.

That led me to do some research -- why am I crying?

Wikipedia told me that there are several types of tears but that most scientists agree that humans are the only animals that exhibit emotional or psychic tears. These tears are called crying or weeping. The average man, wikipedia told me, cries about once a month and the average woman cries about five times a month. All bets are off, however, when a woman starts her menstrual cycle as she can then cry up to five times as much as she normally would -- no explicable reason necessary.

Emotional tears are not only an expression of pain or sadness but also of joy or happiness. For this reason, a few researchers believe that tears are linked to a feeling of helplessness. This concept caught my attention.

Just now I glanced at the clock and knew that I should already be in bed... and I started to get choked up -- time is passing and I am helpless...

The researchers said that when something happy but unexpected happens, possibly the joyful tears are an expression because something has happened and the person cannot control the result - they are the recipient, therefore, helpless.

I cry when I'm anxious - I feel out of control.

I cry on Sunday nights because I am helpless - Monday is arriving and I have to go to work the next day. Most of the time my job is out of my control and almost completely consists of how I react to what happens around me - I feel helpless.

What most causes me to agree with the link between tears and helplessness, however, is the fact that I cry when I pray. I feel so helpless and lacking control when I am talking to God. I can't think of the last time I've prayed when I haven't been crying. It's a little embarrassing.

It reminds me of something my sister and I used to talk about - when many things are stressing you out but you don't cry until you trip on the sidewalk or lock your keys in your car or break a nail. Has that ever happened to you? Someone asks you why you're crying and you are crying because you just hit your head getting into the car? It didn't really hurt and that's not really why you're crying... but that was the straw that broke the camel's back and, sure enough, you're crying because you stubbed your toe. It has happened to me many times. Well, the helplessness theory makes sense. You're handling all the stress... and then you hit your head, or break a nail, or forget your purse - that small event compounds the fact your perceived helplessness and you start to cry. It's not about the pain or the fact you forgot your purse - it's feeling helpless (period). This makes a lot of sense to me.

I'm really liking this explanation that humans cry when they feel helpless. I may still feel helpless and I may still cope by crying, but at least now there is some rationale behind my dwindling supply of kleenax and moist pillow.

Thanks for listening.

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The preschool Rodeo was great. We had less people than last year, but the families who
came seemed to stay longer (180 plus staff is our estimate). Enjoy some pictures: The students are WANTED: For Being Too Cute These preschoolers (and teachers) are ready for their Dance and Pony Show.When the dance was over, it was craft, game and chuck-wagon dinner time.The evening ended with a real cowboy doing a lasso demonstration for us. He asked for preschool volunteers and he roped 'em up!Rachel and I are the two preschool directors who are crazy enough to combine our two preschools and all our families to put on the Rodeo. Here we're lapping up water and enjoying the fact we've pulled it off.What a great time! Yee-haw!
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Thursday, March 25, 2010


I don't really like announcements.

I just like people to know things... but I don't like to announce them. Partially because I don't know how long something will be true, how long the announcement will be accurate, and what is coming down the pike next.

I usually keep most people informed on a need-to-know basis. Sometimes that gets me in trouble and I have to tell friends like four things at once because I didn't share things one and two before... and then things three and four happened fast. It can be funny.

Well, given that I don't know what's coming down the pike next...

And given that I've been dating a fellow teacher in Eagle for over a month, I think I should keep the blog world in the loop.

Meet my boyfriend, Chris.

The above picture was taken for us on our Spring Break trip and camping excursion at Bryce Canyon. The below picture was taken in Surprise, Arizona at a Spring Training baseball game we saw between the Cubs and the Royals. I'll post more pictures of Rodeo and our travels soon.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring Break Countdown - 0:00!

Spring Break has ARRIVED!

5 work days
2 after-school meetings
3 graduate papers
1 graduate group assignment (that I forgot about until this afternoon)
1 Saint Patrick's Day dinner
1 Preschool RODEO
Getting incredibly sick

To do:
Get in the car and head to Utah... then Arizona
Feel better
See my Grandmother
See my old roommate from my semester in Rome

Oh, I'm exhausted, but finally breathing in the fact that Spring Break is here!

I was going to leave you with a few great pictures of Rodeo, but my camera is already in the car... must mean I'm close to leaving! :-D

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Rodeo = Success!!

Quick Friday morning post.

Rodeo was a complete success! I will post pictures soon. So much of the day was awesome -- with one little wrinkle -- I was sick as a dog. I didn't feel great all day, which was driving me crazy because I was so excited about Rodeo for so long.

My boyfriend brought me some cough medicine and chicken noodle soup and I tried to nibble a little in the minutes before parents arrived.

Rodeo was awesome!!! I don't know what our headcount was, but the event is always so much work -- two preschools, three dances, one dinner, 72 students (and by students, I mean 72 three-, four-, and five-year-olds), ten activities... amazing fun!

I was so sick. I felt nauseous all evening, all during clean-up,... and finally threw-up between my car and my front door. I can't remember when I have been as sick as I was last night. Vomiting, chills, fever, coughing, stuffed nose.

So... Spring Break. The objective now is to get well.

Four work days
Two after-school meetings
One grad paper turned in
Two drafts of grad papers - just have to proof read
One preschool rodeo
Gotten sick (again)

To do:
One work day - trying to keep my eyes open and head up at this director's meeting today
Two grad papers turned in

Spring Break countdown - with so much less enthusiasm than when I wrote earlier in the week:
Five hours, 43 minutes.

More randomness.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Word-Filled Wednesday: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

For more Word-Filled Wednesday, visit here.


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Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Spring Break countdown:
Tuesday, 12:10pm - 3 days, 3 hours, 20 minutes...

The check list:
-One after-school meeting
-One grad school assignment
- One after-school meeting
- Two grad school assignments
- One St. Patrick's Day celebration
- One Preschool Rodeo
- Laundry
- Pack for Spring Break

The Post:

So, I attend a conference last weekend and one of the sessions was about adult stress in early childhood education. In this session, I learned that stress and adrenalin were actually intended as a brief surge as a response to danger - fight, flight or freeze.

Example -
We are walking down the street and a wildebeest crosses our path and begins to charge. Your body creates adrenalin, your blood floods your muscles and prepares you for the fight, flight or freeze response. The entire physiological response is meant to last about 20 minutes. If you've ever been in a car accident, this might ring true from your memories. There is a big event and you don't remember the events very well -- your blood was flowing to your muscles and your brain wasn't registering many details... you responded to the situation... and over time you calmed down. Your body regained a state of equilibrium. The adrenalin surge looks much like a steep bell curve up to a peak and then a gradual slope back down to equilibrium.

In our present-day society, we don't meet many situations that are actually life-threatening and dangerous. As a result, our bodies have begun to produce adrenalin and become stressed for events that are not actually life threatening and are re-occurring in our life.

Example -
As a teacher, I become if the students in my class are fighting in the morning (knock-down, drag-out fighting). This is a stressful situation and must be handled. If, in my classroom, this becomes the routine - my students fight every morning (first of all, I have some serious classroom management issues) but I start anticipating this stress before it actually occurs. I anticipate that every single morning, I am going to be stressed because my students are or will be fighting. When my body is producing consistent adrenalin for this daily stresser, my body never actually regains equilibrium of an unstressed-state. The experience is more of a wavy line above the resting point of healthy, unstressed equilibrium. Now, my students fighting in the classroom is not life or death (at least, not for me the teacher...). The experience is not a present danger like meeting a tiger or a wildebeest.

These lessons made a lot of sense to me. I don't want adrenalin pumping through my body on a daily basis when none of the stressers I meet are actually threatening danger.

I am trying to manage my stress by the realization that my paperwork, grad school deadlines, lack of sleep, a preschool rodeo, even antagonizing colleagues are not causing me immediate danger. They do not warrant the same adrenalin as a wildebeest.

Spring Break countdown:
Tuesday 12:38pm: 3 days, 2 hours, 52 minutes.

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Monday, March 15, 2010


I am very excited today! I am excited it is Monday. I am excited to be at work on this Monday. I am all-around excited!

Why, you ask, am I so excited for everything today?

I am excited because this is the Monday before the Preschool Rodeo and the Monday before Spring Break!

I am excited for this week. It will be BUSY! But it one of those weeks that hangs over my head until it arrives. FINALLY, I can fully focus on Rodeo. We've been talking about it since January... but this week, it gets my full attention.

This week is full of foam cowboy hats, western stamps on bandannas, stick horses and three cute preschool dances that will be in my head all week.

At the end of this week, I get to head off for Spring Break. That is one reason we chose the date we did for Rodeo - you give everything you've got this last week... and then can collapse with a week off!

What am I doing for Spring Break?

I am headed South for camping and friends. I have become very good friends/starting to be romantic with another teacher in my school district and we both have friends in Phoenix... so Phoenix, here we come!

The week will include camping in three different states, seeing my grandmother, possibly seeing my brother and seeing one of my best friends who was my roommate when I studied abroad in Rome. We haven't seen each other since December of 2004 and I cannot wait to catch up in person!

I also have three grad school assignments this week and two after-school meetings. All that means is this week is going to fly even more - which is great!

When I was in Denver for my conference last weekend, I went to REI and bought a few summer dresses and spring skirts in anticipation of the Spring Break trip and warmer weather in Arizona!

I wish I knew how to put a Spring Break count-down on my blog! Oh, well... it's 2:12 pm right now... 4 days, 1 hour, 18 minutes... 17 minutes...

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Tracey!

Happy Birthday, Tracey.

You would be 47 today. It's a little crazy to me knowing that you could be 47 (it sounds old to me... sorry, Trace) but the thing is - you would still be you. So it would be the most awesome 47. And you were never afraid of growing old... I think you would have appreciated the blessing of years and time especially given that you died so young.

Your 39th birthday was the last one we celebrated with you and it feels like forever ago. So much has happened and I miss you in my life.

You told us to:
"Remember me with joy and laughter for that is how I will remember you. If you remember me with tears and sorrow, then don't remember me at all."
Well, I'm glad to tell you that joy and laughter is mostly how I do remember you -- except March 12. March 12 is just about the only day my heart seems to admit that you, my big sister - my only sister, are missing from my life and acknowledge how much I miss you.

I moved to Colorado - just like you did when you finished school. I think of you every time I walk past the Vail popcorn wagon. And I tell anyone I'm with "That's where my sister worked when she moved out here. And that's where she met her husband. He came to buy popcorn and the rest is history."

I ski Vail all the time and I frequently visit your charm on Northwoods. It is still there. And by golly, I ALWAYS make a fool of myself in some way, shape, or form every time I visit that charm. Seriously Tracey, I've become a good skier - a great skier most days but when I ski back to visit your charm I ALWAYS do something silly and stupid. I get stuck in powder, or showered with snow, or fall in a tree well on my way out of the trees... I hope you enjoy the show because I'm pretty sure you have something to do with it. Maybe not something to do with it, but I always laugh and talk to you and ask you if you're enjoying the humor at my expense. :)

I sleep under the quilt Mrs. Minner made you every night. The fish are just as bright now as the day she gave it to you. I even brought it down to Denver with me tonight. I'm attending a conference today and tomorrow and I brought the quilt with me. Your birthday is certainly a night I want to sleep under that quilt.

I talked to a guy about buying a fish for my classroom a few weeks ago - - and it was such a reminder of you. I was looking for any reason not to buy a stupid fish and I just kept thinking of you -- you who loved any and every animal and could handle children in moderation. And I just kept laughing that I can love any and every child and can handle animals in moderation.

The last time we spoke, I was 18 - just graduated high school. Now I'm 26. I have a bachelor's degree, two master's degrees, a full-time job... I've studied in Rome, had different romantic relationships, traveled far and wide, and discovered the beauty of home. Don't be fooled. If we were to talk now, I'm still just as clueless as I was at 18.

I so wish I could talk to you, Tracey. I wish I could tell you about my crazy, dramatic, not-so-adult, grown-up life. I wear your two rings every day. FAITH and LOVE are on my finger because you put them there. They were yours... your reminder for yourself and the last night you were coherent, you asked me if I would want to have them. I have worn them every day ever since. Thank you.

Your life taught me so much and I'm thankful for that. But I really miss you.

Happy Birthday, Trace. I am thinking about you all day.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dreams and Spaghettios

Any country fans out there?

Remember the song by Martina McBride, This One's For the Girls. I don't know when this song premiered, but it was a favorite of mine my freshman year in college (2002-2003).

The song talks about "girls about 13 (when) high school can be so rough, can be so mean"; about "girls about 25 in little apartments just trying to get by"; and about "girls about 42 tossin' pennies into the fountain of youth".

Today - my third sick day at home... my last sick day at home as I am feeling better and trying to store enough energy to have a great day at work tomorrow - today I kept thinking of the line about the 25-year-old:

"This is for all those girls about 25 in little apartments just tryin' to get by livin' on, on dreams and spaghettios wonderin' where your life's gonna go..."

I'm not 25, I'm 26... and I used to imagine this season of my life when I would hear this song. I never imagined that the dreams would cease with each passing year.

Did I dream at 13? You bet. 16? Absolutely. 20? I think so. 22? Possibly. 25? A little. 26? No.

I'm a year into reality -- out of school and in the real world. I live with leases and taxes and the Census and taking care of myself when I am sick and making my own plans for the summer and keeping track of the oil changes and tire rotations for my car and the recession... and I live in reality. I don't dream.

My life is where I chose for it to go... where do I think its headed if not where I'm taking it? What good is dreaming if I'm not working toward what my dream is? And then, is it a dream or a goal?

Frankly, I think its sad... I don't want to be a 26-year-old who doesn't dream. To quote a line from a musical, "If you never have a dream, then you'll never have a dream come true."

But how do you make yourself dream? And how many years out do the dreams still count? I'm tired of living for dreams that are completely less-than-realistic... I've run out of hope that things might happen to end up my way -- I don't control the way things end up, so why do I think that because I dream something to happen a certain way, that it will?

My dreams have to do with the life I'm in... like maybe I will go to school tomorrow and everything will go the way its supposed to... Maybe I will get through the days from now until Spring break with everything organized... Maybe I will make a decision regarding my career path... haha - career path, that's a funny phrase for me to type - my dream is to not have a career let alone a career path... As I was typing this paragraph, I got a call from one of my teaching assistants... evidently someone exploded with profanities in the preschool today (not in front of children, but I will have to deal with this nonetheless)... I guess my "dream" that I might go to school tomorrow and everything will go the way its supposed to is less likely than ever.

So... maybe I can come up with another dream... another dream... another dream... ... I don't have another dream. I like spaghettios... but at 26, I don't have dreams. My teaching assistant who called just killed the only one there was.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Happiest

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me if I had ever made a list of the happiest moments in my life. I told him that no, I hadn't. He said that he had done so awhile ago and found it was a healthy exercise.

I then asked the question, "Do you mean the happiest moment when it happened? Or the happiest even with the hindsight of knowing what resulted?" He said the happiest moments when they happened.

His answer led to a philosophical discussion. In terms of my memories, I cannot separate past happiness from present reality. For example, the night my parents and I slept on the floor next to my sister's Hospice bed in our family room was not a "happy time" when it happened. In hindsight, it is one of my most treasured, and yes, happiest memories. On the contrary, a man proposed to my my Sr year of college and we became engaged -- I'm sure I was pretty happy at the time, but in hindsight, given that we never married and the subsequent weeks became a life-changing heartbreak, it is not a happy memory for me. I hardly remember it at all, but the parts I do remember do not evoke happiness.

If you were to list your happiest moments, in which camp would you place yourself?

I cannot separate the reality of the present from the fleeting emotions of the past. The present reigns.

If I were making a list - with the knowledge that hindsight plays a significant role in my list - off the top of my head, mine would be as follows:
  • Giving my dad the Book of Memories I compiled for him on his 75th birthday.
  • Receiving the FAITH and LOVE rings from my sister before she died.
  • The Auburn v. Vandy football game my last fall at Vanderbilt.
  • Working at The Anchor Center, Denver May 2008.
  • Hiking Cinque Terre with Kelley May 2007.
  • Basically any adventure with Kelley...
  • The 100th W&L Fancy Dress Ball.
  • Climbing Mount of the Holy Cross in August 2006.
  • The day of my harp recital my Sr year at Washington and Lee (2006).
That is my list for now. Sure, there have been times when I am so excited I can't sit still, but those aren't the enduring memories. Sometimes, in those events, the anticipation is much more exciting than the actual event ... which is why it doesn't become a lasting memory.

What are your happiest memories?

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Not Me Monday: Home Sick

I am home sick today. And I am an awesome patient when I am alone and home sick!

I do NOT have to convince myself to stay in bed all day fighting the arguments in my head that there is SOMETHING else I should be doing -- ANYTHING else I should be doing. I do NOT have trouble letting myself sleep when I would rather at least enjoy my day off -- I have NOT been known to put a fun movie on with the screwy logic that as long as I stay in bed, I am still resting... even though the movie is keeping me from sleeping.

Furthermore, I always eat properly when I am home sick. Today, for example, I did NOT eat Twizzlers as my first meal/snack of the day - just because it was within arms length. I always make myself soup and other nourishing food for my ailing body. Like right now, for example, I am not searching my brain for what is pre-made in my kitchen... pre-made and quickly accessible so I can come back to bed asap -- bed where I have Gilmore Girls playing.

Oh, and I sleep on a very tall loft -- 6' in the air lofted... so when I'm sick, I do NOT pull my mattress completely off my bed and onto the floor so that I don't have to climb up and down in my weakened state.

For more Not Me Monday confessions, visit here.

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