Monday, October 21, 2013

Goodbye, Black with a chance of Cheetah!

The day has come. This site has lived a good life, but it's time for bigger and better things.

Hello, Danakin Skywalker.

I will posting at this new site and will no longer be updating this blogspot.

Please hop over to to subscribe to the new feed and join me on this bona fide internet adventure!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I Read - The Glass Castle

I had heard from a few friends that The Glass Castle was the hot new book to read, and it made Bon's Summer Reading List, so once I finished my latest book binge (Gillian Flynn's other two books - Dark Places and Sharp Objects, then The Dinner which came recommended based on my love for Gone Girl) I decided to go for it. I put it on hold last week at the library, expecting to get it in a few weeks. To my excitement BAM it was ready for pickup on Monday!

I finished it yesterday, which is relatively fast for me, considering I wasn't able to read at all on Thursday or Friday. The book was just so fluid and paced, and the stories so short it was easy to say "Ok, one more... But really, just one more... Ok seriously this is my last one..." the same way I do with those short little 22 minute Office episodes on Netflix. I'm a chain watcher, a chain reader.

I don't know if it's that I'm getting old and soft, or that being a teacher puts me in a more responsible, adult role, but I found myself relating more to Jeannette's nurses, teachers, employers and any of the other small, SMALL handful of emotionally stable, mentally healthy adults in the book. Therefore I was incredibly angry and so protective throughout the entire book. And the teacher in me kept thinking - "Wow. These kids are brilliant. I hope I'd be able to see that as their teacher. I wonder if any of my kids have experiences like this."

The Beard kept telling me to stop reading this book, because I'd be sprawled on the couch next to him reading silently one minute, then jerking upright to exclaim "Noooooo!" "Groooooooooosssss ewewewew!" or "HOW FREAKING DARE YOU YOU ARE THE WORST HUMAN BEING ON PLANET EARTH!"

But I told him to zip it. Because I was sometimes chuckling aloud. I was sometimes tearing up at the camaraderie and loyalty of these bright children. I was cheering them on as they excelled in school or successfully fixed a problem like their rock catapult or homemade braces.

The thing that made me the most sad, though, wasn't their hunger, filthiness, injuries, embarrassment, abuse... although those did a mighty fine job of making me equal parts angry and depressed.

The saddest thing was watching Jeannette's changing view of her father. The early chapters of the book are full of Jeannette as her father's best friend and even partner-in-crime. She KNOWS without a doubt that he can do anything. He's gonna build that Glass Castle. He's gonna finish The Prospector. He's gonna quit drinking. Venus is hers.

As you get to know him, you realize more and more how worthless he is, and you hope she'll realize too. You find yourself siding with Lori when she says "Why do you always have to encourage him?!" Come on, Jeannette. See what a selfish, socially-delusional drunk your hero dad is. Stop trusting him. Stop putting your faith where it'll just be continually falling out of the backseat of the car onto some railroad tracks.

But then she does see it. And then you feel so bad. I think everyone goes through this with their parents and adults they trust. You grow up thinking these people are all the things they say they are and all the things they want to be. As you get older and, more importantly, wiser, you see them say or do things inconsistent with your view of them. You see them fail. You hear people criticize them. You watch them fill up the Glass Castle foundation with garbage.

I guess the reason this was so traumatic to me was because it really was all they had. All she had was her faith in her father. Brian and Lori lost that faith long before her, so she clung to it all the more desperately. She finally lets go, I think, when she calls his bluff and makes him give her the belt. Their relationship is never the same.

Once she really leaves Welch and her nomadic life behind, once she no longer feels she is under their irresponsible spell, it comes full circle where she loves and pities them again. She knows her dad was never the hero she thought, but she finally accepts him for who he is - her alcoholic, pool-hustling, loving, dream-supporting dad. And that's when I finally realized - "I judge people like Rex Walls all the time, but somewhere they've got a Jeannette that still sees the good that is definitely in them, regardless of their laziness or poor choices."

This book largely influenced my recent blog post about awareness regarding my students. So many people judged and even hurt the Walls family. So many teachers, adults, friends, neighbors, employers just went on with their lives, not knowing these kids were rooting sandwiches out of the trash, reading leagues above their grade level, dragging their mom out of bed in the mornings to make her go to work so the could eat.

Am I the teacher who puts those kids in Special Education classes and patronizes them for their parent's mistakes? Or am I the teacher who puts them in charge of the school newspaper and encourages them to aim higher?

Are you the neighbors who fight to have them evicted? Or are you the people who pay them to babysit and buy them bus tickets to New York?

This book left me with a humbling awareness of my lack of awareness. And a commitment to notice more, to help more, to encourage more. I want to believe there aren't Jeannette Walls out there, but you know what? There are. Maybe even at my own school. And I want to do whatever I can to help them become the adult Jeannette Walls of today, rather than perpetuating the Rex and Mary stereotype.

I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It's insane and infuriating and poignant and inspiring. It makes you believe in agency, in gumption, in hard work and, surprisingly, love.

If you've read it - let's talk! If you haven't, read it and THEN let's talk. Or we can just talk regardless. I just like to talk.

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Butt is on Instagram

Over the past several weeks I've had quite a few former students come to see me and I've been able to find out some interesting information. I have summarized this information as such:

  • The 9th grade boys who couldn't wait to get out of the "stupid" middle school and into the real world quickly realized how insignificant a high school boy can be
  • The 8th grade kids who complained all last year about how much reading and work I gave them all came back to tell me how easy my class was compared to 9th grade. Last laugh.
  • My gifted penis artist from last year is now incarcerated on a variety of offenses, but vandalism wasn't one of them, surprisingly
  • One of my girls stayed almost an hour after school telling me about how her and her best friend got in a huge fight about her friend starting to do drugs and now they don't talk.
  • One of our punk 9th graders from last year is counting down the days until he can drop out
  • A bunch of my boys from last year smoke copious amounts of pot. COPIOUS AMOUNTS. 
  • One of my girls from last year who really struggled came down to tell me she's getting an A in Geography this year so far and plans to get an A all year! Awesome!
  • One of the boys from last year used to take pictures of me during class, especially when I'd bend over. Allegedly there are photos on Instagram, although I can't confirm that.
  • One of my girls told me her parents went through an ugly divorce and now her dad yells at her every night about how much she costs to raise.
  • One shy girl, a girl very under-my-radar, at parent teacher conferences said "I brought my mom to meet you because you're my favorite teacher!" Blindsided me in a good and guilty way.

Sometimes I forget with all the extreme perfume/cologne, laziness and cartoon genitalia, that these kids actually do have tough lives. Middle school isn't easy, and neither is figuring out who you are on this crazy planet. Bullying is real. Drugs are dangerous. School is hard. Families can suck.

180 days seems like such a long time. But I already look back at my kids from last year and think "That went by so fast. I had almost no time with you." I'm in this weird position where I love these kids so much, but I only see them for 45 minutes and its 90% academic & behavior. BUT I care so much about their social and emotional well-being and futures. BUT I have no control over it and very little influence on it during the times I see them.

Seeing these old students and recognizing that A. The year flies by. and B. Their lives are so much more than just school, helps give me much needed perspective on what it means to be a teacher and what's really important.

Is the world gonna end if they don't know who Nathaniel Bacon is? No.

But it might if they feel like no one loves or respects them. If they feel like no one believes in them and wants them to succeed.

It's important to me that these kids feel love and respect every day. It's important that they know they can succeed. And it's important that they know finishing high school without doing drugs is walking through a door that will lead to happiness. 

It's also important to me that no more students snap pics of my backside, so I'm increasingly vigilant this year. Snapchatters beware. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

But He Kissed Me Anyway

I've written several times about the long, low-key, behind-the-scenes nature of my courtship with The Beard - most of it occurred after midnight, after our friends went home, in our cars talking until the sun came up.

Earlier this month I posted my October Bucket list, and that list includes watching a scary movie, NOT with the Beard, who HATES scary movies. It got me thinking about this story - the first night The Beard and I hung out one-on-one, the first night we kissed, and how I learned that he hates scary movies.

It was a snowy Friday in mid-December, and The Beard was working playing music at the Sky Lodge Bar in Park City. My parents were out of town, so I was staying at their house and chillin with Blade for the weekend. We'd been hanging out pretty consistently and texted about hanging out that weekend. I was pretty excited about hanging out with him one-on-one, even if he didn't get done playing the bar until midnight. So, of course, I was pleasantly surprised when he texted me for my parent's address.

Here comes the scandalous part: He showed up at my parent's house AFTER MIDNIGHT, we were unsupervised, and he didn't leave until about 5:30 am. Sorry Honor Code! You guys need to make sure no rival football teams get a hold of this information.

As usual I was taking advantage of my parent's 500 dish channels when The Beard arrived. We sat on the couch talking as I finished up the last of "The Others" (the first scary movie I ever saw in theaters as a tender young 14 year old). After that I found "The Strangers" which is pretty awesome if you're into serial killer/slasher/suspense flicks like I am. I didn't think anything of it, because I love scary movies, and we were talking over it anyway.

We were talking, laughing and telling stories and then the most miraculous thing happened - I looked down and we were holding hands FOR THE FIRST TIME. Turns out The Beard has some of the smoothest moves ever. It was so natural and normal I didn't even notice.

Finally around 5 am I started falling asleep to Poltergeist, and The Beard said he should probably go home. He kissed me for the first time and obvs it was pretty awesome. Awesome enough to block out the cheesy 80s screaming in the background. Romance at its finest.

It wasn't until a few months later when I suggested we watch Paranormal Activity that he said:

"You know, I really don't like scary movies."

"Yes you do! Remember that night at my parent's house? We watched scary movies all night! And then you kissed me! Remember? It was awesome!"

"No. I remember you making me wait through 3 scary movies so I could kiss you and go home."

Lolz. Thanks for waiting, Beard. I hope it was worth it.

In related news, if anyone wants to suggest or come watch scary movies with me - I won't make you stay till 5 am and kiss me.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Yet Another Baby Name Post


Still not pregnant. Still not trying. Still not close.

But like any other normal female, I've had a list of baby names I like since circa age 10.

And since The Beard and I rarely agree on stuff and fight about pretty much everything (like music, for instance), I thought it prudent to talk about baby names early so we can work up to a good list and fight less when we actually have to name a tiny human. That's extreme, you say?

"You act like you get any say! You're gonna be KO'ed on the table and I'm gonna be the one filling out the birth certificate! And even then, I'LL be the one blessing it in sacrament. I can just change it on the spot and those are the records of THE CHURCH!" - The Beard.

Sunday School is usually the time we work on our list of potential baby names that we like. See if you can guess who chose which names.

On "Stealing" Baby Names - the only people who can truly "steal" baby names that will affect you in the long run are your siblings.  So talk with them if you're worried and GET OVER IT.


  • Reepicheep
  • Jacoby (Obi Wan Jacoby, to be precise)
  • Jonah
  • Boromir
  • Dwight (80% kidding)
  • Walter 
  • Aslan
  • Porter
  • Apollo (already taken by our fake baby)
  • Ender
  • Samuel/Samwise


  • Leila (or Layla, according to The Beard. psh. no.)
  • Josie
  • Arwen
  • Lucy
  • Leia
  • Blair (headbands required)
  • Alice
  • Norah
  • Eowyn (He insisted I add this one even though I don't have the special 'E' character)
  • Amelia
  • Merry & Pippin
  • Fred & George
  • Luke & Leia (weird, though, because they kiss...)
  • Blair & Serena
  • Peter & Edmund
  • Stevie & Nick (get it??) 
 I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed by the number of LOTR, Star Wars and Narnia names on this list. No, I'm not. I'm pretty excited about it.

Although I don't know how we'll narrow it down or how I'll keep The Beard from naming our kids after Narnian animals.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Weekend Warrior

I am a planner. I'm a countdown-er. I'm a list completer. I'm a get-excited-about-everything-er.

So I've spent a couple weeks now gearing up and getting stoked for one of my two favorite weekends of the year - General Conference!!

Even with all my high expectations this weekend did not disappoint.

Friday (my day off for student led conferences) included sleeping until 10, hitting the gym and meeting The Beard for some Chipotle for lunch, then a long Target shopping trip. I bought this leather jacket and I pretty much want to sleep in it. Also some Essie "Sole Mate" burgundy polish that makes me feel like a chic vampire.

We went to a classy reception and then met the Holdaway clan for some Hibachi House - our favorite Asian joint in Lehi.

Saturday I made chili and scones, watched 4 hours of amazing conference, and then went shopping with my girls. This is one of my favorite parts of the weekend - dinner, treats, shopping, JT singalongs and girl talk while our guys are at Priesthood.

We slept over at my in-laws and woke up to Chad Holdaway's famous Eggs Benedict and enjoyed the first session of conference with Glen Coco and Lillie Bug (my niece) running laps around the living room. I stocked up on Diet Coke the night before since my in-laws are all healthy and junk.

We ended the afternoon session back at our apartment with a giant bowl of popcorn and lots of blankets.

So grateful for these weekends that breathe life back into me and renew my desire to be a better person. Can't wait to study President Uchtdorf, Elder Bednar and Elder Hollands talks in detail as soon as they are out.

To Look Forward To Next:
  • Fall Break Next Weeek
  • My Birthday Week after Next
  • Halloween Week after That!
October, I'm in love with you!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Who I Am Today

These have been floating around the interwebs and I love them. I think they provide such a cool snapshot of a moment in time. So this is me, right now:

Making: progress on my Masters program - 1 course down!

Cooking: copycat recipes of my favorite foods - Slab's Rosemary Potato Bacon Pizza, Beto's California Burrito and my mom's Chili & Scones

Drinking: too much Diet Coke, and surprisingly, chocolate milk

Changing: into Victoria's Secret PINK sweats the second I walk in the door after school

Reading: "The Dinner" by Herman Koch, and getting bored. Not as good as "Gone Girl"

Wanting: oversized plaid button-downs and black ankle booties

Looking: at houses and apartments online, even though our lease is through March

Playing: too much Candy Crush

Using: my space heater! We're reunited!!

Wasting: prime napping hours on Once Upon A Time

Sewing: hahahahahahahahahahaha. no.

Wishing: I knew the future - where we'll end up, that we'll be ok, that my kids won't be ugly

Enjoying: school. REALLY enjoying it. Man, I love these kids. They are smart and stupid and fun.

Waiting: For The Beard to "graduate" in December

Liking: Ed Sheeran

Wondering: Can I really be a good YW Counselor?

Loving: Once Upon A Time

Hoping: to get a St. George trip in to see Brooke play her fall games

Marveling: at the forgiving nature and tender mercies of our Heavenly Father. This talk, in particular.

Needing: time and motivation to thoroughly clean and update our apartment

Smelling: Apple Pie Scentsy cubes

Wearing: Heels daily. Student-led conferences = parents = Danica needs to look like an adult.

Following: Glen Coco's trail of toys to the bacon treats he leaves in our bed. 

Noticing: How grown up and spiritually mature my little brother sounds

Knowing: I'm the luckiest to have such amazing family, in-laws and friends.

Thinking: this junk food and not-working-out thing is catching up to me. Ew.

Feeling: content with my life.

Bookmarking: Halloween costumes and new music.

Opening: Pinterest & Diet Coke cans, 100x a day

Giggling: girlishly over Belle/Lacey and Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold. I need help.

Praying: for inspiration to come my way this weekend.

Who are you today?