Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Take a Number

Unlike most of the Facebook fads, I have really enjoyed the current "number" trend in which people are required to list interesting things about themselves.  I've been reluctant to play on Facebook, but I'm willing to play here.

The trick is trying to come up with something I haven't already referenced in this blog.  It will be especially hard to avoid the 7 things I revealed in 2008!  If you read here, you probably know me pretty well!  But I will try.

1.  I just got released from teaching Gospel Doctrine in my ward.  And I got called to be the Young Women's Personal Progress leader.  I haven't blogged about it yet, because it is new and I'm nervous, and I'm not ready to dissect it yet.  :)

2. My earliest memory is when I was about 4 years old.  My family had recently moved to Utah from Ohio when my Uncle John died suddenly.  We flew to Ohio for the funeral (my first plane ride), and we brought along a bag full of my favorite books.  After the return flight home, I discovered we had left my books on the plane.  The disappointment of losing my books is the first memory I have.

3. I can count my entire lifetime of close female friends on two hands.  I can think of nine girls/women who would make that list, and I am grateful for the support they each have given me through various times in my life.

4. If I count my sisters, that number is 11.  My sister Lisa was my confidant regarding boys from a very early age.  I went boy crazy in 3rd grade, at which point Lisa and I would go outside each Friday night and shoot hoops while I told her about my problems.  She gave pretty sound advice - for a Kindergartener.  When I was in high school and in love for the first time, she was still the one I turned to.  But then it was over ice cream cones from Arctic Circle or pretzels at South Towne mall.  (I've posted enough love about Michelle lately, but if I'm being honest, she'd kind of my best friend.)

5. I think I'm starting to not hate pink.  Don't tell my anti-pink family.

6. My favorite shape is a square.  Straight lines.  Symmetry.  Happiness.

7. Once upon a time, I wanted to be a journalist.  I even went to Iowa on a Greyhound all by myself to get to a week-long summer journalism camp.  Actually, that would make a good full-length blog post.  (note to self)

8. When Kirk and I first got married, one of our favorite shows to watch together was Strange Days at Blake Holsey High.  What?  You've never heard of it?  That's because it was on Discovery Kids on Saturday mornings.  :)

9. I am from Ohio.  My dad is originally from West Virginia, but grew up in Ohio.  He met my mom (who is from Idaho) at Ricks College (in choir... just how I always thought I'd meet my husband).  They got married and moved to Ohio where my dad finished college (he went to Kent State where the shootings happened, but finished up at Akron University).  When I was almost 4, we moved to Utah.  Also related to this, I proudly consider myself to be trailer trash, because my parents owned and lived in a trailer when I was little.  I am proud of the fact that they did what they needed to do to put my dad's education first.

10. Apparently my love language is "quality time."  (I got a little caught up in internet quizzes this week.)  Don't buy me presents or say nice things to me.  Just put away your phone and let me be the center of attention.  That's all I need!

11. I love it when the clock shows repeated numbers.  My favorite times of day are 2:22, 4:44, and 11:11.  I don't know why those beat out 1:11, 3:33, 5:55, but my guess is that I must also have a thing for even numbers.  Even though 11 is odd, 11:11 features an even number of digits and is beautifully symmetrical.

12. I can only eat half a banana before the texture makes me gag.

13. I acquired an enhanced sense of smell during my pregnancies, and it never went away.  I am constantly whining about gross smells that no one else seems to notice.  I also seem to have an increasing gag reflex, and I find that I frequently have to look away from t.v. scenes so I don't gag.  Most recent was the dead fish on New Girl.  Ugh... just thinking about it makes me want to gag.

14. I hate Facebook on days when everyone cares about the same thing.  Elections, general conference, holidays, major sporting events, and abnormal weather make me want to take cover for a few days until it blows over.

15. I'm pretty sure I have an ulcer.  I get to find out on December 20th.  I'm pretty sure I'm more excited for that appointment than I am for Christmas.

16. I think it is amazing that of all the last names I could have married into, I became a musical instrument.  It makes me happy every time I think about it.  However, I get annoyed with spelling it F-as-in-Frank, I, F-as-in-Frank, E.  It's FIFE, people.  Not Fise.  Not Sise.  (And to my students, I am not actually Mrs. Five, btw.)  Also, it is not pronounced Fee-fee, or Fee-fay.  Oh, and though it is Andrea Fife out loud, it is always Andrea K. Fife in print.  I just love how it looks.

17. I have just entered what may be an extended period of using my self-appointed nickname: Anna.  Little kids can't say Andrea.  Go ahead - say it out loud and pay attention to the tricky middle where your lips have to make three or four different shapes consecutively to get the three-consonants-in-a-row to blend correctly.  Yeah, kids can't do that.  I'm teaching Princess Ty to call me Anna, and John and Ryder won't be far behind.  (Aside: For one year when Jack was learning to talk, my whole family called me Annie.  As soon as he could say Andrea, I killed the nickname.)  (Second Aside: In my senior yearbook, several friends addressed me as "Caz" or "Cazzie," one of the only legit nicknames I've ever had.  I liked it, but it was short lived.)  (Third Aside: Around the same period of time, a different group of friends called me Anj.  This is my favorite nickname of all time, and is still used by a select handful of people, all of whom now reside in Georgia.)  (Fourth Aside: In elementary, my nickname was Squeaker.  If you've ever heard me get tickled, you know why.)

18. It makes my day when I find out people read my blog.  I really do write it just because I like to write, but it makes me feel really happy to find out somebody else likes my style, or likes my stories, or likes my kids, or... well, likes me.

19. I wish I could go back to high school.  I think I could do it so much better now than I did it then.  I would love to be back in the classrooms, back in choir, back at the lunch table with my group of friends.  I could totally go for high school during the day, and wife and mother at night.

20. I talk all the time.  "Duh, I knew that..." you're thinking.  Well, you knew I talk a LOT out loud.  But imagine the few moments when I'm not making noise verbally.  My own voice is talking out loud in my head all the time.  Driving, showering, eating.  You name it.  There is a constant stream of dialogue in my head at all times.  Even right now.  I'm narrating this blog post as I write.  Think J.T. on Scrubs.  That's me.

Well, that's a lot more than I thought I would come up with, so I'm going to pretend my number was 20 and get back to work!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Watching Soccer

"Are you actually watching soccer?" Kirk asked me, just moments before Real Salt Lake scored their first goal in Sunday's game.

I could see where he'd gotten that impression.  I was facing the game.  My eyes were following the players.  And I had my trademark look of confusion that is generally indicative of my level of attentiveness.

So my answer was preceded with a knowing chuckle.  "Watching?  No.  Looking at?  Contemplating?  Yes.  Using the players as the jumping off point for my surmisings?  (not a word... oh well)  I was definitely doing that.  But watching soccer?  Of course not."

"I figured you weren't," he responded.  "But for a second there, it really looked like you were paying attention."  He paused expectantly, clearly wanting some insight regarding this anomaly.

I decided to fess up.

"Well, actually, I was watching the players.  I was trying to determine if their shorts are all the same length.  And if not, how did they end up that way?   Does each player get a say in the preferred length of his shorts?  And then that sent me on a tangent about the construction of the shorts.  Does Real just pick their shorts out of a catalogue, ordering the sizes and colors they want?  And then, maybe if one guy has a bit thicker waist, his shorts end up looking longer?  Or the guys with really muscley thighs end up with shorter looking shorts because their muscles take up more of the fabric?  Or does someone design the uniforms, and then the guys get measured, and the uniforms are made exactly for their size?  Because if that is the case, then all the shorts should either look exactly the same, or it would have to be intentional that they aren't the same length. Which lead me back to my original question.  Does each player get a say in the preferred length of his shorts?"

I finally paused for a breath.

Kirk laughed.  "I knew you weren't watching soccer."  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Prayer

I was part of something pretty cool this morning.

I arrived at work a little more on time than I've managed lately, as evidenced by the fact that when one of the 6th grade teachers entered my room to invite my team teacher outside, apparently as usual, I felt completely out of the loop.  However, the invitation was quickly extended to include me as well, and the group filled me in on the plan.

Apparently, each Monday, a few teachers in my building gather at the flagpole to join in a prayer to start the week.  Being, as I am, a pretty strong believer in the power of prayer, and feeling - as I generally do - as though I could benefit from any and all possible sources of additional energy, I eagerly joined the group.

Knowing this particular group of teacher was multi-denominational, I didn't know what to expect.  But coming from my Latter Day Saint background, I had anticipated the group all bowing heads to join in the words offered by one selected participant.  I thought it was great that the sixth grade teacher was joined in or small circle by her two children who attend the school.  I thought it was also great that she invited her 4th grade son to offer the prayer.  I folded my arms and bowed my head, the traditions to which I am accustomed, and listened to his words of gratitude.  I figured at the conclusion of his prayer, we would be done.

But as he finished, his sister took over, offering her own prayer.  Her prayer was followed by that of her mother's.  Then my son's 3rd grade teacher took a turn, praying in a slightly less formal but equally earnest manner.

I was a bit nervous, knowing it was my turn.  Would there be anything left to say that the other's hadn't said?  Would they find the formal way in which I address my Heavenly Father to be strange?  Thankfully, the Holy Ghost quickly reminded me that this wasn't a chance for me to show of my prayer skills.  Rather, it was a chance to follow the example of the faithful women who had gone before me, and to take a moment to talk to Heavenly Father before beginning this school week.  I didn't need to add to their prayers.  I didn't need to try to do anything.  I just needed to pray.

So I prayed.  And then my team teacher prayed.  And then we all walked back into the school, ready to face this holiday week.

And speaking of that upcoming holiday, today I am thankful for the opportunity to learn from the example of others, to live in a country where people are free to worship as they choose, and to know that through prayer, I can communicate directly with my Father in Heaven.

I am truly blessed.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dear Children

Dear Children of Mine,

Just because I teach at your school doesn't mean I know things.  Well, I mean, I know some things.  Like when your next music performanc is... because I am your music teacher.  I also know what homework several 5th graders are missing and what lesson I am teaching to my Intermediate Course 2 math students next Tuesday.  But - unless you tell me - I don't know your things. 

For the record, your teachers do not walk down the hall to give me a progress report every day.  And when I do see them in the lunchroom, we actually try really hard to talk about anything but you. 

Sure, I am supposed to know things.  All moms are supposed to know things.  That's why your teachers send home notes.  And they are important.  Because if you don't give them to me, I have no idea that you have a performance tomorrow and that you were supposed to have brought a toga.  By last Friday.  Ya know... hypothetically speaking.

Also, it really isn't easier for me to keep things straight because I work here.  Actually, it is harder!  Should I have known after school art was done last week?  Yes, I should have.  But I totally forgot since my after school theater and show choir classes continue into December.  So maybe a simple, "Hey, mom..." might be nice here and there.

Oh, and when I forget something, which I clearly will, that is the time when you should be able to benefit from having a mom just down the hall.  Come talk to me before arranging your own ride home from school (since you didn't need to stay for art...).  Or at least leave a note.  "Hey, mom.  I don't have art today.  I rode home with Aunt Michelle." 

Really, in general, just remember: I don't know things.  Not unless you tell me.  Sometimes not unless you remind me.  I want to help you with your toga.  Dad wants to be able to arrange his work day to make it to your performance.  And I would like to know where you are.  Always.

Please tell me things.


Friday, November 22, 2013


I'm not going to lie; working Fridays has been hard for me.  I know I live a charmed life in which I can sit back and whine, "Now that I'm working full time, I have to get out of bed before 6:00 a.m., and I even have to work five whole days during the week."  Yeah, I know... I'm a wuss, and so many of you have been doing that for years.  But I haven't.

I quit working full time when Adam was 6 months old.  I've always worked some during the 8.5 years since - teaching piano, working part time at a school, tending kids, bookkeeping for my dad... I have always had a job.  But I've had part time.  Or flexible.  Or 4-days a week.

And now I have contract hours.  On specific days.  And one of those days is FRIDAY.

If you're not a teacher, maybe you don't know what school is like on Friday.  In general, the kids are usually either wired or tired, which means it takes way more energy to teach the 5 hours of an early out day than any of the other full days.

And if you're not me, maybe you don't know what I'm like on Friday. In general, I'm either wired or tired, which means my natural personality is either egging on my precocious math group or I'm too tired to motivate my students to put 100% effort into their rough drafts.

Fridays are tough.  Period.

A glance at the calendar reveals this is only the 9th Friday we've had this school year.  Which means this being here on Friday thing is still pretty new to me.  In my past life (as a dedicated music teacher), I didn't teach on Fridays, because the kids don't attend specials on Friday.  Might I mention that I loved this.  But in agreeing to teach 5th grade (might I mention that I also love this), I also agreed to be here, focused, and effective 5 days a week.

And with some help, I'm doing it!

First of all, I don't waste precious Friday energy on deciding what to wear.  Teachers are allowed to wear the student uniform polo on Fridays as long as they are willing to wear the rest of the uniform with it.  There is exactly 1 teacher in the building who takes advantage of that policy.  Yours truly.  At first I was a bit self-conscious about it, but I quickly discovered that my students think it is cool that I dress like them.  I also found out that other teachers would wear the polo except they refuse to tuck in their shirts.  But I digress.  Although it doesn't seem like much, the comfort of the baggy polo frees up so much of my attention which I can then direct to squeezing out an extra 5 hours of awesome to get the job done the way it needs to be done.

But the thing that has helped me change my Friday song actually has nothing to do with school.

Once upon a time, when Kirk and I were young and poor and engaged to be married, we had a standing Thursday lunch date.  If I remember the details right, he didn't have class on Thursdays, so that meant he had time to make the drive from West Valley to Draper to come have lunch with me.

But as a poor, starving student, he couldn't actually afford to take me to lunch.  So we set the precedent of being together without needing to be fancy.  Every Thursday, he picked me up at my office and drove me to my parents' house where we spent an hour together and ate whatever we could find in the cupboards.  It was during one such lunch date that he proposed to me (over ramen noodles).

Fast forward nearly 13 years (and three kids) later, and we've finally found a way to reinstate the weekly lunch date!  Kirk works four 10's, so he has Fridays off.  He switched to this schedule to accommodate my full-time teaching schedule last spring, but we looked forward to the day we'd be able to enjoy our joint day off while two of our kids were in school.  But summer came, and along with it came a chance for Kirk to work some overtime.  He worked Fridays to bring home some extra for the family while I enjoyed my summer off with the kids.  Just as I geared up for EYT (with its five-day-a-week schedule), Kirk ended the overtime work and once again had his Fridays free.  But as I went straight into the school year, we realized the ideal we'd imagined was just not going to happen.  (In other words, there would be no September tee times.)

But I do get a lunch break, and I do teach just down the street from McDonalds, and Kirk does have to come to the school anyway to pick up Adam and Alex from school.  And since that is the order in which our stars have aligned, we've continued on in our non-fancy ways and decided that a standing 12:30 on Friday lunch date would be perfect.

So each Friday, Dylan and Kirk pick me up at the school.  Kirk and I enjoy much needed conversation while Dylan plays.  We eat from the dollar menu.  We spend about 30 minutes enjoying a bit of quiet or making financial decisions, or planning for our future.  We get a second to talk about the kids without the interruptions of the kids.  Then Kirk drives me through the pick-up line for school, and I get out while the kids get in.

And when my energy lags in the middle of math, or I just need a little extra oomph in my day, I remember that at 12:30, my husband and youngest son will be there to get me.  It's not to say my students aren't enough!  But when I'm having a hard time being enough for them, the promise of our weekly lunch date reminds me that I can do it.

When I wake up each Friday morning, don my NPA polo shirt, and consider all that is in store for me, I think, "Thank Goodness It's Friday!"

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Big Decision and a Little Note

The Big Decision:

I have decided not to return to EYT for the 2014 season.  The reasons are too many and to personal to list, but I have not made the decision quickly nor taken it lightly, and the choice is not an easy one for me.  However, there is so much good that can come from me spending more time with my family, and I can't wait to plan our Summer '14 adventures!

The Little Note:

I just want to take a moment to thank all of you who have made EYT a huge success in three short years!  It's crazy to reflect on how much has changed at both the Empress and in my own life in that time.

  • The first year, there were only 37 kids in all of EYT.  This last year we had 36 full day!
  • A lot of the first EYT kids were brand new to theater (or at least community theater).  Now almost everybody is a seasoned veteran.
  • We used to have four weeks of EYT (four days a week).  Now we do it only 14.5 crazy days!
  • The Empress increased its show season to include 10 shows each year.  I can't remember the exact previous number.
  • My little Dylan was still a baby and slept in a pack-n-play in the dressing rooms while we rehearsed.  This October, he turned 4!
  • None of my own kids were in all-day school.  Now I have a 3rd grader, a 1st grader, and one in preschool.
  • I worked about 15 hours per week teaching music.  Now I teach full time, 5th grade AND music!
  • I was an energetic 29.  Now I'm an old, tired 32.  :)
I've told many people before that I'm never sad when a show closes.  Having been in "the business" for as long as I have, I know there will always be another show.  And although it's hard to imagine it ever being as great as this show (whichever show this may be at the time), I have enough of a history to know that somehow, it is!  Sure, I miss the people.  But I also know that it all comes around.  In 2011, I did Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with my best friend from elementary school.  We'd done Joseph together almost 20 years before that, and never did a community show together again after that.  But 20 years later, there we were on stage together again.  I promise, it comes around.

So show closings don't get to me.  

But the end of an era... that's different.

And so it is, with a lot of reservations and what ifs and sadness, I'm announcing that for me, it is a new season.

A season of football and piano lessons and homework and reading.  Of spending the last three weeks of summer with my own kids (before gearing up to teach full time in the fall).  Of building, decorating, and settling into a new house.  Of doing a few things well instead of doing a lot of things frantically.  Of taking a summer vacation when my brother gets back from Bolivia.  Of spending time in Georgia with Lisa and her beautiful baby, John.  

I hope I can keep the door open.  In the mood for Shmimminim Shmamcakes?  Just Facebook me and head on over; we'll cook up a batch.  Excited about a new role at school?  I would love to hear about it!  Need help for an upcoming audition?  I am happy to do what I can.  

But in this new season, I will turn over the wonderful experience of EYT to the next energetic (crazy) person who will care about all of "my"kids as much as I have.  I don't know yet who that will be, but I know the Empress will put EYT in good hands.

My life is better for having worked with each of you.  I'll be taking the lessons you've taught me into whatever adventures are next.  And I'll never forget the resounding cry of "Who are we?  EYT!"

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Big Five

I went back to the gym last night for the first time since I started student teaching in March.  Skye, Michelle, Kirk and I just all renewed our WVCFFC memberships, and we dropped of our five cumulative kids in various locations in the building and got our workout on.

After the trip (fun was had by all), I skimmed a diet/fitness book that suggested that if I really want to see results, I should have 5 specific goals for the next 12 weeks.  Since my motivation for going to the gym isn't really all that specific, I thought maybe some goals would help me keep choosing to spend my free time torturing my glutes (which definitely are feeling it today).

The easy goals would be: lose x# of pounds in 12 weeks.  But that's not why I am there.  So here it goes.  The Big Five that I plan to accomplish by Valentine's Day:

  1. Learn to do a standing back flip.  Thanks to the missionaries, I learned how to do a back flip on the trampoline this summer.  But with Skye's awesome spotting skills and access to mats, I'm going to master the art of a back flip with no springy assistance.
  2. Run a mile under 8:00.  The fastest I've ever done it was back in 8th grade when I worked so hard to achieve Presidential Physical Fitness shortly after dropping a piano on my knee.  I ran it in 7:35.  When I was frequently attending the gym, I had gotten close to that 8 minute mark, and I really think that this time I can do it.
  3. Feel rested when I wake up each morning.  I know this one is hard to purposefully accomplish, but I know that regular exercise helps.  Also, by Valentines Day, I will be show-free.  So I should be able to manage good bedtimes as well.  And if I could wish for anything in the world, it may very well be to not feel so tired in the mornings.
  4. Wear longer pants.  I notice that although my clothes still fit when I gain a bit of weight/flab, my pants seem to be an inch or two shorter because my thighs are hogging more than their fair share of cloth.  I'm not buying new pants.  But in 12 weeks, I am going to notice that my pants seem a bit longer.
  5. Notice a shift in the leisure activities of my family.  Again, hard to purposefully accomplish.  But I'm hoping that 12 weeks of spending our free time at the gym will cause a shift from kids whose first choice is video games, whose second choice is TV, and whose third choice is the computer to kids who feel a little off if they haven't done something active.  We'll see.  They'll probably still pick the screen when they get a choice.  
So there it is.  The Big Five.  A list I can look back on with pride (or regret).  A better defined motivation to spend the hour between dinner and kids' bed playing racquetball with Adam, walking the track with Al and D, or doing weight training alongside my sister, husband, or brother-in-law.  A choice to fill the hours when I feel a bit anxious about not being at rehearsal.  

Mostly, I just really want to learn to do the back flip...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Guaranteed Headache Day

That probably sounds like a disrespectful moniker for Veteran's Day, but I promise I mean it with incredible respect.

As a teacher at Navigator Pointe Academy, I look forward each year to the school's Veteran's Assembly.  This assembly is such a big deal that there is a circulating joke at our charter school which, according to the guidelines of our charter, doesn't celebrate any holidays.  We don't do Halloween or Valentine's parties, and our only school observation of Christmas is a last-day-before-winter-break service project.  But boy, oh boy, do we do Veteran's Day.  We write letters.  We do art.  We sing.  And we hold a huge assembly to which we invite the veteran friends and family members of our students.

This year, we had about 50 veterans in attendance, and plenty of songs, speeches, and art to honor them the NPA way.  But I had decided to try something new this year, and I taught the same patriotic medley to the entire elementary school.  I practiced with them in their individual classes, giving the mezzo soprano parts to the 3rd grade, the alto to the fourth grade, and the melody to the younger students.  The 5th grade students learned both alto and soprano to lend their more mature voices to the song.  At their performances 2 weeks ago, I had the chance to rehearse with the 1st and 2nd grades together and with the 3rd through 5th grade classes, but until today, I had not yet heard the whole of my 250-voice choir sing together.

Keep in mind that by this point in the assembly, I had already choked back tears at the sincere words of 8 young speakers and the return thanks of one veteran special guest.  So when I saw a sea of my students and heard their confident voices (and beautiful harmonies), there was little I could do to maintain composure.

And fighting back tears is for me, a guaranteed headache.  I should learn to bring some medicine to school on Veterans Day.

There are so many reasons I'm proud to be an NPA teacher, but if there's one day that brings the all to the surface, it's this guaranteed headache day.

The assembly ended with 16 minutes left of the school day, not enough for me to personally thank each of the 10 classes that contributed to my condition, so I decided to write a letter.  I frantically typed, quickly copied, and rushed the delivery of this letter to each classroom 1st through 5th grade.  And then I thought I'd put it here so if ever I doubt where I am or why, I can look back to today.

Dear NPA Students – 
I think most of you have heard me say that it is hard for music to give me the chills, because I get to hear you sing beautifully all the time.  I have also made many of you a promise that if you ever gave me the chills, I would stop right there in the middle of the song and show you.  
Well, it didn’t seem like a good idea to stop in the middle of the assembly, so I decided to write a letter instead to tell you all how amazing your song was.  I didn’t just get the chills – I had to stop singing because I was starting to cry!  Hearing over 250 students singing so respectfully about our country was really something amazing.  That alone was special enough to make me cry.  But then to hear the fourth grade and Mrs. Francom’s class singing such a beautiful alto part, to hear the 3rd grade students sing their special note at the end, to hear the 1st graders confidently singing “America, America,” and to hear Ms. Laudie’s class and the 2nd grade carrying the melody, I just have to say what a proud music teacher I am today.
Thank you for using your talents today as a way to honor our veterans.  I hope your singing was as special and powerful to each of them as it was to me.

Mrs. Fife

Yes, guaranteed headache.  And so worth it.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Four Letter Word


Urban dictionary lists several definitions:
  • a four-letter word that often leads to deprivation, frustration and, ultimately, failure
  • a word used by large food corporations to deceive old/fat women and men into believing their product is actually remotely healthy
  • the thing your on today, then off of tomorrow
And my personal favorite:
  • a form of torture, hence "Die" with a "t" at the end

However, definition #1 listed in the more widely accepted Miriam-Webster version says:

  • the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats
Well, as the result of about a 7-week struggle to maintain my vocal health, I've had to do a ton of research and fundamentally change mine.

My quest to eat more of the foods that apparently are vocal-fold friendly (namely, high-water-content fruits and vegetables) has become a source of amusement for the other teachers who share my lunch break.  They watched my first attempt at peppers.  Deemed quickly by me to not be edible.

I got discouraged and survived on Fuji apples, carrots, and almonds for a few consecutive weeks.

And then my lunchbox was empty, and I'd forgotten to bring anything from home.  So I visited the produce section at Harmons.  Beautiful!  Expensive, yes, but arranged in ways that actually made me want to try some of these foods I was pretty certain I wouldn't actually like.

I settled on a few new items.  Sugar snap peas: because they had the word sugar in them.  Celery: because I was fairly certain I could drown it in peanut butter if necessary.  Cantaloupe: in case I absolutely couldn't eat the green stuff.  And little cheese wheels: because they were cute, and I saw a commercial about them recently, and... okay, it was a bit of an impulse buy.  

And guess what?  I ate every single item.  It lasted for an entire week, and I took careful mental notes as I went.  

I like the peas; I don't love the pod.  But if I eat them while I correct papers, I several disappear without me realizing I was even eating them.

I like the lighter colored celery better.  Because it tastes like nothing.  The darker green it gets, the more it tastes - well - green.  But I was right; a little peanut butter goes a long way, and like with the peas, I can eat a ton of celery while correcting.  Also, I feel really great about just how much water squishes out when I bite.  If I am supposed to be focusing on high water, celery makes me feel very successful.

Mmm... cantaloupe.  I was worried about it getting too mushy by Friday, but I could still just barely handle it.  This week, I'll eat my cantaloupe by Wednesday to be on the safe side.

And the cheese is perfect to eat when I just can't stand the thought of the last lingering taste being peas.  

Is it working?  I don't really know.  I have a feeling my voice won't be 100% until winter break when I'll have several consecutive days without teaching music.  But I feel pretty proud that at 32 years I'm making changes that hopefully will become a permanent healthy way of eating.  Instead of the veggie cheat I drank for nearly 3 years (12 oz of V8 Fusion for lunch each day), I'm eating the real thing.  Regardless of the effects on vocal health, it has to be a better thing overall.

This week, I'm going to learn to like actual mandarine oranges (not the syrupy kind in a can).  Next week, I think I'm going to attempt cucumbers.  We'll see how that goes.

Yes, it's a new four letter word.

But so far, not an awful one.

I Could Be a Braverman

It's been awhile since I've been able to hang out with my good friends, the Braverman's.  They have limited availability, and Kirk's kind of over them, which makes it all the more difficult.  Well, that and the fact that they are a fictional TV family...

But after a short three-episode marathon while editing 5th grade rough drafts on ways to show courage, the thought occurred to me.  I could be a Braverman.  Not just a random new character added to the cast.  No, in real life, had I made a different choice or two here or there, I really think I could have been any of the four mothers whose fictional lives the story follows.

If I hadn't met Kirk, I could easily have been Sarah.  Flighty.  Spontaneous.  Unable to stick to one passion for longer than a year or two.  And with a past full of painful relationships with artistic men.  The musician.  The English teacher.  The eccentric photographer.  (Kirk already knows my pick would be the English teacher, although the photographer is growing on me.)  But even with Kirk's grounding influence in my life, I still see a lot of Sarah Braverman in me.  She cries when frustrated.  She gets hurt much more easily than she gets angry, and she cares way too much about what other people think of her.

I think I most frequently relate to Kristina.  She gets a little crazy when she's passionate about something, including how people treat her children.  She's organized and methodical, and kind of like a freight train once she gets started.  She always thinks she's right, and she'll fight until she's proved it to everyone else.  Which means she's generally a ball of stress and fighting a battle with someone.  But the part of Kristina that intrigues me most is her career in politics.  She has such cool jobs!  She was recently offered a position as campaign manager for a mayoral candidate.  Which she turned down.  To run for mayor.  Could I be that Kristina?  I don't know.  But I can certainly admire how her education prepared her for whatever choices she might want to make in the future.

And then there's Julia.  Early on in the series, Julia was a bit of a work-a-holic whose husband Joel was Mr. Mom.  She was a great mom when she was home, but Joel handled a lot of the parenting.  Sound familiar?  Now, however, Julia is a stay-at-home mother who is struggling with the desire to also have a career.  Although she is a strong business woman, she never seems confident in personal decisions.  And her persistent fear that her career will get in the way of her family?  Well, that's something I have cried about, too.

I considered not including Jasmine.  I think she's mean.  And bossy.  And once, she and Crosby broke up because she got so crazy about how to load the dishwasher.  And then I realized it - sometimes I'm mean.  And bossy.  And lots of times I go crazy about stupid things like dishwashers.  The difference is that I married better, and so instead of escalating my crazy, Kirk knows how to bring it down.  I'm going to tell myself I'm not Jasmine (and hope it's true).  But I'm pretty sure that when I get woken up in the middle of the night, it's all Jasmine for a few minutes.  Just ask Kirk!

Interestingly, I always feel like I relate to the worst in each of these women.  Flighty like Sarah.  Controlling like Kristina.  Stretched thin like Julia.  Bossy like Jasmine.  But in the men of the Braverman family, I see all the traits I love about Kirk.  Realistic like Adam.  Compassionate like Joel.  Okay - maybe I don't see much of Crosby, but that's okay since I think he escalates Jasmine's crazy.

I could be a Braverman.  But with Kirk, I am something better.  I'm a Fife.

I need to get a new picture with Kirk and his blonde wife!

Hmm... I didn't expect this post to go all cheesy...