Monday, December 15, 2008

A Short Story

I began a writing lesson last week by reading this short story I had written to my class.

Mrs. Collado began. “Class, I’m wondering if you have noticed some of my unusual behavior lately.”

Mackenzy raised his hand with the grace of a gentleman. “Yes Mackenzy?” Mrs. Collado motioned for him to speak.

“Yes, kind teacher. But first, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak. Mrs. Collado, we have noticed that you always seem to be eating lately. We are worried. Do you have enough food at your house? Can we do anything to help you?”

Mrs. Collado smiled. “What a thoughtful class I have.” She continued. “And, thank you. Mr. Collado and I do have enough to eat at home. But Mackenzy, you hit the nail right on the head. I have been eating more than usual lately. In fact, I can’t seem to make it through math or reading or even break without munching on something. The truth is, I haven’t felt like myself lately, and the whole truth is, I’m going to be having a baby.”

Needless to say, writing time was not so productive that day. My cute class was so excited. AND SO ARE WE!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Savoring Christmastime!

Santa Claus showed up at our Achter Christmas Party on Sunday. It was a sweet night put on by Jeff and Marie at their home. My dad had his entire family there except Paula and Melodee in California.

My darling Grandma Achter also took a turn on Santa's lap. This picture is priceless to me!

We are excited to spend the rest of the season with each other and with our families. We're going to savor every second! (Especially after Danilo takes his last final Thursday.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Trees and Extended Family

Last Saturday we ran up the mountain with my family and cut down our Christmas tree. It's been an Achter tradition that has become a Collado tradition as well! The tree has added a warmth and glow to our little townhome living room.

I wanted to mention a little bit about Thanksgiving a couple days before this, too. We ate at my parents' home with Danilo's parents and sisters and both sets of my grandparents. I felt so very blessed to sit at the dinner table with so many people that are important to me! Other events that made the holiday weekend special were pie night, a temple trip, shopping, and a family home evening all spent with extended family who live both in and out of town. Needless to say, going back to school was rough. I spent all day Sunday talking myself into it so that Monday morning wouldn't be such a dreadful shock. (As I read back over that, "dreadful shock" seems a little harsh. I do enjoy being a teacher. :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bring On Those Wonderful Holidays

A Saturday ago my family had tickets to Savior of the World at the Conference Center. The program was really beautifully done and even though it wasn't even quite Thanksgiving yet, I feel like it opened up the Christmas season. It brought the story of Jesus's birth and life on earth to life in a way I had never seen before and I am thankful because I have thought back on it many times since. Here we are with my family just before going to see the show. Our smiles are a little larger than usual because Danilo and I had just made a special announcement a few minutes earlier that I'm sure will be a post all of its own once Brittney has been to a doctor's appointment.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I Did Not Brainwash My Husband

We've had some pretty interesting discussions in our home the last several weeks. I'd decided with the presidential election coming up, I wanted to be an informed voter. I feel a responsibility as a teacher and a future mom and an American citizen to be educated on what's going on in my country and I feel very grateful for the rights and privileges and blessings that come from being an American. So as a result I have been reading the paper and articles on the internet and watched the debates and...brace yourself... converted to talk radio. Never thought I'd say those words. The way I see it now, my favorite country station only adds a new song here and there, otherwise, it's always the same stuff. So I still tune in once or twice a week, but talk radio is fresh everyday. A lot of the time it's intriguing and gives me something to toss around inside my head the rest of the day. And then the next time I see my parents I get excited to see if they were listening when I was and if they heard what that talk-host said, or the comment that that caller made. In the process, I have become seriously passionate about my choice. So when Danilo watched a debate or two with me and commented that he would vote for the other choice based on CHARISMA, I almost went through the ceiling. True, if charisma was the deciding factor, he had picked the correct candidate, bless my husband's heart. He's a recently sworn in American citizen (a handsome one, too), and I hope to teach him all about the country he belongs to! Though something has always just felt right about the reasoning my parents give for voting the way they do, I wanted to be able to stand on my own two feet about it. I have found it worth the price I've paid to become educated this year with more than just the candidate's face and mannersims. It has been a slow and steady process, but a couple of times a week I will come home with something I have heard or read that day that I want Danilo to chew on. I have done my best not to entirely brainwash him. It's been fun to talk politics and get him fired up about the issues. I think I have swayed him my direction! We're still working on the economy issue, but I think after a conversation with friends last night he's coming around. :) We'll see how it all goes tomorrow.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wohoo David!!

This afternoon while we were at Sunday dinner with my family, my sister Hailey reminded Chelsea and Andrew and me of our fifteen seconds of fame last May. We had followed that season of American Idol pretty seriously and the night of the final results, we drove down to the Energy Solutions Arena to watch it live from Los Angeles with a bunch of other David Archuleta fans. I'd never done anything like that before, and it was so fun. The excitement and energy in the air was so thick. We got to be the crowd of screaming fans when American Idol showed David's home state. David's grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins were a few rows up from us. A few celebrities and all kinds of media were there. We got to see the "crushing" results live an hour before the rest of Utah (I say "crushing" because I enjoy both of the Davids, which wasn't a popular opinion that night). We couldn't keep our mouths shut on the way home between our excitement and disappointment. After I dropped off my Hays and Chels and Andrew I rushed home to Danilo to catch the 9:00 news because Fox 13 had interviewed Andrew and me before the show had started and I wanted to see if we had gotten on. I walked in the door just in time to see not only Andrew and me interviewed, but several shots showing Hailey, Chelsea, Andrew, me, or different combinations of two or three of us. Of course we weren't the only ones on that spot for the news that night, we just couldn't believe how many times we showed up on the screen! More fun followed as the neighbors started knocking on the door and text messages and phone calls poured in on both mine and Danilo's phone. The fun continued the next day as every time I rounded a corner at school, a second grader or fourth grader or sixth grader or secretary would tell me, "I saw you on TV last night!" Everybody in the family had similar stories to tell when they got home. Jamie Gilland in Hailey's ward came across this video and told her today. Thanks to Hailey for holding up the TWO David Archuleta posters, I think that's why we made it into this VH1 clip (click the picture to follow the link)!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bendita La Luz

I just added this song to our playlist because I have always loved it. Latin music strikes a chord somewhere inside me that is so satisfying. It reminds me of wonderful things, like dancing with my Danilo. Since our first three dates involved latin dancing and I was pretty well head over heels by that point, you could say latin music had a hand in our falling in love. When I was first learning Spanish, my friend Marlene gave me some CDs to listen to. As I began to understand the words, I grew to have an appreciation for the beautiful way you can say things in Spanish. This song is no exception. The words touch me deeply because they echo feelings I have for my sweet husband. So as you log on to our blog and the raspy latino voice starts singing with an acoustic guitar, know that this is what he is saying, and see if it gives you goosebumps, too!

Blessed be the place, and the reason for being there
Blessed be the coincidence
Blessed be the clock that put us there at the same time
Blessed be your presence

Blessed be God for having our ways cross
And for removing me from the loneliness that had been my destiny.

Blessed be the light
Blessed be the light of your glance that reaches my soul.

(Bendito el lugar, y el motivo de estar ahí,
Bendita la coincidencia,

Bendito el reloj, que nos puso puntual ahí,
Bendita sea tu, presencia.

Bendito Dios por encontrarnos, en el camino,
Y de quitarme esta soledad, de mi destino.

Bendita la luz, bendita la luz de tu mirada,
Bendita la luz, bendita la luz de tu mirada,
Desde el alma.)

The main idea is, he is grateful for all the events that came together so that their paths would cross. A lot of the emotion gets lost in the translation. Just trust me that these are beautiful words!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Burdens Eased

This picture may end up in a brochure for the tutoring center where I work (photo by Joanna Taylor). This morning I was reading an article in October's Ensign called The Lord Can Ease Our Burdens by Elder Maury W. Schooff. He talked about being a husband and father while going through an intensive graduate program when he received a call to serve in the bishopric. He accepted the call with the promise from his stake president that he would be able to fulfill all of his responsibilities. The article goes on to talk about Alma and his people when the Lord promised them that he would ease the burdens on their shoulders even so much that they would not feel them while they were in bondage to the Lamanites. I am grateful that I'm not in bondage to any Lamanites, but I can say that the Lord is easing our burdens as a family this very year, day, and minute. We knew there would come a time when only I would be working to put Danilo through school. Sometimes when I pull in to the house it's amazing and a little overwhelming to think the work that little me does each day is what keeps us in a house with the electricity and gas and water on and food in the cupboards and cars running. Last year after teaching a full day of school, I would come home and collapse on the couch and nap with the news on. This year after teaching a full day of school, I go to the tutoring center or teach piano lessons for a couple of hours. I usually get home around 7 and sometimes 8. I don't feel stretched too thin, and it gives me peace of mind to know I can be bringing in a little extra. One of the blessings I recognize aside being able to get up each day and do it all again with out being extremely exhausted is that in order to get to my other appointments after school, I can't stay very long grading, preparing, etc. It has actually worked out for the good because the time I do have to plan after school gets used very well since I know I have less of it. Heavenly Father has truly blessed our family as we strive to make time for each other and live healthy and balanced lives.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Future Radiographer

The last few weeks have been particularly stressful for Danilo as he's begun his first semester of the radiology program. His assignments and exams have been extremely demanding. I have come to love him a little more as I watch him cope. Sometimes he'll tell me, "When I'm starting to wish all this schoolwork wasn't part of my life, I have to stop myself and remember how hard we worked and how grateful we were I got in." Anyone who knows us knows the application process was not easy! I've been watching him be smart in how he paces himself. Tonight he called to tell me he was feeling burnout coming on, so he was going to get out of the house for a few minutes to go to a pawn shop (among my husband's top five favorite things to do in his spare time). He's also very conscious of not allowing the demands of his schoolwork to come between us. If I'm home, he'll stop every couple of hours to either play a game or watch an episode of whatever's on the Discovery channel at that moment. He constantly reminds me that he wishes he could spend more time with me and makes sure I know he's doing this for the good of our family. I am one blessed girl. My sweet Danilo is precious to me!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Beautiful Things

Last night I had the sweet opportunity of attending the General Relief Society Broadcast with my Mom and sisters. While all of the talks were uplifting and inspiring, Elder Dieter Uchtdorf's message lifted my mind and my spirit in a beautiful way. He spoke about the most supreme form of happiness being God's happiness, and how our Father in Heaven experiences this happiness because he creates beautiful things. Our spirits were created and individually designed by our Heavenly Father and knowing and understanding that increases our sense of worth. It sunk in in a way it never had before when I heard him say that. We are the sacred creations of a Divine Being who is our Father. He went on to say that as God experiences happiness from creating beautiful things, so we as his daughters can experience joy from beautifying that which surrounds us. Our homes, our gardens, our communities, the memories we create as families, beautiful meals, beautiful music, beautifying and improving the quality of life of those around us, whatever it is we do best with the talents our Heavenly Father has blessed us with, create things of beauty. As we do these things, we will glorify our Heavenly Father and find joy in living. It's true. That message was soothing to my soul and I pray that I will follow that pattern for happiness.
Before I head for bed tonight, I also want to tell my Dad that I love him so much! He had invited Danilo and me to attend their sacrament meeting today where we found out with the rest of the family that he had been called as second counselor to the bishop. I wholeheartedly sustain him. My Dad is a rock in my life. He has consistently put his family first in all of his responsibilities. That example has made me feel loved by and important to him. It is an example that will have far-reaching effects in the lives of his children and I am grateful to be one of his daughters.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Approaches

The purpose of tonight's blog is to take a look at the progress I have made as a teacher. I am four weeks into my second year and though it's not easy, it is worlds different from last year. Monday morning this week, I was teaching a math lesson on ordering decimals. To make the lesson more concrete, I wanted to stretch a numberline (a piece of string) across the room and have the students hang decimal numbers on it so we could practice putting them in order. I realized the only place that would not be too high or too low for hanging it was an area that every student passed through on their way through the door in the morning. I have taught fifth grade long enough to know what a fifth-grader will do if they come in contact with a string. My string was going to be toast unless I devised a plan. I smiled as I KNEW what I would have done last year. As my kids came in the room I would have said, "Please don't touch the string. Please don't touch the string. Don't...don't...DON'T! I told you not to touch the string!" I would have felt betrayed by my students who would have touched the string when I went to all the effort of hanging it for them. But this was not last year. No, I am more seasoned, more practiced, better prepared. I have a prize box in my classroom full of things I picked up at the Target dollar aisle. Pretty darn good stuff. The kids earn tickets all day long on an individual basis, I constantly have them on hand and pass them out to encourage follwing my directions. We have a drawing at least once a day, and sometimes more, if they earn it. It only took me a moment to decide that if it kept my kids from touching the string, a trip to the prize box was worth it. Ten minutes before the first bell rang, I hung the sign (above) on the door. I assigned a student to stand by as the class entered to hand out tickets to non-offenders. They entered. There were no offenders. I had headed them off before the thought could even enter their minds. No one touched the string. And yes, I'm posting this entry two days later because I am still thrilled about it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I have a husband named Danilo

In case you haven't met my husband, I'd like to a minute to introduce you! For some reason, I really fell in love with Spanish while I was in college. I jumped into a beginner's Spanish class and advanced each semester until I had a minor. I met my sweet friend Marlene from Chile during this time. We had a lot of fun together and she knew as much English as I knew Spanish. I know spending time with her helped me a lot. When all was said and done, I was fairly fluent in Spanish and didn't really know why I'd done it!! I began attending a Spanish branch in the area to keep up the language and after several invitations, I finally began attending their young single adult activities. It was at a fireside where Danilo approached me and asked me where I'd learned Spanish. Had I served a mission? he asked. I was flattered and after a few phone conversations and a Saturday night latin dancing date, I was pretty well whooped. Danilo was born in Italy. His parents were Chilean and returned to Chile when he was eight months old. He lived there until he was 13 and then his family moved to Miami. He spent his jr. high and high school years there and moved to Salt Lake at 19. He worked and played and decided something was missing, and that's how he ended up on a mission to Orlando at age 26. I came into the picture five months after he got home and I've been grateful we bumped into each other ever since. He speaks fluent English with a darn cute accent.

Our Important Purchase

Every so often during the last two years I have been married, I have missed having a piano in my home. I started shopping KSL for something affordable and planned on probably buying a keyboard. However, I ended up discovering that I have a fetish for antique pianos. I fell in love with this one when I came across it online. Danilo offered the owner $300, she said $500. Danilo offered $400, she said $500. Danilo said $400. She said $500. Danilo said goodbye. I was sad. I continued to watch the piano for the next two weeks, and when it was still there, Danilo who loves his wife called again and said, $450, my wife really wants it, that's all we can do. She said okay. Long story short, the piano was very heavy. It took Danilo plus three former coworkers from Rent-A-Center and the owner's husband to get the piano up her stairs , on a truck, and into our home. The piano was made in 1917 and has a beautiful tone. Because the walls here in our townhome are thin, we hope our neighbors think it is beautiful, too! :)

Quick Summer Review

As a teacher just having finished her first year of teaching, summer had never meant so much to me as it did this year. As summers always do, this one filled up quickly. Danilo started everything off by getting nose surgery to clear his sinuses the first week I was home. WHAT A MISERABLE EXPERIENCE!! When all is said and done, we're glad he did it. I got to do those little jobs around the house that don't get done as easily when I'm working full-time (hanging curtains, steam-cleaning nooks and crannies). I had the opportunity to take a trip for history teachers sponsored by Larry H. Miller. We started in Casper, Wyoming and worked our way back on the pioneer trail learning about the settlement of the west. It was incredible, I am so grateful for the experience. Waterfights and rodeos and fireworks livened up July and we celebrated our 2nd anniversary in August. I got the chance to take Danilo on his first trip to Disneyland and California Adventures. He got the chance to take me on my first Tower of Terror ride.
Just a few pictures to get this blog rolling. Danilo introduced me to Rocky last year. He wanted to go see Rocky Balboa when it was in theaters, but I wanted to see the first five (because I never had) before we went. Over a period of about two month's time, we watched the whole series. Though we have extreme differences in movie taste (and my husband says he's glad he married me anyway), Rocky satisfied us both. I was charmed by Rocky and Adrian's love story, and Danilo was guaranteed several good fights each movie.

Hello Everyone!

After being inspired by the blogs of various friends, I decided to jump in. I'm excited by the thought of being able to keep out of state family and friends up-to-date and in touch with us. Most of the time it's going to be Brittney posting because Danilo hasn't been totally sold on the blogging idea yet. Hopefully as we get to hear from more of you he will start thinking it's pretty neat, too.