Saturday, December 22, 2007

Some serious baking...

Holidays in my family have always been drenched in tradition, especially Christmas. It all started as soon as Thanksgiving dinner was over. That's when the Christmas music in our house started and the festivities officially began. Some of our traditions have changed and evolved over the years, but one thing has stayed the same: the Hall home becomes a literal cookie making factory for the month of December.
Every Christmas I can remember has included baking a very large quanity of sandbakkels, a rich, buttery Scandinavian cookie that has been passed down the generations in our family. It's hand pressed (not cookie pressed!) into tart-like molds, baked and then popped out to be eaten and enjoyed.
As a kid I thought it was fun to be mom's helper, although in more recent years I've discovered that my cookie forming technique back in those days was horrible and my mom used to have to go back and redo my cookies. As a teenager I helped out, but constantly wondered when, if ever we would be done. Now as an adult, I love it. I call it our version of quilting. My sister, mom and I get together and instead of poking ourselves with needles we get an occasional burn from a cookie mold just out of the oven. And, of course, we love that it gives us a chance to just spend time together.
As the years have passed, our 'fan base' for these cookies has grown. Our friends start dropping hints in mid-November that they're excited to have a Hall delivery in the coming weeks. This year we started early. Thanks to a lot of freezer space and the dairy farmers for all of the butter we used, I'm excited to report that we produced about 1500 cookies. That's right -- one thousand five hundred. I know, you're wondering how in the world could you give that many away? But, once you start putting 12 or 24 on a plate they go FAST, I promise. And, don't worry, we didn't do it all in one day. We actually spaced it out over 4 different afternoons.
This year we had an extra special treat when Kristina's friend McCall joined us after their fun day together. It was so great to have someone else join in the fun. As a nine year-old McCall's dough-pressing skills far exceed what I was able to do at her age. We'll definitely enlist her next year if she's interested.
So, I hope your holiday preparations have been filled with tradition and fun as well. Christmas is right around the corner, and I feel like I've been bursting with Christmas cheer for a week. I'm just loving it all, even the crowded stores and parking lots, this year!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

One Year Later...

Today is our first anniversary. I can't believe it! Part of me is amazed at how quickly time has gone, and another part of me feels like we've been married for a lot longer than just a year. In fact at almost this exact time a year ago I was walking into the temple. The men at the desk looked at my recommend and said, "Boyce, huh? How did you manage to snag a Boyce?" Nate hates that story, but I love it, because it just shows what a great guy (and husband!) he is. Of course, I reminded those nice gentlemen that Nate was pretty lucky too.

I keep reflecting back on that day (hey, I only get a first anniversary once, so if I ramble, just be patient with me!) and remembering the feeling I had when we walked into the sealing room. I have never felt feelings of love just flooding a room like I did then. To our family and dear friends, I'll never be able to thank you enough just for being there. You are part of the most special memories I have of that day. Looking around that room just took my breath away, and I'm so grateful that we were able to share it with so many.
The past year has been awesome. People say that the first year can be so hard. I guess it can be, but we've really found that with patience, determination and love everything, even the really hard things, can and do strengthen our relationship. I'm grateful for the big things that marriage has brought us, like always having my best friend around and experiencing first hand the daily blessings of being sealed in the temple, but also for little things, like eating and making dinner together, walks on the bike trail and Nate watching an occasional episode of Oprah with me, even if he'd rather be watching The Office. Of course, I only pick ones I know he'll like! In fact we were watching it a few weeks ago when Jerry Seinfeld was on promoting Bee Movie. I loved his comments about his marriage and how it takes work to make it successful. He said, "People are lazy and I'm tired of it. Everything's work. There's nothing wrong with work." I agree. Work translates into love, and I feel so blessed that Nate and I both were taught to work hard in everything we do, including our marriage.
So, here's to a great first year. Maybe we'll thaw out the top of our cake that my mom has so graciously stored in her freezer for 365 days. I can't wait to see what adventures we'll find in year two! Nate, you're the best!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

*Nate took this cute picture and I just had to blog it on this most appropriate day!

Here's a little 'slice' of what I made for Halloween dinner:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fall Fun!

Last weekend we made the annual Hall Family pilgrimage up to Apple Hill. I think we've only missed it three times since my family moved to California twenty-six years ago, and that includes the BYU years. This time last year we were buried in wedding planning, and we just couldn't find the time. There's a lot of fun things up there for kids: hay bale mazes, pumpkin picking, face painting, pony rides, the usual festival type stuff. But since we're lacking a bit in the kid population we had to go for the next best thing -- the food.
This was Nate's first visit as a Hall (if I'm a Boyce now doesn't that make him a Hall too?), and he quickly found out how deeply rooted in tradition we are. Sure, pretty much all of those farms sell pie, but when you're a Hall you only get a slice from Able's Apple Acres. Apple cider donuts? Only at Rainbow Orchards. And caramel apples are only to be purchased at High Hill, which is always the last stop of the day. I think Nate was curious to see if I'd relive my indulgent childhood days and munch down on a half dozen donuts. Thankfully this time I exercised a bit more self control than I had back then. But they really are that good.

Being up there was, of course, the perfect opportunity to load up on apples. My students have even noticed that they're a staple in my every day eating. Is two a day excessive? Thanks though Nate for carrying my twenty-pound box. I may have to go up there for another box full before Thanksgiving.
It still amazes me how a hearty, healthy apple can be turned into such sugary goodness. We (that would be all of the Halls, not just Nate and me) had pies (buttermilk apple and apple crumb), apple fritters, apple strudel, apple donuts, caramel apples, and apple cider. It was a little like Forrest Gump and the thousands of shrimp possibilities.
Anyway, we had a great day seeing the beauty that fall brings with the colors changing, spending time with family and munching on all things apple. It feels like the holiday season has officially begun!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Are you ready for some football?

It's been too long since I've been to a football game! Last weekend we headed down to Bakersfield to visit Annie, Joey and our incredibly cute nieces AND to drive even further to Pasadena to watch BYU play UCLA at the Rose Bowl. The Cougars had a rough start, but made an amazing near comeback in the third quarter. Even though they ended their 11-game winning streak, we had a great time. I loved catching up with an old roommate and seeing how much her kids have grown. We even ran into Nate's cousin Brandon and his wife. We were reminded how small the BYU alumni world is, even though it's a school with 30,000 students. Each of us saw a handful of people whose names we didn't know, but who had very familiar faces. Was it the same ward, apartment complex or class that we shared? It was just funny seeing everybody else do exactly what we were doing -- looking around constantly (people-watching as my mom calls it) to see if there was someone from our Provo days that we knew. The whole thing just reminded me how great it is to be a Cougar. BYU is part of some of my greatest memories and to just experience a little part of that again was too much fun. In fact, in at least one way it was better than the original days as a Cougar because I was there finally with my husband!

one more thing: I got a miracle in the form of 18 third graders who magically enrolled at my school. Two days before the school year started I was again 'held back' in third grade because they needed another teacher (Did you know they call it a 'bonus year' now so that kids don't feel bad?). This group is a handful, but I'll take third grade handfuls any time!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Another trip to paradise

We're back from our first Boyce family vacation, at least it's my first one. What a great time! Maui was beautiful, relaxing and adventurous all wrapped together. I could have said it before the trip, but since I didn't I'll say it now: I love being a Boyce. In fact, I'm willing to bet that in some obscure dictionary I haven't found yet, 'Boyce' is defined as 'love and fun in abundance.' Besides my own family, there isn't another one I could love or laugh with more. We just have a great time together, whether it's Tyler barking out the window, Olivia singing songs from the Little Mermaid in the back of the van, or Shauna, Becky, Nate and me at Costco after arriving in Maui. That alone was an adventure!

We did have our challenges traveling as a group of twelve. Despite the delayed baggage coming home, Sammy throwing up on the road from Hana, and my twenty-something mosquito bites, it's probably one of the best vacations I've ever taken. We're already starting to think of next year's destination!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Worn Out!

Spencer W. Kimball once said, "I feel that my life is like my shoes—to be worn out in service to others." Isn't this a great picture? We went and watched the kids from the Children's Resource Center play soccer one day and these are the shoes one man was wearing. When I saw them I thought of this quote and how the only way to wear something out like these shoes are is to use it or wear it ALL the time. These shoes didn't get this way after just a game or two.
It's funny how life ten thousand miles or so from where we live seems so much different, and, yet the same. I don't really get caught up in the mundane, daily responsibilities in Zambia like I do here. No worries about laundry to be done or fixing dinner. Well, maybe that's because someone else takes care of both of those things for us while we're there! But truly, I find myself letting go of the not-so-important things and focusing on what is really important: people and what I can do, even in the smallest ways, to serve them. Whether it's the American volunteers, our Zambian staff or those darling kids in the village, I find it so easy to put first things first and focus on building relationships, even if it's only for a day. So that's my new commitment: wear myself out -- not with baking, or running or cleaning, but instead with service and having eyes to see ways I can help and give.

*Nate posted a bunch of great pictures from out trip. Check them out!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

London in a Nutshell - literally

Forty-four hours after leaving Zambia, we arrived home yesterday. It was a long journey, that's for sure. While it did lengthen an already long journey, we were excited to have an overnight layover in London. If all went well, we were hoping to at least see a few things, even though it was evening and most things would be closed. It doesn't matter what time you're out and about, Big Ben is always running, so we thought we'd catch that and a few surrounding sights. If we could make it to the London Eye we'd be able to catch all kinds of sights from a great view. If only things had gone well.
We got word about an hour before landing that there had been a security threat at Heathrow and our terminal was closed. Eventually we were able to land and then enjoyed some quality time sitting on the plane waiting in a long line of other airplanes who were ready to unload as well. After collecting our luggage in the mayhem they call terminal 4 we stored it at the airport and headed for the train. If only we knew how to get to the train and how to buy tickets. Putting pride aside, I'll tell you that we didn't know there was a different between the train and the Tube. We do now. After rather unintentionally buying tickets for the much more expensive Heathrow Connect we headed to Paddington Station, only about three hours behind schedule. By that time, our tired, already traveled nine hours selves just wanted a place to stay.
Leaving the station we saw the shining lights of the Hilton hotel. Who cares how much it cost, we just wanted a bed. Mastercard could take care of us. Guess what? No beds available. Turns out that there really were no rooms in essentially all of London because so many flights had been cancelled. No worries though, because there were tons of small hotels right nearby.
I don't think we even noticed the "No Vacancy" signs on the first 10 or 15 places that we tried. It truly was our own little Joseph and Mary experience because there was no room for us at the inn, hotel, motel, lodge or probably even hostel. Finally, after about 30 tries, we got the last room at the Hyde Park Radnor Hotel. It was 10:34 p.m. All of our grumbling about how much we hated London turned to everything seeming right in the world quite quickly. We found fish and chips at 11, had a McDonald's ice cream cone to top it off, and headed to bed.
But that's all we saw of London: Paddington Station, too many occupied hotels to count and one of the infamous double-decker buses. Big Ben and Trafalgar Square will have to wait for another visit. Truly, we don't really hate London.
As for us now, we're just grateful to be home. Zambia was a wonderful experience. We just can't stop talking about how blessed we are to have been there. After starting our day and being wide awake at 3 a.m., we're hoping for a normal wake up time tomorrow!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dr. Livingstone, we presume?

We've spent the last few days in the town of Livingstone, the home of Victoria Falls with a small MWB group. They just arrived in Zambia the day before we left to come here, and it's been fun getting to know a new group of people. Being here has been the 'vacation' portion of our trip and really has given us some true National Geographic experiences! On our first full day here we jumped the border from Zambia to Botswana and visited Chobe National Park for a full day game drive. The morning was spent on a boat and the afternoon was on land in a safari jeep. There were times, like when three elephants walked right behind our safari jeep that we seemed to be having our own Planet Earth experience. Whether it was the giant crocs, pods of hippos, or giraffes and zebras, we seemed to find something exciting around every corner. Definitely not a zoo-like experience. This was the real thing!I'm not sure if we enjoyed our time in Botswana or the day at Victoria Falls better. The falls are simply beyond description. I like to call it a total sensory experience: the sound of so much water, the drenching spray falling on you and the visual beauty of the water and rainbow it creates with the light. We have some pretty fancy photographers in our group and they needed almost a whole day there to capture the beauty. On a side note, Nate has loved a few of the free camera tips he's been able to glean from them. You can check out a few of his pictures at There will be more coming, for sure. This was my fourth visit to the Falls, but I never get tired of it. I decided to finally hike to the bottom of the falls (something I'd never done before for some reason), 687 yards to be exact, to the Boiling Pot. I did pretty well until the 'trail' got rocky and wet. I'll take one or the other, but I felt like my more clumsy side was coming out with the combination of the two. That aside, it was amazing to see what's at the bottom of all that falling water and the current it creates.
Today we fly back to Lusaka and work diligently to soak in every moment of the remaining days we have here. Whether it has been in a village, at a funeral or on a sunset riverboat cruise on the Zambezi, we have found ourselves counting our blessings for the time we've been able to spend here. The gifts we've received in the form of nature's beauty and invaluable life lessons are certainly to be with us for many years to come.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hello from Zambia!

We have been busy and our days have been full. On a truly sad note, last night a dear friend of mine here and many of us who travel to Zambia, died. Violet has been a friend for four years now, and I’ve come to know her well. She got my laundry cleaner than any washer could and she’s the hardest worker, man or woman, I’ve ever known. Her hands alone show what kind of a life she’s lived. It certainly hasn’t been easy. After having morning prayer with the Chikusu family at six o’clock, Nate and I went with Kathy to visit Violet at the hospital a few days ago. I could tell then that her death was not far off. She leaves behind a six year old son who will now be raised by relatives. This will be my second Zambian funeral in the few visits I’ve had. Death really is around every corner. It personalizes the way AIDS has affected people in a way that the media could never convey through television or print. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned from Violet about happiness in the face of true adversity, having a relationship with God and a mother’s love for a child. She will be far more than a memory for me.
Yesterday we had our first village experience of this trip. Nate and I absolutely loved it. It was great to be a part of the MWB team. They ran a ‘kids camp’ full of activities for the children of the village. We also had the team working with Zambian nurses who were running a medical clinic. I’m not sure there’s anything better than the smile of a Zambian child. Being there was such a great reminder for us both that happiness is not based on circumstances. These children have a light and spirit about them that truly is not based on the homes they live in or the things they don’t have. We didn’t need to bring them clothes or food because just our love and friendship and time was enough.
Sometimes I think we get the idea that the problems of AIDS and orphans and poverty is just too big for any of us to conquer, but our activities yesterday reminded us that it really is all about one child at a time. The problems we see really are too big for any of us to fix, but if we can do something for just one child or if we can lift just one person, we have done enough. And, really, we are the greatest beneficiaries of any work that we’re doing here. For all that we ‘gave’ yesterday in time and love, we came away from Meya village feeling incredibly lifted (and exhausted!).
Church today was, as always, a great experience. It was great to reconnect with the members here and see old friends. Thing are kind of up in the air about what the next few days will be like, because along with the entire team that’s here, we’ll be attending Violet’s funeral, whenever that is. Originally, after we left Mike and Pam’s house we were supposed to stay at the backpackers lodge, but Kathy is having us stay where she does at the Chikusu house. My family knows that I couldn’t be happier about that one! It’s a special experience to be here and live with a family, especially them. While they are now dealing with the funeral plans, it will be a bit different around their house, but we’re still loving it. Lunch today is at Mike and Pam’s. Pam is literally recreating CafĂ© Rio. We are just spoiled!
Later today we’ll visit the homes of some of the MWB staff and the cemetery. The cemetery is a powerful experience in itself. It truly puts a face on death here. I remember hearing at one point that they were burying about 500 people each day in this one cemetery. It keeps filling up, and they have to acquire more land. We are here, and I continue to return, because of the children that are left behind from those deaths. Even from the States, we can all do something.
We find ourselves being continually reminded of our blessings and that where much is given much is required. We are excited for this new week and the experiences ahead of us. We’ll try to keep you updated!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Muli Bwangi!

For those of you non-Nyanja speakers, that's "How are you?" We'd love to answer our own question there and tell you that things here are GREAT! The 36 hour travel wasn't too bad. This was the first time I've flown to Zambia through London, and I liked it. Our arrival came as a bit of a surprise to all, because through a confusion of itineraries, they were expecting us on Tuesday, not Monday.
I didn't worry too much when no one was there to pick us up at the airport, I just figured everyone who could was off doing MWB work. No big deal. We changed money, got a taxi and showed up at the Chikusu's home. You can imagine what a surprise we were to Kathy. Because there wasn't any room that night at the backpackers lodge we stayed at the Chikusu's. They are my Zambian family. I've lived with them each year I've been here, so it's just like being at home again. Tuesday was a pretty relaxing day, which was nice. Yesterday we moved from the Chikusu's to Mike and Pam Headlee's house because they're out of town with Kathy for a few days. We're having a lot of fun playing 'house' in Zambia. It's kind of like we REALLY live here! Nate has been working with Innocent, the country director for MWB, on accounting stuff and me, well, I'm just playing house like a good Zambian wife does. Yesterday while they worked in the morning, I baked cookies and surfed the net. I guess the latter of those two isn't so Zambian though. I stayed busy though, really I did! The recipe for my most successful chocolate chip cookie making in Zambia yet was a good one. Everyone loves the chocolate chips here.
Cooking ANYTHING here, even cookies, is such a long process. There's no garbage disposal, the trash is outside, no dishwasher and sometimes not even warm water to wash the dishes. Space is limited, but everything culinary is still possible, just not as easy. After Nate and Innocent finished working, we headed off with Innocent to go pick up three more kids that are being placed at the Children's Resource Center. Three more! That makes 24 people out there, I think. Funny how parents of just a few kids wonder if there's enough love to share.
There's always enough! We watched as Innocent and Josephine gathered clothes and bedding for the kids and then placed them with the other kids out at the CRC. Nate absolutely loved seeing the kids. And, of course, he got some great pictures. I can't believe how much the kids have grown in a year. Part of me pictures them at their age four years ago when I met them for the first time. They've grown so much. Evans, one of my dearest 'little' boys is now 17, all muscular and finally has a deep voice. I can't believe it. We caught up with the boys at their school playing soccer and one at a time during the game they all ran over and said, "Hi Auntie Dianna" and gave me a hug. I love being back here. Today Nate and Innocent are back at Quickbooks training and, well, I baked a pie. Before Pam left she told me three separate times, "Those pie shells are fresh, bake a pie." You have to know Pam Headlee to know that making pie crust is the least of her culinary accomplishments here. The other night she made us baked ziti, a delicious green salad (with pretty much everything in it from her garden here), steamed green beans, and peasant bread. Oh, and I can't forget the carrot cake and delicious fruit salad for dessert. At home I make a mess a lot of the time in the kitchen, especially with pie crust, so I figured that since she did the hardest part, I could fill it. Maybe I'll post that recipe too, if it turns out! This trip isn't like the ones in the past have been, but it's still wonderful. On our first night here we ate dinner with the big expedition team that's here, and Nate asked me if I missed being a team leader. I would go back to leading a team in a heartbeat, but I love what we're doing here. No, I will not be baking the whole time I'm here, I actually do have some 'serious' responsibilities, it's just that the first few days are slow. This different experience is just allowing me to take in being here, which I tend to miss out on a bit because I'm working so hard to make sure everything with the team is running as it should. For our families especially, we are healthy, happy and safe. Nate loves it here. He can't believe how happy the people are. I am grateful to have him here for so many reasons. I think one of the best ones is that there's something special about being able to be with someone who is seeing it all for the first time. It reminds me even more what a blessed experience this is. We feel blessed beyond measure to have this time and are reminded each day with what we see and do that we have much to be grateful for.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A new career?

Believe it or not, it's the moment they've been waiting for. My students finally got to meet Mr. Boyce today. If you think that Nate is no big deal, the kids in room 9 would definitely disagree (of course, I would too!). I used the excuse, "Mr. Boyce is an accountant, and it's the busy season," for about four months. But since then, they've been hard to please. I was able to go from that explanation to, "Mr. Boyce is studying for a really long (CPA) test," but they had a hard time understanding why in the world a grown-up would be taking tests still.
Without any prompting from me, a couple of my students recently wrote him letters. My favorite one said, "When are you going to come see the class and me? I have been looking every time the door opens to see if it is you, but it's not." Good job, start with guilt and work from there.
It's been funny how much my students have come to like Nate without meeting him. About mid way through the year I was teaching the cursive letter 'q' and a student asked, "Mrs. Boyce, how does Mr. Boyce write his q's?"
I have no idea how Mr. Boyce writes his q's. He's a printer, not a cursive writer. But I couldn't tell them that. I have them convinced that they have to know cursive to get to fourth grade and survive in the real world. Ever since then the question has come up with every cursive letter I've taught. I'd say, on average, someone in my class asks a question about Mr. Boyce at least five or six times a week during a lesson. If it's a story we're reading where the family is eating Mexican food, you can bet some little darling is going to ask if Mr. Boyce likes Mexican.
You can imagine how surprised the kids were when they walked in from lunch and there he was, the infamous Mr. Boyce with brownies just for them. Nate answered all of their questions, from things like, "What's your favorite month?" to "What kind of wild animal do you like?" And then, of course, he had to show them his cursive. That brought on all kinds of requests to write certain words. He writes 'Mississippi' really well, by the way. I'm pretty sure Nate's not jumping the accounting ship for the chaos of the elementary world, but it was great having him there. It was the highlight of our day and definitely a great memory for this last week of school.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Weekend Fun

Thanks to Andy and Marissa for finally getting married, because not only did we have a GREAT time celebrating with them, we had an awesome weekend in the bay area! It was really fun for Nate to be able to see many of his old San Jose friends and walk (or drive, I guess) down memory lane. It's hard not to be nostalgic about a place that has so many memories of good times and friendships. Nate's a great tour guide. He pointed out all kinds of places: where he used to live, his favorite restaurants and hangouts,and even swung by the headquarters for Yahoo!.

It was difficul
t just for Nate to decide where we should get lunch on Saturday because he had so many places to choose from! He picked a good one though, because we ended up at the Sonoma Chicken Coop. Nate's chicken carbonara and my quarter chicken with barbecue sauce were delicious. Simple food, but, oh so good! Just from that stop alone, I've realized that Sacramento really has some work to do when it comes to good eats!
Nate and I both agree that living in Utah during college spoiled us in at least one way: there's a pretty good milkshake to be found within a 5 minute drive from wherever you are. It's kind of like how I can drive past eight Starbuck's on my way to work, and it's only about a ten mile drive. Milkshakes can be found just about everywhere in Utah. It's just not the same here in Sacramento. As much as we've tried to settle for mediocrity, Dairy Queen blizzards and Wendy's frosties just don't cut it. Thanks to Nate's need to be reminiscent, on Friday night we hit the Palo Alto Creamery after a delicious dinner with Andy and Marissa's family and friends. What you can't see in this picture is the most amazing extra thick pralines and cream milkshake EVER! We also give two thumbs up to the banana cream pie. Wherever you live, it's worth the drive. We haven't made out last visit there yet, that's for sure!

On Sunday we headed up to Burlingame to go to church and spend time with one of Nate's BYU roommates, Russell, and his family. I feel like Russ and Betsy are infamous because of all the great, adventurous stories I've heard about them, and just their blog alone shows what a good time they are. Up until this weekend, my time spent with them was as long as it took for them to hug us and say hi at our wedding reception.

So, after church Russ made biggest sandwich I've ever seen, packed some snacks and we headed to an afternoon at the beach in Half Moon Bay. The weather AND company couldn't have been any better. We talked, laughed, played horseshoes and, I discovered I'm a miserable bocce ball player when it comes to having to throw that heavy ball farther than about ten feet. Thanks again Russ for taking my spot. I was totally dragging my team down!

All in all, it was a weekend full of memories, new and old, and fun. Nate and I just kept talking on the long drive home (an hour just from Half Moon Bay to Berkley!) how blessed we are to have so many friends that have entered and really affected our lives for the better. There are so many of them for each of us!

Stay tuned for more adventures. We leave for Africa in less than two weeks. Hopefully we'll really make this blog useful and be able to fill you in on our excitement and work there!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Movin' on up...

It’s hard to believe that I’m weeks away from completing my seventh year of teaching. SEVEN years! In all honesty, I was sure that I’d end up being a statistic and not make it past the five year mark. Surely I would have 'retired' by then. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the job, I had just created my own timeline about the marriage and family thing. Funny how the way things are turning out is WAY better than any timeline or plan I could have made for myself.
My first year of teaching was kindergarten at Provost Elementary in Provo. Man, I loved those kids. Who knew I would love singing songs and hanging out on the carpet so much? Exhausting, but so much fun. Then I came to California and have taught third grade for the past six years. It’s been the best experience. Third graders, especially the group I have this year, are the best.
There are so many great moments like when a girl in my class last week was paining an Indian mask and out of nowhere said, “I love this! I feel just like Bob Ross!” I’m pretty sure Bob Ross was more of a ‘happy cloud’ painter than a Native American mask kind of guy, but it just made me smile. Admittedly, I was a little disheartened that the other kids had no idea who she was talking about, but it was still one of those fun moments that come along when you spend your day with kids.
Last week I received word from my principal that I’ve been assigned to teach fifth grade next year. What a shock. This was definitely not a part of my timeline or personal blueprint. (Oh wait, I’m not really in charge, am I?) I have to admit it’s been frustrating coming to terms with going from 20 students to a class of 34 larger and smellier ones and dealing with every new piece of curriculum. There have been some definite struggles to find any kind of silver lining around this storm cloud. I really enjoyed being ‘held back’ in third grade every year. I was becoming an expert at teaching some of this stuff!

But, I think after a week, I’m coming to terms with it now. O.k., maybe that’s not entirely true, but I’m getting there. To go from kindergarten to third and now fifth must be a good sign. Maybe someday I’ll get to graduate from teaching and move on to another ‘school’ of learning! :-)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Food Cravings

We all have them, right? I'm NOT pregnant, but we all know that those who are tend to be notorious for theirs. For some reason pickles are always the one that's brought up. Incidentally, last week Nate had me try a Claussen pickle (which he and my sister agree are the ONLY ones to eat) and I actually liked it. Who knew at 28 I'd decide pickles were o.k.? Salty, but o.k.
Anyway, back to cravings and pregnancy, well sort of. Here's the news: Nate might be pregnant. Well, not really, but he's had a strange food craving or two lately. I could definitely write a blog about my weird food desires, but Nate's more fun to report about. A few weeks ago he and some coworkers were out of down and decided to eat cheap for dinner. You or I might head to Taco Bell or even Wendy's to get something off of the super value menu, but these guys headed to an All-American favorite: Denny's. Ask yourself, when's the last time I went to a Denny's? I bet it's been a while. I had to go way back, and I think it's been since some midnight outing with friends in high school. Maybe it's not so All-American though because one of the first things I saw when we arrived in Costa Rica was, you guessed it, a Denny's.
So yesterday after a long day of Saturday to-do's and Nate studying for his next CPA exam we decided to go out to dinner. Guess what my sweet husband has been wanting for a few days? A Mega French Toast Slam. As Denny's puts it: three thick slices of our Fabulous French Toast with two eggs, hashbrowns, two bacon strips and two sausage links all for $5.99. Its probably one of America's best bargains, but who craves that? After being so diligent all day, how could we not reward his studying efforts? You know what I discovered? On a Saturday night Denny's really isn't that bad. I learned they have healthy eating options (might I recommend the egg white vegetarian omelet?), there's no need to call ahead or make a reservation and the way you slide onto those vinyl seats at a booth takes you back to some point of eating out from your childhood. The service was great, the place was clean and we were out of there in less than thirty minutes.
Both of us agree that Denny's is strictly a breakfast only ordering place. We heard a guy behind us order tilapia and his wife got swiss steak. I'm not really sure Denny's is the place to get the catch of the day or a fine cut of beef, but breakfast is pretty satisfying. Who knows where our cravings will take us next?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Small Milestones

The other day I asked a friend how old her son was. She gave me a typical response, 19 months. I think marking age by months is something that kind of drops off by about age 2, right? I've never heard a mom say her kid was 37 months old or anything like that. I'm sure I'll me a month counter when I'm a mom too. Actually, I think I already am.
I'm finding that it's not all that different for this first year of marriage. As of today, we've been married for four months. Every time the 17th of every month rolls around, we take note and celebrate just a little. I'm pleased to report that after four months, we have a few pictures on our walls (finally!), we're surviving accounting's busy season just fine, and that whole 'wedded bliss' thing is pretty much true for us. I promise not to write a blog entry celebrating our 16th or 23rd month of marriage when it rolls around though.
These four months have been a good time. We've made some great memories already, established some of our own traditions, and it's exciting to see what's up ahead. One of our most favorite discoveries was during a stay in San Francisco a few weeks ago. Ghiardelli makes dark chocolate fudge sauce. Deeeelicious!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A good reminder

I promise not to turn the Boyce blog into Mrs. Boyce, the teacher's blog, but I had a great moment with my kids today. Actually, I think I have great moments more than I realize. I just forget them in my fog of tiredness by the end of the day.
We were beginning to read a new story together today, and I said that this story was one of my favorites. One of my kids said, "You always say that." It's true, I do, but I have my reasons: #1 Most of my kids are so enamored by their young, fun teacher that pretty much they like whatever I do. If it's my favorite story, heck, maybe they'll want to read it too. #2, I explained that I love illustrated stories so much because the pictures are so different from book to book and, the bottom line is that I'm just jealous and a bit bummed that I didn't get into the drawing and painting line when talents were being passed out before I came to Earth. I guess I didn't say it quite like that, but it was pretty close.
One of my sweet little girls, in her Armenian accent raised her hand and said, "But you have something they don't have. You have a great husband and a great class."
Where did that come from? Thanks to a simple comment by an eight year old, I was reminded that I really am blessed in more ways that I can begin to count, even though I'm a lousy artist. (Does good handwriting count as art?) I do have a great husband and this is the best class I've ever taught. They are a joy every day (well, almost!). I think I also was reminded that I talk about Mr. Boyce more than I realize! :-)

Monday, March 12, 2007

It's SO easy it's a piece of...

...brownies! Yes, that's what my third graders decided today. When I have to teach a really hard concept to them I try to convince them (Nate says I'm brainwashing, but whatever works!) any way I can that it's really not so bad. Today's lesson: teaching multi-digit multiplication. Whether or not third graders should actually be learning that is a subject for an entirely different entry. So as I was reviewing the steps for the gazillionth time I said, "See, it's a piece of cake." But, one of my brightest darlings piped up from the back of the room and said, "Mrs. Boyce, it's NOT a piece of cake, it's a piece of brownie. Brownies are WAY easier to make than cake and this is cinchy." (On a side note, I've taken to using the word 'cinchy' on occasion with my kids. Guess where I got that one accountant husband.) Anyway, before long our discussion turned from multiplying numbers to rating what we're learning on a dessert scale. Given my sweet-tooth tendencies and love for baking, we just kept talking.
Cookies were brought into the discussion, and although easy to eat, we came to the conclusion that they take the longest to make with the whole in the oven, out of the oven, new tray back in the oven routine. We kept it to three items, because throwing cupcakes and pies into the mix just made it too complicated. In the end, our math lesson ran way too long, but we covered what we needed to and had a pretty good time. Who doesn't love to talk about baking?
So, if you're ever trying to figure how just how difficult of a situation you're in, use the rating scale from room 9. From easiest to hardest: piece of brownie, cake and, the most difficult of all, cookies. Little do they know they're in for a monster of a cookie lesson in math on Thursday. Maybe I'll tell them it's a piece of cake instead.

Monday, January 29, 2007

a lesson about frogs

So I was going through our Costa Rica pictures and realized that my dating life has been a lot like these two frogs. Go ahead, try to name one attractive quality about this beast of a creature. Besides being slimy and having thighs the size of a polish sausage, it eats all the other frogs if it gets out of its cage; just wipes them all out. While my dating history before Nate didn't include anyone with unusually large thighs, there might have been a few that fell into that slightly (or not so slightly) slimy category.

But, look at that red-eyed tree frog. He's friendly, colorful and the kind of frog that everybody likes. If my mom actually liked animals, she'd love for me to bring this one home, I'm sure. Nate tried to get me to put this little guy in my pocket so we could take him home with us. (Which, by the way, was pretty much what I wanted to do with Nate after our first date three years ago.) But, fearing that he might get squashed somewhere along the way, I left him peacefully on a leaf. Sure am glad I married the red-eyed tree frog type.
By the way, visiting the Ranarium, as they call it in Costa Rica, was probably one of Nate's favorite experiences. I loved the butterflies, but he couldn't get enough of the frogs. We even went back to this place one evening for a special 'night frog' experience. Talk about big time adventure.

Paradise FOUND!

Wasn't it John Milton who wrote Paradise Lost? I think I was supposed to read it in AP English all those years ago. I didn't. In fact, if I'm being totally honest, I think the only book I actually read that year was something by Henrik Ibsen. Something about a guy named Torvald who always called his wife a squirrel. Thankfully, Nate uses other terms of endearment. But, that aside, I can tell you that paradise is not lost. We definitely found it in Costa Rica. After navigating for a few hours through the country we arrived at Tabacon, which I'm sure translates directly to 'paradise' from some tribal rain forest language. This place is amazing. Just google it, you'll see. It was like our perfect day just kept going. Here we were in the middle of the rain forest, during the rainy season, and it didn't really rain all that much. When we were inside, rain. When we wanted to go out, no rain. I was starting to think we might have superpowers or something. But, thanks to Russ, I've learned that those kinds of powers only exist in utero.
Thanking Nate for bringing me here turned into almost an hourly occurrence. It was a perfect balance between relaxing and being adventurous. Who can complain about having their own personal chef and waiter for an evening? Come to think about it, I should probably still be thanking Nate.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

...the best day

I've heard people say that your wedding isn't supposed to be the best day of your marriage because every day is supposed to get better after that. Nonsense. I do agree that every day is so good, but how many days in your life do you get to be the absolute center of everything? It will probably never happen for us again. A sweet family walked past us as we were taking pictures outside the temple and their little daughter said, "Look Mom, it's Cinderella!" I haven't really ever thought of myself as the Cinderella-type, at least not the one in the ball gown. It's not that I run around with little mice or anything. It's just that Nate and I are both just pretty casual and laid back. Not your typical Prince Charming and Cinderella, Brad and Angelina or any other attention getting folks. We are, however, still talking about how perfect that day was: the weather, the leaves on the trees, the food (oh, the food!) and so many friends and family to celebrate with. Actually, being Cinderella was great, even if it was only for the day. And after the most perfect day was over, we headed to Costa Rica. Maybe the days did get better and better...

getting started...

So it's been a pretty uneventful second month of marriage for the two of us. We survived the holidays, and Nate has been studying for the CPA exam ever since. Our spacious 790 square feet of living space doesn't have an office so Nate has set up shop in a corner of the living room. It works out o.k., and I'm getting used to being in the same room as him for the evening without saying a word while also suppressing the urge to watch American Idol. I guess I could spend more time in the bedroom or bathroom, but I'd just fall asleep on the bed and the couch seems more comfortable to relax on than the bathtub. So, now that I have completely exhausted the internet for dinner recipes and counted the number of diamonds on the linoleum in the kitchen, I decided it's time to get a blog going. Since we're a couple of months into marriage, I guess I'll start at the beginning. The wedding...