Sunday, November 17, 2013

Disney Cruise 2013

We took a bit of a surprise trip this past week. Conference Sunday this past month a deal popped up on Facebook and we grabbed it! We sailed on the Disney Magic out of Miami on a five-night cruise. We hit the ship Sunday morning, had a day at sea, Cozumel, another day at sea and finally a stop at Castaway Cay.
Day 1-We got accustomed to the ship, our very spacious rooms that were adjoining, and what was available for the kids. It did not disappoint for them! The ship's Oceaneer Clubs were great. They just refurbished one of them with a Toy Story room, an Avengers room, Pixie Hollow and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We couldn't keep the kids out! We spent that day in port swimming, going down their two water slides (the Aqua Dunk was great!) and exploring the ship.
Day 2-We woke up to very heavy rain, thinking that our day was going to be a wash! But it cleared up and we had a really fun day at sea. Lots of swimming and, again, exploring and playing in the Oceaneer Clubs. I read Ender's Game. A new favorite.
Day 3-Cozumel. We took a taxi to a resort called Paradise Beach. Great pool and beach area. Kam snorkeled for most of the time and we rode some canoes out into the lagoon. The kids enjoyed the pool more than the ocean--go figure. Back to the ship for pirate night, which I thought was pretty lame. They could have done a lot more with it. The wind started to pick up and did not let up the next day.
Day 4- Day at sea, but with lots of wind, so we couldn't really do much outside on the deck. The pools were closed and they ended up shutting down the water slides too. That night we started to really rock--20 foot swells! Lindsay got mucho sick and it was pretty scary there for a bit.
Day 5-Castaway Cay. I thought it would be better. The water was cold, so the kids didn't want to spend much time in the ocean. The snorkeling was no good--you had to swim out really far and Kam and I were too much of wusses to stay in the water for too long. So the kids really just wanted to get back on the boat.
Pros-The kids had the vacation of their lives! It has been their favorite thing so far, including Disneyland (my heart died just a little when they said that). The ship is made for them and they loved everything about it. The evening stage shows were unbelievable! True Disney talent and spectacle. Very clean ship and great attention to patrons. There was Disney music (great classic songs) playing at all times in the halls and elevators which added so much to things. Kam was able to go to the teen club (he turned 13 this past Monday) and we didn't see much of him. He loved his time there and stayed up well beyond us going to bed. The rooms were awesome with tons of space! They had Disney movies and Mickey cartoons playing nonstop. The water slides and pool area with the huge movie screen were a lot of fun. We spent a lot of time up on the top deck.
Cons-The food was a major letdown. I would give it a 2/10. I expected a lot more from Disney. We had language barriers with our server and he got our meals wrong most of the time. We wished the buffet were open more often to get food when you wanted. There were many times that food was not available. Our room was at the back of the ship and right below us was the engine room, so it was quite loud with creaks and slamming and various things. But we got guest services to deliver a couple fans that drowned out the sounds pretty well. Lindsay and I just realized that we are not cruise people. It gets claustrophobic and Lindsay has a hard time with motion sickness. I was expecting more of a feel that I get at Disneyland, but it just wasn't there for me.
All in all, it WAS a great trip, but I'm not sure if we will do one again. For that amount of money, Lindsay and I want to be able to enjoy the vacation as much as the kids do.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bullying and Labeling

Each October I am invited to speak at BYU for elementary school student council leaders. I look forward to this experience all year long. Elementary students from all over the state come to this conference to be instructed on leadership and teamwork. My presentation is on Positive Communication and the Dangers of Labeling. I share some personal stories, relate some points to The Incredibles, and make comparisons to Anne Frank, Stargirl and The Wizard of Oz. This conference lasts three days and I am able to share this presentation 12 different times (it can get exhausting, but is so rewarding).

One of my points is about the dangers in labeling students by what they look like or their interests (something I know I did when I was younger, but am happy to say I have learned from and changed). I share some quotes from Stargirl and show some pictures of kids that can be easily labeled (nerd, jock, emo, etc.) It's so easy to judge someone on how they look or their actions in class.

Fortunately there are kids with enough courage that they refuse to be labeled (like Stargirl--if you haven't read the book, READ IT!). Unfortunately, there are far too many kids who believe the labels; they believe what others say about them. That's why we have student council. That's why we choose these kids to help others and wave a flag to offer help and friendship.

The article below came up on KSL today. SO SO GREAT! I love this father and what he did for his girl. It brought tears to my eyes.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Thoughts on 9/11

Each year I take a few days and discuss 9/11 with my sixth grade students. I feel blessed to be able to do this because it reminds me of this event in history and stirs my heart. As awful as things were that day, it showed what the people of America (particularly New Yorkians) are capable of. Here are a few journal entries I made in September 2001:

9.11.01  Kam is ten months old today and today was one of the worst days in America’s history. This morning terrorists attacked America by flying two passenger jets into New York’s World Trade Center, one jet into the Pentagon and a failed attempt at what officials think was supposed to be the White House or Camp David. It ended up crashing just outside of Pittsburgh. An hour or so after the Trade Center was hit, both towers collapsed. They are saying that tens of thousands are likely to be killed in New York. I woke up this morning and turned on the news right after the first tower was hit. Everyone thought that it was just a freakish accident. I woke up Lindsay and as we were watching it the second tower was hit. We saw the plane come through the side of the screen and slam into the tower. When I got to work we gathered in Craig Knight’s room and couldn’t believe what we were seeing. It was hard to focus on work today. I talked to my students about what was happening and the seriousness of what this may mean. My emotions were on overload today and I am so saddened by the loss of lives. Since I began teaching my U.S. symbols unit this last year I’ve grown to love this country so much. The visuals I have seen on T.V. will be hard to forget. It will be interesting to see if these events pull us into war. We’ll wait and see over the next few days.

9.16.01  This has been a surreal week. The events that happened this last Thursday have been unfolding. They have only been able to find five survivors from the attack on the Trade Center. They are estimating that the death toll will be over 5,000. President Bush has said that America will find who did this and will strike back. The process will take the patience of the American people, but it will be resolved. My students are a little too young to understand all that’s going on and some of them think it’s just a “cool” thing that’s happened. The Nation has really pulled together on this and have mourned over what’s happened. Today in church Bishop Parker gave a great talk on how we can better understand the attacks. In Helaman, chapter 12, verses 1-3, Helaman is recounting the wars and what has happened to the people. He says that when the people prosper they forget the Lord their God. In verse 3 it says that the Lord visits His people with death and terror and with all manner of pestilence and except He does this they will not remember Him. Now this doesn’t mean that the Lord is responsible for these events, but President Hinckley said this week that the Lord could have stopped these things from happening, but you can see that His hand was involved. Today is a day when most people in America worship the God of sports and recreation. But today the Nation has gone to church. Today the Nation is remembering the Lord. All over the country the people are worshipping God and looking to Him for answers. Bishop went on to explain about all the innocent who lost their lives. Why did the Lord allow these people to suffer so that we could remember Him and look to Him? In Alma, chapter 14, Alma and Amulek are serving their mission and they witness a group of women and children being burned alive and Amulek wants to stop what is happening. Alma says that the Lord is allowing it to happen so that the blood of the innocent will stand as a witness against the guilty. Those who died this week are in Paradise. The innocent are in a better place and the Lord is taking care of them. The Lord is also taking care of those who caused this horrible tragedy, although I know His mercy is being extended in ways I don’t know. There are wonderful things that have come from this attack. The world is remembering God and looking to Him for peace. It definitely has caused a stirring in my heart.

9.20.01  Right now I’m watching a live broadcast of President Bush speaking to Congress and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I am amazed by him! He is a wonderful man and a great president. He wants the world to be free of terrorism. He wants the help of the world to support him in this crusade. His words tonight have been inspiring and poignant. My emotions are high and I have been close to tears many times during his speech. I want the world to have peace. I want to win this battle. May God grant us wisdom in this battle. And may He watch over the United States of America.

9.30.01  Today is the last day of the month and I think I’ve written in this month’s journal than any other month so far. It has been a wild 30 days. The attacks have caused a great feeling in this nation. There are American flags everywhere you go. Billboards show their spirit with words like “United we Stand,” “God Bless the USA,” and so forth. President Bush is still seeking Osama Bin Laden and any other terrorist group. He has set forth to rid ALL terrorist groups from the earth. Pakistan has refused to hand over Bin Laden. Too bad for them. I would not want to get in the way of the U.S. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Summer 2013-Part Three

Last round!

Hiking "Mohawk Mountain" at the Ranch.
Dad?! You took a photo of me without Brynn! Good job!
Riding horses at the barn.

I SPY the little bugger who bit me while I tried to put on my shoe.
One of my favorite places on earth. Fruita Schoolhouse with the three younger ones who will all be at my school this year.

Summer 2013-Part Two

Next round of photos, please. And, yes, I do realize that Brynn occupies a space in every one of these.

Our only Owlz game of the season.
Me kissing Zombie Girl.
Provo 4th of July Parade with Sophie.
Cousins forever!
Lindsay says we are depriving this girl of a fulfilled childhood because she does not have a pet of her own. I disagree. She has a Daddy who loves her very much. Isn't that enough?
Two princesses.
Two more princesses.

Summer 2013-Part One

We had a great summer this year: Lake Powell, a couple of Ranch trips, a very successful Aladdin production, use of our Pass of All Passes (not enough Owlz games as in past years) and lots of time spent with our kids. Here begins a collection of photos!

Waiting for Mom to get back from skiing.
Baby Jack and Brynn
Mom and Dad Rad, a.k.a. Grandma Tani and Grandpa Lee
Adam right after everyone in his boat was almost killed. Fun times.
The kids and River and Hogle Zoo.
Radebaugh Family Reunion

Adam and Kam "teasing" each other.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

10 Best John Williams Themes

John Williams has written some of the best musical themes of all time. I personally believe his name should be synonymous with Mozart, Vivaldi, Beethoven...his art, his music making is that genius! Williams' music is timeless. His scores of the 70s and 80s don't feel like music of that age. It's like he knew it would be listened to and loved by people today. Ranking his 10 best themes is a hard thing to do. I'm not judging the soundtrack as a whole, but the theme(s) he created for that movie. Here goes:

10)  Superman- I understand he came up with this theme in just a couple days because he was taking over for Jerry Goldsmith. Wow! "Main Title March" and "The Flying Sequence" are favorite themes.

9)  Schindler's List- How do you create music for something as haunting as Schindler's List? Get John Williams to write the theme. Using Itzhak Perlman for the violin solos was brilliant. It saddens you just listening to it.

8) Harry Potter- "Hedwig's Theme." Take some of the most beloved books ever and try and turn them into great films--almost impossible. Throw in John Williams' genius--done.

7) Jurassic Park- "Welcome to Jurassic Park." A line from the movie and the title of it's best theme. Love it.

6)  Hook- This is my all time favorite Williams' soundtrack as a whole. I love the Pan theme, Hook, theme, Lost Boy theme...all of them wonderful.

5) Jaws- You only really remember the "Main Title" theme from Jaws (as well you should), but the soundtrack as a whole is SO good. Every October I read a book called School Spirits to my students and play "The Indianapolis Theme" while I read the scary parts. It has them jumping out of their seats!

4) Home Alone- I know, I know...I'm going with Home Alone for number 4, but I could listen to this music around the clock. "Somewhere In My Memory" and "Star of Bethlehem" were inspired by Christmas angels.

3) Raiders of the Lost Ark/Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom/Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade--I guess I could have just written Raiders Trilogy. That might have been better.- I don't know if it would be easier or harder to write music over a series of films. You create an absolutely brilliant set of themes for the first film: "Indy's Theme," "Marion's Theme," "The Well of Souls." And then you have to create something similar, but altogether different for the following films. If you think Raiders would be hard, look at my number 2!

2) Stars Wars Saga- "Main Title," "Princess Leia's Theme," "End Title," "The Imperial March," "Yoda's Theme," "Luke and Leia," "End Title" again, "Duel of the Fates" (the single best thing about the new trilogy), "Across the Stars," "Battle of the Heroes," and now he has signed on to compose music for J.J. Abrams new Star Wars movie. The themes speak for themselves. Absolutely unreal!

1) E.T.- "Over the Moon." "Toys." The story goes that John Williams wrote the music for "Escape/Chase/Saying Goodbye" from reading the script only. It didn't fit the first cut of the film. Most composers will now go in and fix it. Instead Spielberg kept the music as is, and went back and cut the film to fit. I don't know if that's Hollywood legend or truth, but it's pretty freaking awesome! I love the themes in E.T.

Aladdin, Jr.

We just finished our summer 2013 run of Aladdin, Jr. It was a great success and so much fun working with these kids. Repeat customers tell us that the shows just keep getting better and better! I'm happy to know that we are always pushing things to a new level.

Tanner and Kassie. They found every opportunity they could to kiss in this show.
Timmy, Morgan and the guards.
Trying to direct these buggers.
Halle and Ardon. So funny.
Our lovely cast.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On a workout boost!

I have been going to the gym now every weekday for the past month. Each day I run on the treadmill--at first I was just running 20 minutes, not really looking for any kind of numbers. Just time. Then I started seeing that I was running 2.5 miles each day. I started clocking my times and noticed that I'm running an average of 8.5 minute miles. I'm now up to 3 miles each day. I never thought I would like running, but I have been loving this. I sweat enough to sink a small dingy and I feel really good about my workouts. After running I will work various muscles for another half hour. Thanks to Daft Punk and Rockstar for your assistance in all of this. I'm looking for a good pre-workout supplement. However, I tweaked a muscle in my back shoulder yesterday and I am in SO much friggin' pain. My range of motion is greatly limited at this time. I'm mostly upset because it's going to ruin this great boost I'm on right now. Here's hoping to keep with it!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My 100 Favorite Films-TOP 10

Alright, like it or hate it, these are the Top 10 of my 100 Favorite Films of all time. As I said when I started this list of 100, these are movies that I love to watch. Movies that I can watch over and over and ones that have had an impact on me for one reason or another. Therefore, it's not surprising that most of my Top 10 are movies that come from my childhood/teenage years.

This was fun to do! I hope you enjoyed reading this list as much as I enjoyed making it.

10)  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King-  My family comes over every Christmas break for three days in a row to watch this incredible trilogy. I have seen these movies so many times, but they do not get old for me. The musical themes, the visuals, the emotion and depth of characters is so amazing. Every couple of years I have to watch the Behind the Scenes discs (I watched them earlier this year with Max before his bedtime) to fully appreciate everything what went into these movies. I wish I were an actor in the Fellowship more than any other film. I want to be Frodo--but then they wouldn't be any good, because Elijah Wood was perfect.

9)  Swiss Family Robinson-  I'm a kid again! I wanted to live in the tree house and have a waterfall in my backyard. We show this movie to our sixth graders at the end of the school year (most of them have not seen it) and they think it is the coolest thing. It still holds up really well.

8)  Toy Story 2-  This is my favorite sequel of all time. It is perfection in writing. It's such a funny movie! Our kids will watch it on roadtrips and I ask them to take off their headphones and listen to it through the system so I can laugh. Sequels most always add new characters, with mixed results--Jessie, Bullseye, Stinky Pete, Al, Barbie...greatness. I love Toy Story 3, but this one remains my favorite.

7)  Jaws-  I think I was 11 or 12 when I first saw Jaws. I don't know what my parents were thinking! It, of course, scared the crap out of me (I even had a hard time in swimming pools), but I became obsessed with it. I read the book by Peter Benchley, I watched it daily when I would come home from school for probably a month. Today I view it differently. It is such a well made horror story--surprising with everything that went wrong with the making of it. If you have not seen this movie since it's Blu-ray transfer, you've got to see it. Beautiful.

6)  Mary Poppins-  My favorite Disney classic. I am excited for the movie Saving Mr. Banks coming out this year that tells the story about P.L. Travers and her story of this book going to a movie. I know that Walt considers this his masterpiece and it's hard not to agree with him. Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and the children are so wonderful, but to me it's David Tomlinson, who plays the father, who steals the show. He is brilliant.

5)  Some Like it Hot-  My mom started watching this one day when I was in 7th grade and I wandered into the room. She asked me to sit down and watch it with her. My life was forever changed! I started an obsession with Marilyn Monroe and had posters covering my walls. This is her best movie and one of the best movie's ever made. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon? So, so funny! "Well, nobody's perfect." And yet this movie, just about is.

4)  A Christmas Story-  "Not a finger!" I could write a whole essay about this movie. Love.

3)  Die Hard-  I was obsessed (that happened a lot during my teenage years) with Die Hard. I watched this movie so many times that I wrote down the entire script without using the movie as a reference. I counted the number of swear words. I could link any movie back to it in less than 7 steps (like 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, but cooler). It's considered by most to be the best action movie ever made. I knew it first.

2)  Field of Dreams-  This film combines two of my favorite things: baseball and my dad. The best soundtrack ever made. Kevin Costner (too many haters) gives a beautiful, simple performance. "Dad? You wanna have a catch?" Makes me cry every time.

1)  The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring-  There's so much I want to say about this movie. Howard Shore's brilliant score, the Fellowship and the perfection of their casting and acting, the production team and everything they created, Peter Jackson and his writing team, Peter Jackson and his directing. I will never tire of watching this movie. To me, it's the perfect film.