Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's Just a House

My parents are moving.

And it's bittersweet. It will be a good move for them and it's just time. But I can't help but feel a little sad because that was the house I grew up in. I moved to Layton when I was seven and that house has a lot of memories for me.

Sliding down the stairs with the cousins in sleeping bags to a sea of pillows at the bottom.

Making forts in the family room.

All those Christmas mornings sitting at the top of stairs impatiently waiting for dad to get the camera set up.

Christmas Eve bonfires.

Friends, family, and parties.

Tears and laughter.

Hours of practicing our "concerts" with the cousins and making the family watch.

Burning the carpet with my hair straightener. Oops.

Scrapbooking projects with mom.

Doing dad's hair with all my bows and clips.

Packing up my life and moving out.

And it also means I have to leave all my furry friends from my childhood who will stay behind under that tree in the backyard. Tweety, Allie, Shylee, and Molly this good-bye is for you. I will always have those memories to make me smile.

It's odd how a person can become so attached to a house. It's just a bunch of wood, nails and concrete covered with some paint and carpet. But over the years, it becomes so much more. It becomes a holding pen of sorts for all those memories. After living in one place for 11 years, you can look around and almost everything has some sort of memory attached.

But like I said, the move is bittersweet. I am also excited for this next chapter (and to have my own room again ;) ).

I just hope the new house will feel like home. It may just take time.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Every time.

History does repeat itself.

I've experienced it.

Even mistakes that we regret so badly are ones we make again.

Every time I get close to someone, stuff happens. Someone or something gets in the way.

Either I loose or they loose.

But I can't be selfish. I have to think of others.

So I loose.

Every time.

Will I ever get the chance to be truly happy?

Time keeps ticking.

I am running out of time.

Maybe I'm meant to live a different path.

Which is not the one I always imagined.

And it was all a lie.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Some Day

Being in college has it's disadvantages. And not being able to play the piano is one of the biggest ones.

Just look how gorgeous this one is!

And this one!

I swear, one day I will own one of these. Maybe I'll make it a condition of my engagement. That he has to buy me a grand piano. And I will have it in a room with lots of windows. Floor to ceiling windows. That way the sunlight can dance across the shiny surface. Maybe in a room like this.

Or this.

And my personal favorite. 
(Notice the amazing detail in the railing. And the stunning chandelier. A breathtaking entrance into any home.)

Yes. One day I will have a grand piano.

And of course I would just have to wear a big, elegant dress when I played.

I miss playing pieces by Jon Schmidt or various selections from musicals or the occasional pop song arrangement.

But I must force myself to be realistic. And to think like a college student on a college student's budget. So for now, I will have to be content with something like this.

And I promise I won't cringe too much when I play and I will make myself ignore the auto-tuned electric sound and try not to wish for the pure sounds that come from a real piano. I will just be grateful for the chance to make music (even if it does sound cheap).

I guess this is what 14 years of playing the piano will do to you. It makes you sit at home on a Friday night and lust after these gorgeously, stunning grand pianos.

And while I have you here, I want to share one of my favorite arrangements by Jon Schmidt with you. This is Love Story Meets Viva La Vida. It has got to be one of the greatest arrangements I have ever heard. Enjoy. And feel free to repeatedly press the repeat button... (I do).

Did you notice the Fazioli he plays? Did you? I think I'm in love.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Concept Brief: The Aggie Genome Project

UPDATE: Here is latest on our project to create a new framework for students to experience student services. My partner and I created this concept brief that details the problems and as well as a proposed solution. For the explanation of the project click here.

Challenge Summary
                There are many disconnects in place between Student Services at Utah State University and the Student Body. Students are confused about what a service actually has to offer, or have no idea that the service is even available. The student services are limited on what physical interaction they can provide. Websites are text-heavy and at times, difficult to understand, information is wide spread and hard to track down. This project aims to fix many of current issues and design a better and more engaging online experience for students. There is definitely room for improvement.
                Students want information that is easily accessible; they want help with their daily issues. They also want to be connected into a campus community. We hope to create a portal that will point students to exactly what they are searching for, through individualized design profiles and tacit delivery of information. Students deserve to have a positive experience when associating with the various organizations on campus. Currently, students seem to be having more negative or neutral experiences, rather than positive experiences regarding student services.
                Throughout this concept brief, we hope to explain the current issues involving student services and illustrate our suggestion to remedy the situation. This will be done through what might be called “The Aggie Genome Project”: a student driven initiative that will make the online experience a student personal and beneficial to the student.   It consists of various features that would help improve the experiences of students at USU while addressing the need of students. This project aims to provide a new experience that will be engaging and a tool that students will actually want to use. This project was designed specifically with students in mind.

Current State of Student Services
Students who feel connected to their school are more likely to stay in school and be successful. It is the aim of all student services to increase this connection. Students need help with things such as financial aid, math tutoring, resume editing, and advising, just to name a few. However, most students aren’t even aware of what is available. For example, in the research done last spring, it was determined that only 1 in 9 students even knew about the Career Services Office. If the student did know about Career Services, most often they had some misconception about what it had to offer. This seems to be true of all the services to different degrees. While all of the services would love to be able to serve more students; hours, staffing, and funding limit the capacity of the services for providing help to students.  When help “in person” is not available, students often turn to emails and the school website. Emails are often found to be problematic, as they may be misinterpreted, or viewed as impersonal. The website is also problematic for reasons that will be explained below.
Utah State University’s website is overly complex and cumbersome, to the point that  that students and sometimes even staff and faculty avoid it. To navigate many of the necessary portions of the website (Banner, Aggiemail, Touchnet, etc.) the student will need to enter their password info multiple times. Many of the pages are text-heavy and require time to dissect in order to find the information needed. Students are busy and need to find information quickly and efficiently, and if it can’t be found fast, they will go without.  Furthermore, each service has a personality or image that they are trying to portray to the students. Whether it be “open and inviting”, or “efficient and painless”, each service wants the students to know what kind of atmosphere they can expect when they come in to use the service. This is difficult or impossible for many services to portray thru their current web page. For example, the Access and Diversity Center wants to portray an image of being open, inviting, fun, and being “for everybody”. However, every service is bound to a formatted style of web design, which in the case of the ADC, does not allow them to create a website that is warm and friendly.
                 Many of the websites, for example the Financial Aid website, contain a lot of technical writing. Unless a student is a financial expert, they are unlikely to understand it. This may create the impression that the Financial Aid office itself will be confusing. While it is necessary for the site to contain all of that information (required by law in the case of the Financial Aid office), it intimidates and impedes students who are looking to use the site’s information.
Navigating the USU website can be difficult as some information is not clearly classified into appropriate categories. Especially problematic are the names of many of the services; names seem to frequently deceive the students as to what service is offering. For example, the Access and Diversity center has nothing to do with Access(Banner), yet one of the more frequent misconceptions they face is that their office handles Banner. 
The search engine on USU’s main page is inefficient. When the search engine is used, it can yield irrelevant and outdated results. It is seemingly consistent with returning an article from the 80’s, which just happens to contain the word you were searching for. Students are quickly discouraged and leave without finding the answers needed.
Another disconnection to mention is the intended usage of the sites. Many of the services noted that their information on the website was geared towards serving other entities, such as other Univesities looking for information, not towards the student. While this is necessary, it does not benefit the student.
                Physical location is also an issue when it comes to “in person” interaction. Most of the student offices are on the third floor of the TSC; an area most students avoid. In the student’s mind, that floor is seen as a place that “elite” students go. Lower classmen are typically afraid to venture up to the third floor. That is where the student government offices are located in addition to the majority of student services. The average student feels like they don’t belong there because they are not part of ASUSU or directly involved with any of the organizations located there.  This provides a point of disconnect between the student services and the student because the student does not feel comfortable going to those offices. While there is little that our current project will be able to do about physical location, we aim to make the virtual web location of these services much more appealing.

The Audience
                By taking advantage of all that USU has to offer, students will begin to make connections with the school while forming life-long skills. This is why it is imperative that the relationship between students and the school is enhanced.
                There are two very clear stakeholders in that will be affected by our proposed improvements. The first is the students. This is a student centered approach. Consider a market for goods and services, where the student is the consumer, while the school is the supplier. The student is looking for what value they can gain from the university, and the university is looking to see what value it can provide. The more value provided to the students, the higher the satisfaction rate will be. With this is mind, the student is the primary stakeholder looking to benefit from our project.
                This is not to say however that the needs of the Student Services are not important. Each Student Service has a business objectives that must be met, and each is looking for ways to more efficiently provide their service. The aim of our project is not to damage student services in any way, rather we want to find ways to benefit the student and the service simultaneously.

The Concept Strategy
We propose a new experience framework for student services be created in order to serve student needs more fully. The website needs to be geared more toward “this is how our service can help you”, and less toward “here is what we offer”. The way we would do this would be through what you might call a “small store model”. In a small specialty store, you will find merchandise on display in the showroom, well lit with all the information you might want to know when you are thinking about buying. Behind the showroom however, is a storage room with much more variety in colors and options.
Our design idea would follow this pattern. There would be a “showroom” of sorts, which shows you all the vital information you need about each service “for sale”. Each service has the opportunity to make itself known, and clear up common misconceptions. The student can then choose to look at what a service has to offer in greater detail, and if desired, search in the “backroom” through all the information that is available.
There are several benefits of this system. Students need to know what is available to them. They need to have this information easily accessible. With this type of delivery, students will be able to clearly see what each service offers them, and how it can help them, in a tacit manner that leaves little confusion. They will then be able to easily make the choice of which service to look into deeper, based on the need they had when beginning their “shopping trip”.
This would not merely be a page full of links however. The idea is to make this whole website more personal to the student. The portal will be incorporated with CANVAS, Banner, and all of the other common usage sites. Students would then only need log in once, and be able to access everything they need in one place. Students would be able to customize the page to their needs, so that each time they log in, their interests are most heavily represented on the page.
Preliminary Feature List
                Each student would have a personalized profile that would include information such as their major, class level, current GPA and class schedule that the student would have control over which details would be made public. Any school official, however, would have access to the information. Advisors and professors would be able to update and make notes on a student’s profile. This profile would be similar to those found on Facebook but would be filled with more academic information such as majors, minors, clubs, focus of study, etc. A profile would make the student more familiar to any facultly who might be working with the student, and give the student more incentive to take ownership of the site.
                Also similar to Facebook, the site would include a live feed page. This feed page would be directed more at relaying information about upcoming events. Student Services staff could post to it about upcoming fairs, service projects, and other events. A student’s teacher could post about upcoming events related to the class, SI Sessions, etc. Students could create posts about study sessions, requests for help, etc. and then make their posts visible to other students in their class.
                This type of profile would include an “appointment scheduling tool”, where advisors or other faculty could request a meeting with the student, and vice versa. The students basic schedule would be automatically uploaded into the tool, and the faculty in question would also have a basic schedule uploaded. This would allow easy comparison of available times, and allow them to immediately fill in a time for an appointment.
An advisor would be able to put alerts on the students account if needed. These alerts would prompt them to make an appointment through the appointment scheduling tool. These alerts would spawn from many issues such as being in danger of failing a class, needing to make a tuition payment, or failing to register classes. Until the student meets with the appropriate person to have the alert taken off, their account would be limited. Certain special features would be restricted, such as viewing other profiles and registering for classes.
There would also be an updated search engine. The current search engine on the USU main website often yields irrelevant and out-dated results. A  tactic that Google search engine uses is to place “official sites” and  “sponsored sites” at the top of the search list. Applying this to a USU search engine would mean that the search list would place student services and events closer to the top than older, less relevant information. A search engine is critical because students don’t always know exactly where to go for their information needs.
                On the main page there would be an integrated calendar. This calendar would show all the events on campus in addition to all school deadlines. This would put all event information in one central and easily accessible place. This would be a little more solid than the “feed page” mentioned above, and include information such as time, place and any admission costs. You would be able to take events from the feed page, and pin them into the calendar, thus making it more customized to the your needs. Students would be able to pick which events they went to and which ones they liked. This way, future events that apply directly to the student’s interests would be suggested on the main page. This is similar to the Pandora Radio website, or the Music Genome Project. The idea being that continued user input continues to match the website more and more to the user.
                Another key feature about the site would be tutorials. Currently, many of the services have things they wish the students knew, or had done, before they come to use the service. Accordingly, there would be “What to do BEFORE you come” tutorials available on the site for each service. Knowing what needs to be done prior to appointments will save the service time and maximize the value a student receives from their experience with the service.  There would also be many other tutorials based on what the Service needs the student to know. For example, the Financial Aid office could have a tutorial about the general process of applying for FAFSA, or many other things.
                In some cases, a student’s peers are the best resources. They are the experts on campus life and would be able to answer certain questions better than a school official. USU has not had any previous place for students to go to ask questions of other students. In this new design, however, there would be heavy emphasis on the discussion boards. Students would be able to go there to pose a question to the entire student body, or have the option to narrow it down to a specific class or those with the same major. Questions and comments would need to be moderated in some way either by advisors or professors. Any student would be able to flag a comment or question as potentially offensive or irrelevant which would then be looked at by a moderator. In theory, this would eliminate any casual conversations or offensive language.
                There would be an option for students to integrate their Genome account with their Facebook account. That would allow Facebook access to their account and pull information to put on the newsfeed.  Students would see updates such as events and updates to discussions they are participating in right on their Facebook newsfeed. This would not work the other way however, the Aggie Genome page would continue to contain only information about school related events.

                There are many obvious disconnects to be found between the student and the University. It has been stated that students with increased connection to the university, tend to do better during their education, as well as in their career after graduation. By incorporating this new design into the daily functions of the university, USU will be able to better serve the students, and thus increase their connection. Because this is a student driven initiative, it will reflect the needs of the student more clearly, and make the areas of weak connection stronger.
This is a model that would have to be adopted by all school officials, faculty, staff and advisors in order for it to work and achieve its maximum benefits. Seeing as it is a motion by the students to benefit the students, it should be a priority for faculty and staff to transition to the new program. We urge you to make the needed changes to benefit the student.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I had the Time of My Life with You


If I had to sum up the night of Sept. 28, that would be the word: wonderstruck.

That night was a dream come true. I GOT TO SEE TAYLOR SWIFT IN CONCERT!! :D

I went with my sister down to Salt Lake and we took A TON of pictures and videos (I filled up my entire memory card).

This picture was tricky. It took us like 5 minutes to balance the camera on the back of my car on top of our purses

We got makeovers from Covergirl. Maddi's turned out so much better than mine. BUT, we got FREE makeup! Mascara, lip gloss, lipstick, EVERYTHING. They were just handing it out to everyone. I won't need to buy any for a long time :)

Just waiting for the concert to start. And being very impatient.

This band was so bad that I don't even remember their name.

Needtobreathe was actually pretty good.

Taylor coming out on stage. FINALLY!

Some (of the the better) pictures of Taylor

Taylor Swift's cover of Animal by Neon Trees. She said she chose this song because the band is from Provo.


This was my absolute favorite part. She ended by singing Love Story and she got in this balcony looking thing and flew around the arena above the crowd. And there was sparkly confetti all over. Amazing.

I can't wait for the next concert! =)

**Sorry for the poor quality of the videos and pictures. We were pretty high up and the zoom on my camera just wasn't good enough.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The USU Design Studio

This semester, I am participating in something exciting at USU and have the opportunity to make a difference on campus. I am part of a team of 14 people who are taking on the challenge of designing a new, interactive web site for student services. Our goal is to create a 'one stop shop' experience for students and bring all information provided by student services to one place. We want to make it as engaging and interactive as possible. We are working collaboratively with the Business Innovation Factory in Rhode Island. They are guiding us through the design experience and we are currently in the Immersion phase of the project.

The first two weeks were spent learning about the details of the project and what the plan for the semester is. The class from last semester worked on the research and gathering the data needed. This semester, we plan to design what we, as students, would like to see implemented at USU.

The third week of class was spent interviewing significant stakeholders in this project. We talked to the VP of student services and most of the directors of each service (Admissions, Financial Aid, Advising, Student Success and Retention, Access and Diversity etc). The purpose of this was to briefly learn about each department. The class was divided into teams of two and each team will be a liaison for each department and will be the ones to contact if more information is needed.

This week, our team assignment is to conduct interviews with our specific departments. I have been assigned to the Access and Diversity Center. Our interview is scheduled for Thursday morning and we hope to obtain more specific and detailed information about the department. We also want to find out what this specific department's strength and weaknesses are and what their long-term goals are. In order to deliver the best model, we need to implement parts that will work for every department.

At the end of the semester, we will prepare a brief on our findings as well as a preliminary model of what we propose this new website should contain. We will present our ideas to the President of the University, The Provost Office and any other decision-making departments. If our ideas are liked and approved, USU will work towards implementing our findings.

I think this experience will be really beneficial for me. It provides necessary skills such as interviewing, research, and designing a new product model. And it will look really good on a resume, which is always a good thing. I will try to update my blog throughout the semester with our findings and also use this as a way to document this experience.

Friday, August 26, 2011

19 and Single

I am 19 and single. Why am I so love-sick??

It seems like every single time I get on Facebook someone else is engaged or someone else has started a wedding countdown or someone else has just got married. I have been feeling like the ugly duckling this entire time.

But, what I have realized is that there is no reason for me to feel that way!  These people who are getting married at 18 or 19 and right out of high school will probably just add to the statistic of marriages that fail.  Why am I envying this??

I am only 19 years old!  I am a baby in terms of a life span. Yet, I was feeling like I was destined for a life of TV reruns, bad Chinese food, and a collection of cats to keep me company.  I was scared of a life alone.  WHY??  I have my whole life ahead of me!  I am happy and loved by my friends and family and I'm SINGLE!  I can do whatever, whenever, and without having to answer to anyone!

But, instead of embracing my life as it is and loving the people I am surrounded by, I have become cynical and sullen and perpetually lonely.  That stops.  Now.  I am thrilled to say that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will find love, but I am not going to find it sitting on a couch watching chick flicks and hating my single-ness.  I have to go out there and live my single life that way it should be lived- FREE!  And by free, I mean independence.  It's not relying on anyone for anything or being relied on.

There are so many things I want to do.  So many places I want to see.

Here's to the end of the lonely nights, the sad, boring personality, the down trodden face, the love-sick girl that could be found journaling her thoughts with Ben and Jerry.  And here's to the beginning of my new life. A life filled with friends and family and fun and happiness and freedom.

I honestly feel bad for those people that have and/or are about to become tied down with a husband or wife and kids before they can even legally drink. While you have tied your life with responsibilities and commitment at such a young and carefree age; I will be out living mine.  Like I should be.

I will find love one day. But it will be when I have experienced life and am ready to settle down. Until then, I am more than willing to wait with my head held high.

I am a new person. I am single and free.  And I will be happy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I Can't Wait To Meet Her

Jumping head first into the unknown is scary.  And intimidating.  But it's good for us.  It teaches us things about ourselves we never knew before.  Trying new things provides insight into life and it's purpose.  Growing and learning is a natural part to life so it only makes sense that trying new things is essential.  But sometimes, when life gets really scary, we hold back and don't let ourselves push our boundaries.  And that, my friends, is the truly scary part.  Those moments when we are too afraid to allow ourselves to grow and slowly evolve into a new person.  We may be scared for many different reasons.  Maybe you are worried about what others will think.  Or maybe it is something you never believed you would have to face and now it is right there in front of you.  Or maybe it's the uncertainty surrounding the haze of the unknown.  Whatever the reason may be, it is in those moments that we really learn the most about ourselves.  In those moments that we are faced with the decision of pressing through it or finding a different path through life.  But I am certain that the alternate paths will be less rewarding and less satisfying.  Once we start down one of the 'easier' paths, we are forced to life with the regret and all of the "what if's" and unfortunately, there is no rewind button in life.  We are left with no choice but to keep pressing forward on this new path we have chosen.

A new school year is just about to start and I am anxious to see where life will take me in the next twelve months.  I know without a doubt that I will be, in no shape or form, the same person I am today.  Both the good and bad times will re-define me and I only hope that despite all the differences I will emerge a better person.  And I can't wait to meet her.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Neglect and an Excuse

I will admit, I have neglected my blog over the last month or so.  And the only excuse I really have is that I've been busy.  So I guess it's up to my readers to decide if that is a valid excuse or not.

So what exactly have I been so busy with?  I went to Canada for two weeks, which has definitely has been the highlight of my summer.  We had our own little 'Gregson Family Tour of Alberta', stopping in Magrath, Calgary and Edmonton.  And even taking a day trip to go to Banff and see the Canadian Rockies and Lake Louise.  Plus it was great to see all of my family again and to just have a vacation and leave life and all responsibilities behind in the states.  Now I am back to working everyday and trying to plan a bridal shower for my one of my bestest friends.  I still can't believe she is getting married!!  I have been super stressed with this and I know I shouldn't be but I want it to turn out perfect.  And this isn't your typical bridal shower either.  It will be an open house for friends, family and ward members.  So basically all the different types of showers combined into one big one.  And then on top of all that, the fall semester starts in two weeks!  I am so freaking excited!  I won't have to be a boring and super responsible adult anymore; I can be a fun and somewhat responsible student.  So I'll be saying goodbye to working full time and hello to friends in just a few short weeks!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pass the Popcorn, Please!

After a night at the movies to see the final Harry Potter movie (which was amazing by the way!), I realized that there are several movies I am looking forward too! Here are a few of them along with a small amount if information and the trailer (if there is one).

Note: Movies are in order of being released.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Finally!  After the success of the first Sherlock movie, how could the producers deny themselves the opportunity to make a sequel.  According to Wikipedia, Holmes and Watson take on their arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty with the help of Holmes' older brother and a gypsy woman.  Sounds good to me!  This movie is to be released December 2011.

The Hunger Games
The popular trilogy is finally hitting the big screen.  The Hunger Games tells the story of a future barbaric society in which killing is viewed as entertainment.  Each year two children from each district are sent into the arena; only one leaves.  Until Katniss and Peeta defy the government and spark a revolution when they both leave the arena.  The movie is scheduled to be released March 2012.
The Dark Night Rises
This is probably the movie I am anticipating the most!  I absolutely loved The Dark Night and was awed by the performance of both Christian Bale and Heath Ledger.  These two great actors, playing opposing roles, dominated the screen.  In The Dark Night Rises, the villain is Bane; a lesser known evil in the world of superheroes.  This movie is set to hit theaters July of 2012.

The Bourne Legacy
I thought that The Bourne Ultimatum was going to be the last in the Bourne Trilogy but it appears I was wrong.  The Bourne Legacy is still in pre-production and as far as I can tell, the storyline is still in the works.  And it is unclear is Matt Damon will be reprising his role as Jason Bourne.  I, for one, hope so.  I really like the other Bourne movies and it just would be the same without Damon.  The movie will be released in August 2012.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Midsummer Night's Blog

Goodness!  Can you believe summer is halfway over?  I feel like it was only a week ago that I was finishing finals and moving into my apartment.  Everything that could happen to make tonight a perfect summer night is happening.  I am sitting on my balcony writing this and watching the sunset fade behind those Utah mountains in a wounderous display of pinks and oranges; smelling that it-just-rained smell; and listening to the baby birds quietly chirping in their nest in the dark stairway.  What a good day.  Such a simple night.  Peaceful.

Throughout these past couple of weeks, I have been especially inspired by my idol, Taylor Swift.  Some people would take a failed relationship and would take their anger and frustration out physically or emotionally on someone else.  Instead, she channels that negative energy into a song.  A song that touches millions because of the blatant truthfulness of it.  I believe that she is popular because her songs are relatable for so many people.  So, lately I have been working on writing my own song.  It is a rough and slow process, but I am determined to finish it.  I have been trying to draw from real experiences and put that emotion into a song. And I hope that the more songs I write, the easier it will be to put those emotions into words.  And who knows, if I like the finish product, I may put it on here for some feedback ;)


Thursday, July 7, 2011

This Ain't A Fairy Tale

In fairy tales, the bad guy is always wearing a black cape, and you always know who he is. And then you wake up and you grow up. And when you grow you up, you realize that maybe Prince Charming isn’t as easy to find as you thought and that maybe the bad guy is not so easy to spot. Maybe the bad guy is not wearing a black cape at all. In real life, the bad guy is actually really, really cute.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

My 15 Minutes of Fame

Last year, I was a model for Alysse's Bridal which was a great experience and a totally different story for a different time :) But one night after one of our fashion shows, we got a call about a movie being filmed at Thanksgiving Point and they wanted us to be extras!  At the time, all we knew was that it was a prom scene and we were perfect because we were still all dressed for the fashion show for the formal dress line.  I begged my parents to let me do it and 20 minutes later me and my friend were stuffing our huge dresses into the car to go to the set.

After signing parental release forms, we were given our places and told what to do.  Count to ten then walk across the courtyard.  Don't look at the camera and don't make any noise.  Only pretend to talk to each other.  Be careful not to look directly at the actors.  And so on and so on.  We eventually learned that the movie was "You're So Cupid."  And the only actor I knew was Jeremy Sumpter, most famous for his part in "Peter Pan."  My friend was really excited and in between takes, she pulled out her camera and secretly filmed him and the set.  I'm pretty sure that was a no-no.  After a few takes, the set was changed slightly to prepare for the kissing scene.  I was placed in a group of other people directly behind the kissers.  Again, we were just supposed to pretend to talk.  The scene was filmed many times; more than I thought necessary.  A couple more shots were taken and then it was all over.  By this time it was around 2 am.  My poor family waited the whole time out in the parking lot.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that it was freezing that night!  But we were told to act not cold.  Anyways, the set photographer asked if we wanted to meet the actors and so we talked with Jeremy and the others and got our pictures taken with them.  And boy, Jeremy was a stuck up, jerk-face.  But it was a fun experience and was cool to see how movies were filmed.

Now fast forward 9 months and for Christmas I get the DVD.  I had almost forgotten all about it!  I was excited to watch it but there was no guarantee that I would be seen in it.  There are a couple of takes where, if you know where to look, you can see me.  And sure enough, I am right there in the background during the kissing scene.  But I didn't really like the movie... It's about these twin sisters, who are the school's matchmakers.  After a sequence of events, they find out that their dad is actually Cupid and they have the power to make people fall in love.  Both girls end up falling for the same guy and he falls in love with both (youtube the trailer).  Its a very, very cheesy chic flick.  But it was fun!  Which I guess is the important part :)


Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Nation of Wimps

Parents are going to ridiculous lengths to make life's journey smooth and easy for their children.  This hyperconcern and micromanaging has devastating effects on kids by making them more fragile and can be the reason for more kids breaking down in record setting numbers.

Even play-time at the park is changing.  More and more, parents are on the all-rubber-cushioned playground right there with their kids.  Few are taking it easy on the benches, as parents used to, letting the kids figure things out for themselves.

Childhood has become overly sanitized, and abhors skinned knees and the occasional C in math class.  Making mistakes, even on the playground, is completely out of style.  Error and experimentation are foundation of success; however, parents are determined to remove failure of any kind from their child's life.  This tends to make them risk-averse and psychologically fragile.  Young kids with severe anxiety are becoming more and more prevalent in elementary schools.  We learn from all experiences, whether good or bad, and it is through failure that we learn to cope.  Children are even sheltered from death and are instead told that their favorite pet 'ran away'.  With few challenges of their own, children are robbed of meaning and a sense of accomplishment.  Whether we realize it or not, we are creating a nation of wimps.

Kids aren't getting the benefits out of childhood that they once did.  Coaches tell them what position to play and where to stand, parents tell them what to eat and wear, and referees tell them who won and what is fair.  Kids are missing out on learning important leadership and problem solving skills.  True play encourages decision making, memory and thinking and it creates an ideal environment for children to develop social skills. These are all being stripped out of a child's play time as parents strive to make sure their child is the best.

Parents are naturally concerned about their children having high self-esteem, and there is nothing wrong with that.  But when it comes to the point when parents are willing to cheat on their child’s behalf to get them ahead of their peers, they have gone too far.  By doing things to make your child 'better' than his friends, you have just told him that he couldn't have done it on his own and shattered any sense of self.  The child begins to believe that if they need to cut corners and take every advantage they can get, then maybe there is something wrong with them.

The fragility factor is easily seen on college campuses across the country.  Psychological distress is quickly increasing; appearing in the forms of anxiety and depression, for example.  Parents are forced to let go of the hand of their adult child when they move out and go to college, but that doesn't stop parents from holding on until the very last good-bye in the student’s new room.  Many parents even go as far as to submit applications for college and scholarships for their teenagers, believe that anything lower than a B is unacceptable (even though a C is average) and believe that any form of failure is a reflection of their parenting.  College students are suddenly thrown into complete independence and are forced to do things they are not prepared for.  I had a roommate who had never down laundry or cleaned a bathroom before because her mom always took care of that.  Even after their child has left the house, parents still look for ways to ease their child's life.  A college administrator told me once about parents who call to protest their student's C in science class because it will damage his shot at grad school.  Well guess what, it was the student's fault and he more than likely earned that grade.

This brings me to the alarming revolution of grade inflation.  The bar is being lowered in order to provide students with success.  In my high school, they no longer had a valedictorian at graduation because of the increasing number of students graduating with 4.0 GPAs.  Many of these students were the ones who took the 'easy A' classes and not the ones who enrolled in multiple AP classes, rarely missed a class, and completed all homework on time.  One of those students should receive the honor of being named valedictorian, but because society promotes equality, it would be ludicrous to give that honor to only one person which would suggest that person was 'better' than the rest of the class.

The sheltered life of home has no physical boundaries.  College students are constantly talking to parents through phone calls, texting and Facebook.  When a problem arises and the student needs to make a decision, they immediately consult mom and dad instead of figuring things out for themselves.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with phone calls to parents, in fact I actually encourage it, but when the sole purpose of the phone call is to ask whether going to the lake for the weekend would be a good idea or not, that seems a little excessive.  Perhaps calling afterwards to relate the events of the weekend would be more appropriate.  Students are now adults and making simple decisions are part of the adult life they agreed to when they moved out.

Parents need to realize that although they mean well, their actions can create devastating effects on their child. 

What do you think?  Is our nation raising wimpy children?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

wednesday the fifteenth of june

I applied for a new job!  This one is at a bridal store and I think I would really enjoy working there.  I haven't heard anything yet, but hopefully I will! :)

So this past weekend, I went to visit my wonderful family in Layton.  On Saturday, we went to a family reunion in Newton; a teeny, tiny town  next to the Idaho border.  We were late getting there and when we walked in, a lady was talking about wanting to get a picture before everyone started leaving.  Leaving?? We had just got there!  So we tried to talk to people a bit, but it was relatives I didn't know.  Besides my family, I think I knew 3 or 4 other people.  Eventually, we left and made the hour and a half drive back home.  Later, we had a movie night and watched I Am Number Four and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  The number four movie was really good!  Although I was a little annoyed when the it ended and left the story plot wide open.  I am guessing there will be a sequel in the future...?

I am finally starting to get to know some people who live in my building.  Last week we met the boys who live next door and the other night, I hung out with them and watched a movie and played outside and just talked :) We are slowly making new friends.

Okay. Time for a funny story.  I work with this really odd guy.  He just has the weirdest ideas.  He was telling me about this one government conspiracy.  So apparently, the government and Apple have joined forces and are aiming to take over the world.  They are designing the ipods so that as many people will buy them as possible.  And once enough people have bought them, the government will tell Apple to flip a switch or something that will send an electric current through the ipod and headphones into the users brain.  Then they will have control over the entire population.  I know, crazy, right?  And the funny thing is that he was dead serious.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Start Stumbling!

Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls of all ages!  I have recently discovered the incredible art of stumbling.  What's stumbling you ask?  Well, it is this wonderful site that you can discover too by clicking here.  Stumbling is a simple art that anyone can master.

First, you create your account.  Second, choose your interests.  It can be anything from crafts to sports.  Third, hit the stumble button and you are off to discover fantabulous new things!

StumbleUpon is designed to take you to websites that fit our individual interests.  Interested in photography, for example?  Then you will be taken to look at some stunning photos.

It is perfect for those times when you want to do nothing more than sit and waste away time.

***Warning: If you are a chronic procrastinator, use with caution.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Random Stuff I Don't Need But Kinda Want

The purpose of this blog is to showcase those random items that are cool but not necessarily needed.

I would love to have a hammock, and I'd even take a private island to go with it!

This bathtub has an Audrey Hepburn-esque to it.

Great idea! Make dishing out dinner a little easier!

This salt and pepper shaker gives you the best of both worlds.


I would be found guilty of playing with my food if I had these...

Love it!

This idea is very original.  I can honestly say I have never seen anything quite like it.

This reminds me of New York City.  I absolutely love twinkling lights!

Kitchen space is very valuable, make use of those tight corners with a spacious drawer.

Okay, I might actually need this one.  Cutting my own guitar picks is difficult sometimes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

But, It's My Dream!

Dreams, goals and aspirations; they all are a governing force in our lives.  They are points we wish to reach in our life time.  They are destinations we want to end up at.  Without dreams, life can be quite dull.  How we act and the decisions we make are ultimately determined by our dreams.  We desperately want to reach our goals and actualize our dreams, so we are willing to make the necessary.  For example, an aspiring college student is going to put forth the time and effort to be involved and get good grades in high school in order to be accepted into their dream college.

Lately, I have been thinking about what my dreams and what exactly I want to achieve in life and making my own bucket list.  Here are just a few of my dreams.

★ graduate college ***in progress***
★ temple marriage
★ write a song
★ adopt
★ live in NYC
★ meet Taylor Swift
★ learn to play the guitar ***in progress***
★ see the northern lights
★ find a 4-leaf clover
★ catch fireflies
★ help baby sea turtles make it to the ocean
★ go on a humanitarian trip to a foreign country

Dreams are what keep us going in life.  Without them, what would we have to look forward to?  What would be purpose of living?  My dreams keep me going during the rough patches and help me stay focused on what I really want.

And I just have to include this video clip.  One, because it has to do with dreams. And two, it stars the one and only, Taylor Swift!

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