Thursday, March 29, 2018

My Grandma Snow

My sweet Grandma Snow passed today. Being far from family while this has been happening has not been easy. (And harder still that Josh has been gone for training all month!) But one of the last things my Grandma told me, with strength and love in her eyes, was to "Be Brave." So through my many tears I've had that phrase running through my head constantly trying to make her proud by doing what she asked me to.

My Grandma Snow was one tough lady. You never had to guess what she was thinking- it was either all over her face or quickly escaping her mouth. Our family will forever giggle about the crazy things she used to say, often with a few expletives sprinkled in. But those silly sayings aren't the only thing we'll remember.

I'll remember her sitting peacefully at our kitchen table in Herndon enjoying her morning Diet Coke and a good book.

I'll remember her favorite snack was salt and vinegar chips- particularly the folded ones. So one day my Mom and I got a few bags of salt and vinegar chips and picked out all the folded ones and mailed them to Grandma to brighten her day. I'll never see a folded chip without thinking of her.

I'll remember her pretty porcelain dolls she had for each grandkid, mine being a little girl with a blankie- which was spot on since I had a blankie practically sewn to my side growing up. While visiting one summer she sat with me in front of the display case full of the dolls and convinced me to cut a piece off my precious blankie (which I hated to even have washed). She said we could put with my doll so if on a future visit I forgot my blankie I'd have a piece waiting for me at Grandmas. I guess I learned from a young age that you do what Grandma Snow asks you to do.

I'll remember calling Grandma and asking what she was doing and she'd respond, "Ohh just watching Law 'n' Arder."

I'll remember her somehow having the most pictures of me in her house and getting teased that I was the favorite grandkid.

I'll also remember her admitting to me that I was the favorite grandkid. (Even if she quickly followed it up by saying, "Each of my grandkids are my favorite!" She still said it.)

I'll remember visiting over Spring Break one year as a kid and seeing how close my cousin Chalisse was with Grandma. Chalisse would go over every morning before school and they would have breakfast together. I remember feeling jealous of the close relationship Chalisse had with Grandma. Only getting to see Grandma once a year meant that each visit we kind of had to get reacquainted. But then when I went to college 20 minutes away from her I took my chance to get close. I made it to every Sunday dinner I could and to any other family gathering. I remember dropping by one day and enjoying a Diet Coke at Grandma's kitchen table and just catching up. I will always treasure those years I was able to spend near my Grandma. And not just because it helped me to edge out my competition for favorite grandchild. ;)

I'll remember her grabbing each grandkid by the arms and shaking them saying, "Ohh I love you!"

I'll remember calling her after she met Josh for the first time at family dinner and her gushing about how much she loved him. She told me, "You know I'm a great judge of character and I think he is a good guy!" She kept repeating, "Annie, I really think you found a great one!"

I'll remember her looking over the enormous Cheesecake Factory menu and but then quickly putting it down to say, "I'm getting a chocolate milkshake for dinner." (Which also happened to be her last meal.)

I'll remember dropping by her house to pick something up and interrupting a club meeting. (Grandma got together regularly with ladies she had been friends with since grade school.) She had the tables set so nicely with her fancy tableware and I felt bad interrupting, but she was so excited to see me and even seemed so proud of introduce me to everyone. I loved feeling like she was proud of me.

I'll remember every family dinner Grandma pulling Sara and I aside to tell us there were cold Diet Cokes in the fridge and to help ourselves. She knew she had passed on the Diet Coke gene to us.

I'll remember her grabbing me before I left for Africa and her pleading with me to be safe. Then when I got home she said, "I'm sorry but I'm so happy you're not in Africa anymore."

I'll remember her dedication to temple attendance. Every Wednesday morning she and a friend would go to the first early morning session at the Provo temple.

I'll remember hearing stories of her being brave and a force to be reckoned with. I always will strive to be as strong as the Snow legacy she helped create. And like I learned when I was a kid, I'll do what she asked and "be brave."

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Here's to Strong Women

I went to see Wonder Woman last night and seriously within the first few minutes I was crying and then crying didn’t really stop after that. It might be because I’m on this “empower women” kick but for whatever reason I was unexpectedly moved by seeing strong, powerful women on the big screen. Honestly I’ve been feeling superhero-ed out and so seeing Wonder Woman wasn’t on the top of my to-do list. But then I saw so many woman giving it rave reviews and talking about how powerful it was for them to see and so I figured I better go see it. In the first scenes it’s all women. Strong, powerful, brave women. I kept thinking, “Why does this feel like such a rare, new thing? Women ARE strong, powerful, and brave!” I didn’t think seeing a woman as the hero would have such a powerful impact on me, but I left fired up and passionate about inspiring women to be strong, powerful, and brave. I now have a newfound love for Wonder Woman.

When I was teaching PE at an Elementary School and taught push-ups I would not allow my students to call modified push-ups “girl” push-ups. I did that for two reasons, first because I didn’t want the boys to feel embarrassed if they couldn’t so a full push-up (which, at their age, very few can) and second because doing something an easier way is not the “girl” way to do it. It was crazy to me that even 3rd graders knew the term “girl” push-ups. It made me wonder who was teaching them this. There is an Always campaign where they talk about saying “you ______ like a girl” as an insult. I remember when I first watched it was so proud of those little girls for running hard, fighting tough, and throwing strong LIKE A GIRL. (Go watch their campaign videos and I dare you not to cry.) That’s what we need to be teaching young girls. They are strong, tough, and every bit as capable as the boys.

I recently watched a documentary called Miss Representation (it's on Netflix) which talked about how women are portrayed in the media. They showed young girls talking about how the media affects them. I was broken hearted to hear one girl express worry for her sister who cuts herself because she doesn’t feel pretty enough. Through her tears she asked, “When will it be enough?” I just wanted to find her and her sister to hug them and say, “YOU ARE ENOUGH!” It struck me because I think all women have felt like that at one time or another. We think, I’m not pretty enough, smart enough, skinny enough, loved enough, etc. We need to stop thinking that! You are enough, you are uniquely talented and extremely loved. I think an important way we can fight those thoughts of not being enough is by being kind to each other. If you think something kind about someone- TELL THEM! It’s not weird or creepy, wouldn’t you love it if someone randomly messaged you to give you a compliment? Who wouldn’t love that? So think of someone right now to reach out to and share some love.

Consider this as me sharing my love to you. You are strong, beautiful, talented, and LOVED. Don't let yourself think for a second that you aren't. You have so much love to give, so you can spare a little of that love for yourself. You deserve it.


Thursday, January 26, 2017


I am overwhelmed by love. 

I have to be honest I was not at all excited for my birthday this year. My best friend is across the country with no way to contact me or celebrate with me and I was worried I would just cry all day missing him. But boy was I wrong. 

He definitely communicated to me through different creative ways that made my day special. He had secret helpers send me not one, but two BEAUTIFUL bouquet of flowers during my school day. 

He wrote me a special letter to be opened on my birthday that melted my heart. He really wanted this day to be special for me and wanted me to “live it up for the both of us.” Oh how I love him. 

Not only did I feel so loved by him but by my students. I had lots bring me little notes and drawings they made and it was even better to see the look on their faces as I opened them and said thank you and expressed how much I loved them. They were so proud and excited that they made me smile. All the classes had secretly planned (or spontaneously planned) to sing Happy Birthday to me. They were so excited to get to celebrate with me. Many gave me hugs and wished me a happy birthday (some multiple times). I love my sweet students and  feel so blessed to have them in my life. 

I also felt so much love and support from my friends and family. I received so many sweet gestures from people wishing me well and letting me know how much they cared for and loved me. My parents surprised me with breakfast in bed, a family tradition they had to miss the last 6 years. All of my favorite people made a point to celebrate with me in some way; whether it be a thoughtful text, a perfect gift, joining me for dinner, or indulging me by listening to some of Josh’s letters. I am very blessed to have such amazing people in my life. 

While I was anxious to just get today over with I now just wish this day lasted a little longer. Even though Josh is thousands of miles away I feel closer to him than I have since he left. I know he is thinking about me and had planned special surprises throughout my day to make this a special day. I couldn’t have married a more thoughtful, loving man. it February 22nd yet? :)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Never Alone

As you all probably know from all the posts, Josh is officially in the Army.

He is away at Basic Training at Ft. Jackson in South Carolina. Basic Training will last 12 weeks (with a 2 week break over Christmas!!!! YAY!!!) During Basic he will have no access to his phone, so old fashion letters will be our form of communication. It's been 3 weeks now and I've really been trying not to be too dramatic about this separation. Especially since he will come home for Christmas in one week. (YAY!!!!!!) But I've got to be honest, it's really hard. 

The first week was alright because it was his processing week so he was able to have his phone and call every night. I got to hear about how awful the drill sergeants were and even laugh with Josh about some of the silly mistakes other members in his platoon were making.

The second week got tougher as he started official training and wasn't able to use his phone and I received no letters, not because he wasn't writing them, they just haven't come. It was a week of me constantly wondering what his day to day was like and how he was doing. 

The third week I got a phone call! He called Monday during one of my classes and luckily they were at a part in the lesson where they were independent and it was a class I trusted so I could answer. It was such a relief to hear his voice. He told me training was really hard and he got very little sleep but everyday got a little better. Unfortunately he told me he hadn't received any letters yet. I had been writing him one everyday since I got his address. We talked for 5 minutes then I had to get back to teaching. Luckily he was able to call back in 30 minutes so I could talk more during a break in my schedule. I love that man. 

After that call I have had no communication with him. Still no letters. I'm counting down the days until he is home for Christmas. (7) 

This week I was reminded of a french phrase that perfectly describes how I feel. (Get ready it gets mushy.)

Tu me manques. 

It translates to "I miss you", but it's literally translated to "you are missing from me."

(Told ya it gets mushy...)

That is precisely how I feel. After almost 3 years of marriage (holy cow that went by fast) we have become such a close team that without him I really feel like part of me is missing. It's definitely a hard adjustment to life without my teammate a phone call away. There are so many instances during my day where I think, "Oh I should text Josh this." or "I can't wait to go home and tell Josh this hilarious thing my student did." But then I very quickly am reminded that I can't call or go see him, I have to write it in a letter that he'll get days (or weeks) from now. Like I said, I'm really trying not to be too dramatic about this time apart but this is my blog so I get to be dramatic here. 

Alright I'm done with the mushy stuff, for now. 

Even though this has been tough few weeks I have been overwhelmed by the love and support Josh and I have received. I've received so many sweet texts and gestures of people just letting me know they are there for me. My husband may be miles away with very limited communication but I am not alone. 

Just tonight, I went over to my best friends place to drop something off and intended to stay and chat for an hour. That hour chat turned into a 4 hour heart to heart that unfortunately ended with my car getting booted. After paying the fee to have it removed I decided I deserved some Wendy's since I skipped dinner and well, got booted. 

I ordered 4 chicken nuggets. I pulled up to the window and the employee noticed the boot warning flyer that was in my passenger seat next to me. He asked, "Did you get booted tonight?" I replied an annoyed, "yes.." Then he responded, "Oh I am so sorry, I'm going to give you a frosty to try to help improve your night." I was so surprised by his quick act of simple kindness. He came back with my nuggets and told him he gave me 8 instead of 4. He told he he hoped that this helped make my night better and I thanked him profusely with tears in my eyes. I know it's only a frosty and some nuggets but I was so taken back by his kindness. 

But wait this story gets more embarrassing...I drove away and reached in to the bag to get a nugget and when I pulled it out I just started to cry. Like really cry. Like cry enough that I had to pull over. So there I was holding a nugget in one hand and a frosty in the other, crying. Like a crazy person. I was just so overcome with gratitude for the little tender mercies my Heavenly Father has given me these past couple weeks. 

When I was starting to feel the most disappointed about not hearing from Josh I got all call from him the next day.

When Josh left for basic and I was feeling daunted about this new adventure my sweet manager sent me flowers. 

When traffic very suddenly stopped on my way to work a big truck was able to safely switch lanes so he wouldn't rear end me. 

When I was missing Josh at a work Christmas party a thoughtful co-worker came over to express her support.

When I started to feel discouraged at school my 1st graders noticed my Sodalicious shirt and learned that I work there and began clapping and cheering for me.

When I was really wishing Josh was with me watching Netflix, my sweet brother-in-law calls me to check in.

When I was starting to really feel lonely that my teammate was so unreachable I was reminded by a dear friend that I'm not alone. 

When I was feeling the most frustrated and upset an angel Wendy's worker gave me a free frosty and extra 4 nuggets. 

Heavenly Father reminds me time and time again that I am never alone. He is mindful of me and is watching out for me. He knows what I can handle and gives me encouragement along the way to remind me of my strength. He has given me the knowledge to know that this is exactly the plan that He has for us. We are doing exactly what he needs and wants us to do. He has given me that confirmation to never doubt that Josh is precisely where he needs to be and I am where I need to be. With that knowledge, when things get hard, I can remind myself of that fact and know that I can get through these next 5 months away from my teammate. 

Alright. I'm done being dramatic and mushy. It's all out of my system now. Until next time...thanks for reading. :)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

First Year: Check!

First year for teaching is done! I had my last official teacher responsibility tonight. I have to say I feel pretty proud with how this year turned out. I learned a whole lot, struggled a whole lot, but in the end loved it a whole lot more. There were definitely my fair share of days where I wanted to just give up on the school day and go home. But there were far more successes along the way that kept me going. Here are a few of those successes to sum up the year-

I was teaching jump rope and I had a few students that were really struggling getting the rhythm down. I had one in particular that was really having a hard time and I could tell he was embarrassed so he stopped trying. I have a little spot that's more hidden to the rest of the gym and I invited him to practice in there so he could feel more comfortable. I worked one on one with him and had him slow things way down. When he finally got just one successful jump he had the most excited look on his face. I was so excited for him I seriously had tears in my eyes. By the end of the class he was still only able to do one or two jumps in row but he left feeling more confident then he came and it was so inspiring to see his determination.

I had a few students get really emotional and open up to me to tell me their parents were going through a divorce or had recently been divorced. I didn't always know what to say but it made me more determined to make my gym somewhere they can come feel safe and loved. I also worked hard to make it a fun environment to take a break from not only school work but maybe a break from their worries or struggles they carried around with them. I felt I was successful at that anytime a student would feel comfortable opening up to me then left the class smiling.

I have a student who has had some really hard struggles at home with an abuse and neglect. These struggles have influenced some severe behavior problems at school. I had struggles with him pretty much all year. He didn't trust me or necessarily seem to even like me. One class was particularly hard and he spent pretty much the whole class not following directions and ignoring anything I told him. We were playing basketball and he was hanging from a free standing hoop I have. I asked him if he would please get down because I didn't want it to fall and for him to get hurt. He said, "I don't care if I get hurt." Knowing his struggles at home this broke my heart. I quickly and firmly said, "I care. I care if you get hurt because I care about you." I then walked away to help another student and then looked over a minute or two later and he had finally done what I had asked of him at the beginning of class. I learned that showing how much you care can go a long way. From then on the rest of the year he was more inclined to follow directions and we had a much better relationship.

For the last few months of school I implemented a incentive program to help encourage my students to be good sports. They had the opportunity to earn points for anything they did that showed me they were trying their best to be good sports. The winning class got to have BYU Soccer players come and play soccer with them at school and we went to a soccer game and had front row seats! It was just a fun thing and I feel like it really made a difference in how the students treated each other. There were less arguments and tears and more fun.

When students asked if I was coming back next year and they heard I was they said, "YES!" with a fist pump involved sometimes. I even received similar responses from some teachers! That is a success for sure.

I'm grateful to have a year of teaching under my belt. I feel more confident moving forward. Still have a lot to learn but I feel proud of the year I have accomplished. I'm excited to keep learning and improving next year. But first, SUMMER. Cruise here I come!

Saturday, April 9, 2016


We are doing the Questival this weekend and we are having a blast! No sleep, adventures, good friends, and doing good. #ellamanators #questival 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

At the top of my list all you'll see is HOME.

Josh said something today that struck me. He said, "The older I get the less I care about gifts and surprises and the more I care about being with my family for Christmas." He is so wise.

This year is not unique to any other due to the fact that each year I get a little too caught up in getting great gifts for the people I love, and putting together my perfect Christmas list of course. Christmas starts to become who can "out-gift" who. Josh then so perfectly reminded me that the reason I love Christmas so much is because I get 2 whole weeks with my favorite people in the world.

Just as I was considering this thought a song came on my Spotify playlist called, "I'm Coming Home." One of the lyrics is, "at the top of my list all you'll see is home." Perfect.

So my countdown this year is not necessarily for Christmas morning, but for December 18th because that's the day I get to go home and be with the people I love most.