Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reality Town

This year all the 8th graders had the chance to participate in Reality Town at the Junior High. This is an event that the the school & PTA sponsor. Based on the student's grades and their interest, they are given a career. With that career, they are given their monthly salary, possibly a spouse and 0-2 kids.

Emma paying her property taxes with Kayla by her side

Emma had a GPA high enough that she could choose any profession she wanted. She said she wrote down that she either wanted to be a school teacher or anesthesiologist LOL! She was assigned the career of teacher. She was earning a little over $3,000 a month but she was married so she had some supplemental income. 
One more shot of her writing out her check

The kids had checkbooks and a booklet that had all the things they would need to pay for for one month. Here are some of the things they had to purchase: housing, utilities, property taxes (this is where I worked with three other ladies), groceries (Macey's comes in and does this one - gives them popcorn too), personal grooming (if they had highlights or colored hair, their cost went up - a local hair salon does this one), home improvements (Emma drew a card that said she had to pay $800 on carpet. She's still irked by that one.), pets (She wanted a turtle but never got to get one), entertainment (if your parents took you on vacation, you had to take your family on vacation too - it was not optional but she did choose a cheaper weekend trip), communications, transportation, bank (yep, they had to pay $20 for their checkbook), Insurance - health/car, Just my Luck (spin the wheel & see if you get good or bad news - if you had health or car insurance, sometimes it wasn't too big a deal), investment consulting, financial counseling, 2nd jobs (lots of kids ran out of money & needed more income) and they even had a roaming cop giving tickets for kids with cars & no insurance (Emma got fined $10 for PDA because she hugged her friend LOL!)  

Emma and Kayla

It takes about 2 hours (they had two waves of 8th graders so we worked over four hours) for them to go to all the different stations. The kids have a great time learning about how expensive life really is. 

Emma, Kayla and Anna at the utilities station

I loved working at Reality Town and I really liked being in property tax. It was cut and dry. Based on what house they chose they had to pay X amount. That amount was already calculated so we just had to wait for them to write out their checks, help them get their new checking balance and then sign off their booklet. Some stations took a very long time because the kids had to stand their and make decisions. I've noticed that 8th graders aren't the quickest creatures on the planet. 

We had to be there at 8:00 am. That was hard to do since we all were getting ready at the same time. I will blame my rushing around crazy early in the morning as the reason I forgot my camera.(I used my cell phone and borrowed some pictures from Michelle C.) One perk was they fed the volunteers breakfast and lunch plus they gave us a bunch of coupons for local retailers. Score! Another perk is I got to work property tax with some friends. It was nice to sit and visit between groups and get to know some new people. I will certainly help out again. I think this was a very valuable learning experience. I know Emma had her eyes opened by all the surprise expenses she had.

Young Women is Excellence

Photo Courtesy of Michelle C. 

Last Wednesday Paul and I had the honor of attending Young Women in Excellence. The theme was Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful. The night was suppose to be like a pageant. It was sort of cheesy but then again most Young Women things are. They had a great message and that's what counts.

There were eight YW dressed up in prom dresses that matched the value colors. When introduced, each of the girls were asked, "How did your value help you to find your inner beauty?" The girls had some funny, and some serious answers. You could tell they were having fun with it. Afterwards, each value girl presented each YW who had finished their project with a mirror that had the little cards I had made saying Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful on it.

Emma is really good about doing what needs to be done in most areas. (school work, homework, house work etc.) Her one nemesis is piano. She HATES piano. I get it. I hated it too but now I wish I had worked harder but i am grateful for the skills I do have. I have told her that she can quit when she can play the primary songs and the hymns. She still doesn't practice, she still complains and she still feels tortured.

Emma's piano teacher is in the Young Women presidency. Holly gave Emma a BIG challenge. She told her that she wanted her to finish all of Individual Worth, that included the six value experiences and the 10 hour value project, in time for the Young Women in Excellence. She said that learning her Christmas song would count as her value project. (that meant practicing it for at least 10 hours) She had less than two weeks to complete everything.

Emma took the challenge. She practiced at least 45 minutes a day. It was amazing how quickly she learned her song that she had said was "way too hard!" She honestly thought she could never learn it but she did. Wow who would have thought, practicing works!

I could see how relieved and happy she was when she completed her goal. She was able to go to the church that night and was recognized as completing that area of her personal progress. She was quite proud of herself as well she should be.

We Must be Doing Something Right

Mr. Hadley on Halloween

Our High Councilman at church (a Mormon thing) is also the janitor at Andrew's elementary school. He was called to serve in our ward two years ago. At the time it was interesting to see the kids reaction to Mr. Hadley being in our ward. It took a while before they could get used to calling him Brother Hadley on Sundays. After the initial shock (LOL!) wore off it became a wonderful thing for these kids to see him each Sunday in such a different light.

He is an incredible man and has been the best high councilman ever. He stays for the whole three hour black and has really become part of our ward. There was one Sunday a while back where he spoke and he asked his wife to be his companion speaker. She gave the most amazing talk about body image. She related our bodies to Huffy bikes. I know it sounds funny but it was perfect and I will  never forget her message. I really love and admire this family.

As you know we are big BYU football fans. It just so happens that this year Mr./Brother Hadley's son Preston is a starter for the team.

All season the kids would try to yell at him during warm-ups but he was too focused so they never got his attention. They were dying to meet him so they could tell him how much they love his dad.

We got to church on Sunday, early as usual so we didn't see a program for a while. I finally was able to get the program and to my shock and excitement I see that Brother Hadley is speaking and his companion speaker this time is Preston! I was so excited to share the news with the kids. You should have seen the look on their faces when they read the program. Awesome!

The deacons were all whispering and watching the doorways. You could feel the buzz of excitement throughout the building. Especially amongst the young men. It was like having a celebrity in our midst LOL!

Preston spoke and did a very nice job. The kids listened intently. He is really a great role model and I am glad they have athletes like him to look up to. We sang a rest hymn and then Brother Hadley spoke. They were talking about service and how even the smallest acts can mean the world to someone else. Brother Hadley shared some neat stories about Preston, his mission, his diligence on the field and how he is a such faithful young man. I couldn't help but be thouched watching him express his love for his son.

At some point he started talking about his job. He reminded everyone that he was the janitor at the school and said that there was one young man in the congregation that would hug him and thank him for his hard work almost ever day after lunch. He said he hoped he didn't embarrass him by telling everyone who he was and then he named my son Andrew as that special young man. He said it meant to world to him to have his service acknowledged. He said a few more nice things about Andrew and he also said his parents must be teaching him well for him to notice these small acts of service. Wow. I think our whole family was beaming. It was such a proud moment for all of us.

At times, a lot of times, I worry about Andrew. He can be so lazy and so unwilling to do the simplest things. The little things are such an ordeal for him. It takes everything we have to get him to finish a sheet of math homework. I wonder if we didn't push him every step of the way if he will ever finish school. I wonder if he will be able to keep a job or if he will lose his temper and quit when things get tough. I worry about the paths he will choose. I worry that he is going to have a very hard road ahead of him if he isn't carfeul.

I see his weaknesses but I also know he has many many strengths. He is sweet. He is tender. He is loving. He is wicked smart! He can feel the Spirit so strongly when he allows himself to. My hope as his mother is that we can work on his strengths and cultivate them. I hope that we can help him find his drive and passion and harness if for good. When I hear that others get to witness his sweetness it makes me happy and it makes me think we have a chance.

I am glad that the lessons we are teaching him at home are impacting him and the lives of others. It makes me think that Paul and I must be doing something right.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Super Cute Primary Class

At the beginning of the year I was asked to be a primary teacher. I wasn't excited about it but I accepted the call. They wanted me to teach a class of four and five year olds. I went the first week and it was awful. I hated it. I am not one that does well with little kids that aren't mine. I don't find them that cute or charming, especially when they sneeze on me or pick their nose all through class. They couldn't answer the most basic questions and their attention span was that of a gnat. 

I went home and cried and then I called my friend in the primary presidency and said,


She called me back and said that there was an older class in need of a teacher and asked if I thought that would be better. I quickly said yes. Right away I knew I'd really like these kids. They were 11 years old turning 12. I knew who they all were and I knew their families. They were fun, intelligent and spunky. One of the kids was Jenna, Emma's BFF. 

It was so much better teaching the older kids but there were still bumps in the road. I was told by the primary president that this is a calling where you need to be able to fill your own spiritual cup and in the beginning I wasn't able to do that. It was a challenge but as time went on things got better. The kids were challenging at times but we grew to understand each other. I tried my best to make things fun and I almost always had a treat for them at the end of class. They knew my expectations and only rarely did they cross the line. 

I had promised them if they were good in class I would throw them a party before the end of the year. I tried to have the party over the summer but each time I would pick a date I would find out someone had a conflict. School started, sports started, it was getting harder and harder to have a party. I owed it to these kids but I still had some time right? Wrong. I found out in October that I was being released. I was called to be the secretary in the Relief Society. 

I had mixed emotions about the new calling. I am not organized. I have never been the secretary of anything and my biggest concern of all, what was going to happen to my kids? I had grown to really love and care about these seven little people. You know what? They loved me too. I could see it, feel it and I heard it from their parents. Immediately I asked if I could still teach them until the end of the year and do the new calling as well. I was told I could if I wanted but that I should think about it and that I would teach them one more time for sure and they would sustain me the following week.

That day I went to Relief Society (My kids had almost all turned 12 by this time so I no longer went to Sharing Time with them) and at the end of the meeting I had the sweetest confirmation that I needed to give my 100% to my new calling and that I needed to let these sweet kids go. 

I went to church the next week and that is when they released me and then sustained me to my new calling. You should have seen the look on these kids faces when they heard I was no longer going to be their teacher. It. Broke. My. Heart. 

After sacrament meeting I went to class and confirmed that I was no longer their teacher. I told them how much they meant to me. I told them I was always going to love them and that I would always be their friend. I cried. I cried a lot that day. At that point I still didn't know who their teacher was going to be. They were in limbo. All day I wondered who would teach them? Would they love them like I do? I worried about it a lot. 

That afternoon after church I was still upset and still crying. I got a call from my friend and neighbor Diane. Diane is also Jenna's mom. She is one of the most wonderful women I have ever known. She was recently released as the stake young women president and had been calling-less for a few weeks. She was calling to ask me for the lesson manual since she had just been called to teach my old class. 

Immediately I felt peace. I knew they would be taught well. I knew they would be loved. I knew they would still get to have fun. I also knew that if I had been selfish and kept them as my class they, and the kids coming up next year, may have missed out on having Diane as a teacher. She would have been snatched up for something else and the kids wouldn't have had the benefit of learning from her. That would have been a real shame. 

I asked Diane if she would help me with the party I owed these kids and she quickly and happily agreed. On November 4th we took them to Trafalga after eating a ton of cheap crappy pizza at my house. My only rule was they all had to play at least one round of laser tag with everyone in the group. They happily obliged and behaved wonderfully for the most part. They climbed the rock wall, went on the Frog Hopper ride, ate junk food and played video games. I think they all had a good time. Everyone came except one boy. I was so sad he didn't make it but he was off having fun at a birthday party or something so I understood. 

Derek and Joey on the rock wall

Braxton, Emma (not in my calss but came along anyway) Nicole, Jenna and Christopher waiting for their turn on the wall.

Look at Derek! 

Come on Christopher. Use those muscles.

The Frog Hopper got a good workout from us that night. 

The boys were screaming so loud that the girls waiting for the wall couldn't help but laugh at them.

Sorry for the blurry pictures but this things drops pretty quickly.

Jenna finally made it on the wall.

Laser Tag Time!!!

Three of my most favorite girls on the whole planet. 

Here's the whole motley crew. Once again, THEY ARE AWESOME! 

I already miss working with them but if things work out the way I think they might I may get to be part of their Sundays again in 2012. That's all I can say about that. Crossing fingers...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy Halloween 2011

Once upon a time my uncle had a poster in his room of a mountain goat. The poster was captioned with "I'm so far behind I think I'm first." That's how I'm feeling about blogging Halloween. I'm so far behind I've almost forgotten that I haven't done it. I can almost tricked myself into thinking I'm all caught up, or in other words "first" : P 

We had a good Halloween. It took me a long time to get into it but once we started partying at Disneyland I was ready and excited. This year we didn't ever make it to the pumpkin patch or to the canyon for our annual fall family photos. That is a little disappointing to me but there wasn't enough time to do it all and California won. 

Wow these pictures are super out of order but I'm not going to worry about it. 

The kids carved pumpkins (that we had bought at grocery stores just days before) on Sunday night with hardly any help from Paul or I. They are getting so independent. 

Emma made a super cute owl. I had really fun orange and brown feathered eyelashes for her costume but they were missing on Halloween night. We looked and looked but finally had to admit defeat. We weren't even sure we got home with them from our trip. It was really upsetting. For me. Her eyes/face looked rather bare but there wasn't time to go buy more before trick-or-treating. Guess what, I found them this past week. I wonder if she'd do re-takes while they are on Thanksgiving break? 

More carving pictures.

The kids together. I promise I wasn't torturing Andrew.

Look at those delicious seeds.

This is by far my most favorite picture of the night. 

He made a great Mad Hatter.

I was Cleopatra this year. 

We didn't put out all of our decorations this year but my witches made it out. I heart them.

Both kids went trick-or-treating with friends. At first I was at a loss. What do I do if I don't get to go out with the kids? Finally I decided I was going to walk around and visit with some of the neighbors. After a while the kids let me drive them around to some houses at the bottom of our neighborhood. They love going down but hate coming back up! I can't blame them.

It was just Paul and I for a while. 

He said he wanted to cross out lazy and write cheap. Whatever. 

The weather was awesome! It was dry and in the 50's. What more can you ask for? How about a gorgeous sunset. Done! 

I loved Andrew's pumpkin. If you look over the one eye you will see his scar. 

Our friends went all out again this year. They had their pirates but this year they added a dragon! 

This is one of the most adorable, young, attractive teachers at Andrew's school. She was hilarious to watch in the parade. I had to ask how she did the boobs. They were magnificently droopy yet still had bounce. She used balloons! Now you know. If you want realistic droopy boobs use balloons. 

Andrew in the parade

My sweet Nicole looking gorgeous as a skeleton.

Ariel and I getting ready for the class parties.

Another shot of the dragon. It was animated. It moved, growled and it breathed faux fire. 

I got to run a game in Andrew's class. The kids were all great sports and we had a ton of fun.

Emma with her candy.

Andrew and Devin with their candy.

The super cute candy bar holder his primary teacher had for him.

When Emma saw that Andrew had gotten more candy she asked me to drive her and Jenna around a little bit more. I was happy to oblige. I love Halloween and wished the night could have lasted longer. 

I can't believe it's over. I wish it could be Halloween everyday!