Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Afton's First Christmas



Well, we had a fabulous Christmas this year! I wanted to make it special, seeing as it's Afton's first Christmas, and at 9 months, she's old enough to at least participate. She sure liked the wrapping paper! Some people told me not to get her much cause she's too young. I blatantly ignored them. My baby girl needs toys! And she got them! We had a great time with both sides of the family. Isn't this outfit the cutest ever, by the way? A gift from Grandma Nielson! I was glad we spent some time with Trevor's Grandmas Luzenia, just newly widowed at this horrible time of year. I remember last year Grandpa was putting Christmas bows on his head and making the grandchildren giggle. We all missed him a lot this year--no one more than poor Grandma! Well, here are a few highlights from this season...

1. FOOD - We had some awesome food this season! I think I got a little crazy because Trevor and I have "decided" (meaning, we'll see when it happens) that we are going to eat healthy starting in January. So we pretty much gorged in December. We had Cindy's awesome macaroons, which I got pretty addicted to. I also made my standard quiche for Christmas--it's my Aunt Carm's recipe and it's AWESOME. I always make two of them, and we eat them at my mom's, and at Trevor's parents. Afterwards, there wasn't a lot leftover. So--well, I made ANOTHER one after Christmas and Trevor and I eat it every morning. I just wanted to be SURE there would be some weight to lose in January, 'cause I'm so skinny already...



2. PARTIES - We've had a lot of parties to go to! Or, just plain old "game nights" since we've gotten pretty board-game happy. We've spent a lot of time at our friend's Ryan and Anna's playing new games. Then we've played with the Snow's, my sister Jen and her family, and tonight we are playing with the Stoddart's! Then of course there was my Nielson Familiy party--which is absolutely CRAZY. Kids everywhere. Really loud. People screaming and laughing and crying and running into each other. And here is my darling baby sitting on "Santa's" lap!




3. THE TREE - I'm proud to say I got my tree up on Thanksgiving day (Trevor was gone the day after so we had to do it early!) and I got it DOWN on the 27th! I was SO ready to have my living room back! Mom gave me her old Christmas tree, complete with decorations, last year. So I actually have a darn cool Christmas tree. Afton was a big fan of the tree, though not as much as our stinkin' cats. Sometimes, I wish they'd both get run over. There's some Christmas Spirit for ya!

4. GIFTS - For me, I got a TON of good stuff! I'm so domestic! First, Trevor got me some gorgeous new pots and pans, and he got me a dehydrator, and my mother-in-law got me a breadmaker! I'm already obsessed, for all I've only made two loaves, and although they tasted good, they were all concave on top. Not sure why. I think the first time its because I used cold yeast, and the second time is because I used too much--well, I used what the recipe called for but since it rose huge and then POPPED, I suppose that's a hint. Trevor got us both Snuggies. Now I know that snuggies get a bad rap--but let me tell you. They rock. I LOVE MY SNUGGIE. I may look like a monk in it, but I care not! I'm a WARM monk!


Ok, and I also have to add this picture of my baby. Trevor got her this adorable Seahawks onsie, and she looks so cute in it! For Trevor's big present, he, of course, got another sword. This one is the Sword of Boromir. Now, if I didn't know my husband better, I would breathe a sigh of relief and think, "Well, he's got all the swords for every hero in the show now, so he'll be all done." No, that's just not how it is. Not when there are banners and helmets and shields and all kinds of other stuff. However, it DOES look pretty darn cool on the wall, so I don't complain too loudly. Oh--and in the picture--no, he's NOT slicing his mother in half...

5. TOYS - And last, I had to add a little video of my baby girl, playing with one of her toys. She has several that she loves, like the little piano from Grandma Rees, and the stacking toys from us. But the blocks she got from Grandma Nielson are also a big hit! This video is kinda long and maybe you'll find it boring after a few minutes, but I just couldn't cut it--I just think she's so cute! I love how she is just giggling!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What I SHOULD be doing...

Today I was going down the stairs and I saw my scriptures lying at the bottom of the stairs in a forgotten pile, where I'd put them last week after I hurried home from church, eager to feed the baby, get her down for a nap, and have a couple of minutes of silence. I didn't remember that I'd put them there. And the fleeting and brief thought crossed my mind, "yeah, I should read those."

The dreaded SHOULD. I hate the shoulds in life, and it seems that the older you get, and the more responsibility you take on, the more SHOULD's come along. Sometimes I get so tired of feeling guilty for all the things I SHOULD be doing.

*I should be reading my scriptures every night.
*I should remember to say my prayers every day.
*I should hold my baby longer before I put her down--I should be enjoying her more
*I should be calling so-and-so
*I should be getting those last Christmas presents
*I should be making dinner tonight instead of making my husband fend for himself--AGAIN.
*I should play with Afton longer
*I should be working on my scrapbook
*I should be trying to lose weight
*I should be trying harder to improve my lesson plans and raise test scores
*I should go to bed instead of stay on Facebook forever reading crap about people I haven't talked to in years

It goes on and on. And I guess that's good--I mean, imagine if you were a person WITHOUT shoulds? You'd never go to bed, never work, never improve yourself. You'd be like--well, like some of my junior high kids. I swear, some of those kids are TOTALLY lacking in shoulds. Like the boys the other day who HONESTLY believed their lives would be better if they didn't have to go to school. Seriously? Are you an idiot? Isn't there a SHOULD in there somewhere saying, "I should get an education" "I should make something of myself" "I should have some sort of purpose in life." But I digress.

Yes, I grow weary of the shoulds. Because I know I can't just throw them off and say, "I'm doing fine!" because then I would never improve. But guilt is so heavy sometimes. And I know that it's only going to get harder, as Trevor gets further into school and is gone more, and as the number of children in the house increase and the income DOESN'T, those shoulds are just gonna pile up until I'm totally smothered. I don't think you are ever free of shoulds, no matter what your age or situation in life. Though, sometimes it seems there are people in my life--people I don't know very well or intimately, who seem to be doing EVERYTHING right and have no shoulds at all. But I know they do. They MUST. Somewhere. Everyone has shoulds, right?

Still, I'm glad I have shoulds. If I didn't, my life would have no purpose or direction. Having shoulds means I know what's important, even if, at the moment, I'm not really doing it. Having shoulds means that I am assessing my life and making an analysis on how I'm doing. Some people have absolutely no ability to that. Well, it's 10:30...

*I should be going to bed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Here you go Cindy

My sister Cindy told me today that she's not sure why she has a link to my blog on her blog because I never update. I pointed out that I updated four days ago. Oh well. Maybe I don't have to wait for big things--I can just post for no real reason. So...here's a picture of my baby that I took today.



It's her official 9 month picture. I take a picture of her on the 15th every single month for her scrapbook. You know--maybe I'll just post them ALL?


Awww...isn't she the cutest EVER? I love to see the age progression--her hair just gets thicker and thicker with every picture. Maybe I'm biased, but I think I've got a darn cute little baby girl!

So there. I updated. *sticking tongue out*

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Passing of a Patriarch


So I've taken three days off work this week so that I could attend the funeral of Trevor's Grandpa Rees. He was an incredible man. Trevor comes from such an amazing family of strong, yet gentle and loving men. I didn't know Spencer very well, but he was always kind to me, and I know how much Trevor idolizes him. I know that he was a wonderful father--because he taught Trevor's dad, Stan, to be a wonderful father. And Trevor and his brother David are both following the tradition. It makes me hope fervently for a son of my own, so the tradition can pass on. It's a powerful legacy that Trevor comes from. We looked up his Grandma Violoa, Spencer's mother, one time on the church database. That line has been in the United States since the 1600's! I'm only a 4th generation here in the U.S., it's amazing to me that Trevor's family has been here so long.

It was a sad funeral. I have been to funerals before, but never one quite like this. Usually at the funerals of older people (Spencer was 89) there's a sort of "it's for the best" feeling, and you hear a lot of "He's in a better place," and "he was ready to go." Not the case for Spencer. Although his health was failing, no one thought he'd go so soon. He was so loved by his family, and clearly had a very personal relationship--not just with his children, but with each and every grand child. Although my four grandparents were (are) good people and they loved me, I don't think I had a relationship like that with them. I don't have a lot of one-on-one personal memories. I don't want to sound ungrateful, though. I spent time with them and enjoyed visiting them over the years, and I know that they knew me and loved me.

But the love this family had for him was so tangible. I didn't cry because I missed him--I didn't know him well enough for that. I cried because everyone ELSE was missing him so much. How could I not sob when I saw how heart-broken Spencer's wife of 65 years, Luzenia, was when she saw them close the casket? When she would just quietly sob suddenly, when her shoulders went slack as if she remembered anew that he was gone. Its the day every woman dreads--the day she is left alone. My heart just aches for poor Luzenia, and yet how lucky she was to have such an amazing husband, and to have him for so long!

Anyway, I wanted to dedicate a post to the man who made it possible for me to be happily married to the man of my dreams. His legacy is a part of Trevor--without him, Trevor wouldn't exist, and he wouldn't have the compassion, strength, and love that he is so blessed with. Spencer taught those lessons by the way he lived, and Stan learned them from him, and Trevor learned from both of them. Thank you Spencer. You are missed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Obligatory "Thankful" Post

So it's that time of year again. Everyone is always so darn thankful. At church, it seems like every single talk for the entire month of November is on "Being Grateful." Many of my friends have made a point to put a reason they are thankful in their status on Facebook. Really, we're all just waiting for the stinkin' holiday to be over so we can get on with Christmas. But then, I guess there is always a reason to pause and reflect--which clearly I haven't done this season. I realized a few days ago that all my posts this month have not only been ungrateful, they have been down-right negative. I don't take back anything I wrote--they were valid feelings and true ones. But...I guess it wouldn't kill me to do a positive, "grateful" post, because honestly, I have MANY things to be grateful for.

1. Lindt White Chocolate - What's not to love? You may wonder why I put this at the top of my list, and if that's the case YOU'VE NEVER HAD THEM. So addicting! And I wonder why I'm getting so fat...(no, I don't wonder. I know EXACTLY why I'm getting fat. I'm just refusing to do anything about it...)



2. My garage - Again, you may think this strange. But if you do, that's because you have either had a garage for so long you have forgotten how amazing they are, or you are like the previous owners of this house, who used it as an additional storage area. Not us. We pack both our cars in there, and it's a tight fit! But as I get up to go to work on a cold winter morning, I remember that I don't have to let the car warm up for thirty minutes, and I don't have to brush the snow off of it. Yes, I am VERY grateful for my garage. My whole house too, but let's not get sidtracked.


3. My Paycheck - I know that teachers are underpaid. I know that most of us are way over educated and making very little to show for it. I know that I am making less this year than I was last year, and I will probably be making even less than that next year. Who knows--maybe by 2012 I'll be paying THEM to work. (though one of my students informs me that the world is going to end that year, so I guess I shouldn't worry.) Still, despite how small it is, it is what is keeping us in this house. I am so grateful that I stuck it out in college, and was never tempted to give up. I'm so glad that I got a degree and have a job I love (most of the time!) which also allows me to help support the family while Trevor goes to school. So yes, despite how small it is for how much work I do, I'm grateful for it. Oh, and I guess for a college education, too. Thank goodness for pel grants.


4. Daycare. We were pretty stressed about daycare, wondering how we'd pay for it, especially after 7 months of unemployment. I stressed and stressed. We actually signed her up for a local daycare, but it was $500 a month! Reasonable, but still completely out of our price range. And then three wonderful women stepped forward to help me. I am grateful for my neighbor Brook, who watches Afton with as much love as if she were her own, two days a week. Brook's little girl is only six months older than Afton, and they are best friends! And then my wonderful mother-in-law, who added Afton to the brood of four she already had--my neices and nephew on Trevor's side. And then of course, my Mom, who takes her for free once a week and saves us money we so desperately need. I love them all so much!

5. Afton's Johnny Jump-Up. Man, what would I do without this thing?? I'm so glad Mom and Dad gave it to me to use for her. She LOVES it. She spends forever in it. Though she tends to poop a lot when she's in it. Still, it's worth it to have her happy, contained, safe, and busy while I get stuff done. And now she makes the CUTEST sounds while she's in it--Trevor and I just die laughing. She had no interest in her baby swing at all--what a waste of money--so I was so glad that there was SOMETHING that she likes. She's so good! Hooray for Johnny!





6. Reba. Ok, I'm not actually grateful, I'm pretty ticked. I got really addicted to the show Reba and I watched it every day when I got home from school. Like EVERY DAY. Like SEVERAL EPISODES. I was so grateful to Reba, because it was nice to have something to watch when I got home other than the formulaic and scripted Family Feud. And then? THEN? ION TELEVISION MOVED IT!!! TO 3:00!! DON'T THEY KNOW I DON'T GET HOME UNTIL 4:00??? And they replaced it with GHOST WHISPERER? (I liked it at first, and then it pretty much all became about how wonderful Jennifer Love Hewitt is, and then the ghosts tell her what to tell their relatives, and she totally paraphrases and leaves stuff out. Now, if YOU were communicating with a loved one who was dead, wouldn't you want to know what they said WORD FOR WORD? Stupid Jennifer. Reba is WAY better.)


7. My Friends. Generic, I know, but how can I NOT mention them? I have some seriously awesome friends. Like DeLayna--who comes over and we pig out and watch Battlestar or Star Trek or we just gab about everything from how fat we are/are not, were/will be, or serious political issues, or about nothing at all. She was with me when I went into labor, she counted the contractions with me. And then Heather, my favorite mission companion, who is always there for me and always so encouraging and kind. And hilariously funny! I have four awesome sisters who are best friends to me--so supportive, teasing, but loving too. When I grade the power points my students turn in (140 of them EVERY QUARTER!) they have a "friend" page, and some of them will go on and on about how MANY they have, and how they can't count them all. I've never been like that. But the friends I have I worth more than a thousand acquaintances. Some of them I've known all my life, others are new, and still others I've just reconnected with through Facebook. Yup, I am grateful for friends!


8. Divine Intervention. I am not one to bear my testimony on a public blog, so I won't go on and on I promise. But this year has been full of big changes, trials, ups and a lot of downs. How we were able to survive seven months unemployment, and then a huge pay cut when Trevor started working (yes, it IS more lucrative to be on unemployment than to work, apparently) plus a drop in my pay this year, is beyond me. Just when I thought we wouldn't make it, something always comes along and we have enough. If that isn't Divine intervention I don't know what is. And I don't even deserve it. I have't been to the temple in ages. I skip sacrament a lot, using the baby as an excuse. I haven't done my visiting teaching ONCE. And--worst of all--I have NO FOOD STORAGE! Not even a CAN! It's amazing the Lord can still love me.


9. Aquaphor. How have I missed this one until #9? We orginally bought it, of course, because of the baby. I got chapped lips in about August of '08 while pregnant, and they just didn't go away. I had chronic chapped lips my whole pregnancy. I mean BAD. I figured it was a pregnancy thing. After Afton was born, they STILL didn't go away. If you look closely at my family picture on my blog, you can tell I still had chapped lips--that was taken in August of '09! A whole YEAR of chapped lips! Can you imagine? Then the hygenist at the dentist office told me to use Aquaphor. It saved my life. Chapstick? NEVER AGAIN. I'm all about Auqaphor.


10. Ok, I'll do it. My family. Of COURSE I am grateful for my family! There's rarely a day that goes by that I don't have a thought somewhere along the lines of: "Why am I so lucky?" It was comforting to realize, when I was single, that marriage has nothing to do with deserving it, and everything to do with sheer dumb luck. If that weren't the case, then several of my single friends would have been married ten years ago. My husband is so perfect for me--he's annoying and stubborn and gorgeous and a total Lord of the Rings geek. But he's MY geek, and I love him with all my heart. As for my baby--well, she's absolutely the most beautiful, amazing thing I've ever seen. I am always fascinated with every little thing she does, and she is clearly the most amazing child that ever lived. Don't even try to rebutt that. I'll never believe you.


So there are 10 things I'm thankful for. I know some of them are silly--but sometimes those small things are what makes life bearable! So there you go--a POSITIVE post from me (though I couldn't stay totally positive when I got to Reba, but can you blame me? I mean, Ghost Whisperer?)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why Teachers Don't Care

When I first started teaching, I was apalled by the number of jaded teachers I saw. Women and men who do nothing extra--they come to work, teach the bare minimum, and get their paycheck. They don't go the extra mile, they hate their jobs, and they become total jerks. I had teachers like that in Junior High, and I've seen many like that in my work. I did not want to become like that. I was enfused with the excitement of my new career--planning activities for my students that took extra time, but were so good for them and taught them on a higher level. I didn't care that it took me hours more to prepare. And then I started the ballroom program at my school. The first year I did it completely for free-just because I wanted to. I wanted to give some kids what was given me--confidence at an age where it is so desperately needed. I knew that ballroom was a great way of doing that. My second year I was paid for my ballroom program--not much, but I was happy to get it. I took great joy in what I was doing. It was extra work, sure, but it was worth it. I watched these kids grow and learn and start to become a different person.

But now, after six years of teaching, I'm starting to turn into one of THOSE teachers. And I'm starting to figure out why they get that way. Of course there's just the wear and tear that Jr. high kids give you--you seem them making the same mistakes over and over again, and they never seem to learn. They move on to high school and most of the time we never see them again--we never see the finished product. We just get another batch of adolescents making the same mistakes the previous batch did, and it just seems lik the never learn. The DO, we just don't see it. Then you get a family, and you realize that every extra minute you are spending beyond your contract time is a minute away from them. And you wonder--why am I giving so much to someone else's kids instead of my own? Then you get some random cruel letter from a parent, and you feel like throwing up your hands and saying, "Why do I bother?"

And now, I feel like the school itself is against me. I get the feeling from my "superiors" that my extra work is nothing more than an annoyance for them--it might mean an extra signature or a minute or two of planning or making some phone calls. It's too much work FOR THEM. They'd rather I just don't bother. Purchasing rules in my district seem to be set up just for that reason--to deter any teacher from trying to provide a great experience for kids. No, just stack 'em deep and teach 'em cheap. 'Cause apparently the goal of my district is to take away anything fun for kids and give it to the high schools. Make junior high suck as much as possible.

I'm so tired of banging my head against this wall. I'm tired of going the extra mile and getting nothing for it. No apprecation from my boss, my district, the parents, or even the students. They forget--they don't even realize what you've done. They just take, use, and forget. They might realize years later what you've done and even thank you--I had a student and her parents in just two days ago thanking me for my ballroom program--but it's hard to continue justifying all this work.

And so what do I do? I drop all extra work. I come, get my paycheck, and go home. It's easier for everyone that way, isn't it? The kids might not get as rich of an experience or education, but does that REALLY matter, when compared to the prospect of inconveniencing other people or rocking a few boats? Teachers can't afford to care. If we care, there is always some rule or regulation to prevent us from doing something great. And parents complain, and who knows what kind of accusations could fly? That's not a risk I can afford to take.

I'm done. No more ballroom next year. Maybe I'll even drop the talent show. I can't afford to care anymore. I'll do the bare minimum--it's the same paycheck, after all.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Your Online Integrity

Grrr...

I'm having a hard day.

We got this unfair bill in the mail this morning. It threw me. I'm sure you've all been there--so financially tight you can't buy a new shirt or an extra gallon of milk, and just when you think you are gonna make it, you get some unexpected bill. I was REALLY mad. I felt it was totally unfair and almost sketchy, what they were charging.

And then I did something stupid. I turned to the peas. Why? Why do I keep forgetting what jerks are on that site? It's an online message board with traffic from people all over the U.S. and abroad. If you have a question, there is bound to be SOMEONE with the answer. There have been times when I got some really good insights and points of view I hadn't considered when consulting with the peas. (The website is twopeasinabucket.com and all the posters on it are refered to as "peas.")

Now of course, there are people who are chronic posters. People who MUST be glued to their screen 24/7 because they have thousands of posts and they remember everything about you if you post. It's really creepy. I'm sure the majority of them or normal--but you know, the crack-pots always post fifty times more than everyone else.

So I posted about this bill, and I was shocked at the cruel, judgemental and out and out rude comments I got. Most of them were fine--I might not have agreed with them, but they were giving their opinions about the subject at hand, and that's what I want. And then you get the jerks--the people who seem to have nothing better to do than pick apart everything you say and take exception to it--making awful comments that make you cry. And don't bother defending yourself--this will cause ten other jerks to sniff out the drama and come after you.

This is what happened to me today. I was a gold fish in a sea of piranas. Same thing happened the last two times I posted, which was like the only time I've posted all year. I feel just awful. It's amazing the toxic atmosphere a few comments can make, and though I know I should just ignore it, it's not in my nature to do so. I'm not used to dealing with openly rude people--and I teach junior high for heaven's sakes! Even JUNIOR HIGH kids have better manners than these people.

And then I thought--this woman who made this comment--she could be the parent of a student. She could be my next door neighbor. She could be that lady helping me at the store. She could be ANYBODY, because when you are online, speaking to strangers under a false name--you can be ANYONE. What kind of integrity do you really have when no one knows who you are, and there are no reprecussions for your behavior? How many of these catty women are sitting at church on Sunday, serving up dinner to a gaggle of smiling children, or teaching kindergartners their ABC's? They aren't some ugly depressed psychopath--they are normal people who have figured out that HERE is a place where they can REALLY say what they think.

What kind of online integrity do I have? Am I tempted to make that snarky comment, because I know no one who matters can call me on it? Am I the kind of person who would seek out an opportunity to hurt someone, just because I CAN? Disagreement is one thing, but personal attacks are another entirely. I am glad to say I never done this, though I have done it in retaliation. Which I shouldn't do, no matter how tempting. Just as I don't know THEM, they don't know ME. They can make all kind of judgements about me based on the one paragraph of information they have. And I can do the same--one snarky comment, and I'm certain they are visible jerks to all. But maybe they aren't. Maybe they are normal people having a bad day. (Though I STILL can't beleive that...) I can't change my ignorance--I can't know. But I CAN make sure that my own online integrity is not compromised.

And I probably ought to start by boycotting the site entirely. I simply can't take the temptation to strike back. This is not the first time I have made this resolution, but a year goes by and I find myself wandering back out of sheer boredom. It is in my nature to forgive easily and not hold grudges, but that downside to that is that I literally FORGET what wrongs have been done me. And I tend to walk into the same trap more than once. Well, I hope I've learned. And I hope I can make my own resolution to be the same person online as I am every day.

Well I feel better now. They got me so riled up, and I knew that if I responded anymore it would just get worse. So now I feel better having expressed myself without interuption. Ignore this post--its more for me than you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Useless Talents

In junior high I remember that the kids who had physical talents got a lot of attention. I was sometimes one of them--whenever I felt self-conscious, I would pull out paper and pencil and start drawing. And then I'd make sure someone saw it and BAM--immediate acceptance. Well, to an extent. Until my inherant ability to irritate got in the way. (I've seen few 7th graders in my career that are more annoying than I was at the age--but there have been a few...)

Now I teach junior high and I see the same thing. The kids with talents for athletics, music, dance, and art get attention. Everyone praises how wonderful and talented they are. We just had auditions for the school musical, and I had a hand in casting it. At the rehearsal today, I sensed a reverence the other kids seemed to feel when around the leads--they were talented.

It's strange how those things can not only matter very little when you become an adult, but can also become a detriment. It's easy to get sucked in to the selfish world of music and drama--which requires so much time and gives nothing practical in return--only the self-satisfaction of feeling good. I suppose that must be addicting, and a part of me longs for it--standing on a stage, the world at my feet, with all in awe of my talent. But then I realized two things: I'm not that good, and I'm too practical to go that way. Basically, unless you are really lucky, physical talents don't get you jack in the long run. I'd rather be good at Math, or have a knack for making money. Yeah--I want THOSE talents...

It made me think of the physical talents I have been blessed with. I have many physical talents and I'm mediocre at all of them. Which is actually fine with me. I discovered art first--drawing in church, and on every scrap of paper I could muster. Here's a picture I drew in the 4th grade. I value this greatly, as it's the earliest drawing of mine that I have.

Drawing sustained me for years--I spent most of my youth improving my skill, finally settling on a Disney style I can't get out of, as a result of an obsession for the Little Mermaid in the 7th grade. If you knew me then, you know what I'm talking about!

Over the years as I've gotten older, drawing has become less and less important. In fact, the only time I draw at all is when I'm bored--in church or in meetings, sometimes in school assemblies. It's a way out of boredom and no more. And actually I like it that way. I had no real desires to become "an artist" not after my sister Cindy told me when I was five that "artist's starve." Stark but true, and apparently I listened. My only outlet now is occasionally working on my paper doll set--I have several that I work on. I've made paper dolls ever since I can remember, and it's something I still enjoy from time to time. One day, Afton is going to have a KILLER set.

I just scanned these in--this set has 12 different dolls and over 200 outfits! I started thet set in 1998, and I just keep making new dolls and new clothes and throwing out the old. The pink dress was actually designed by my neice Millie (6) who told me what she wanted and then I created it. She was thrilled.


Other talents? I went through a writing stage. It started in 8th grade when I went thorugh one of those periods where all my friends hated me. I was lonely so I started a book. And actually finished it two years later. Sucks, but it's finished. Then I wrote another one my senior year. And then I started a third before my mission and finished it when I got home. That one, Gifted, is actually quite good and I wish I could publish it, but I have no aspirations to be a writer, and therefore no real motivation to go through the hell that is publishing a first novel. I've written poetry here and there, and short stories. But always I knew that I just wasn't a natural--I just liked to do it for a hobby and nothing more.

Singing. Discovered this one in 9th grade. I have a good voice, once a solid voice, and was thrilled when I found I could sing. But it's proved to be a rather useless talent as well. I'm no where near good enough to be the lead in a play, and teaching has completely ruined my voice anyway. I got nodules on my vocal chords after a breif stint in Little Shop of Horrors, which I had to drop, and my voice has never really been the same since. Now I can hardly sing in church after a week of teaching my classes and ballroom. There goes that.

Which brings me to my last talent--dance. Again--not one I'm all too good at. I danced on a ballroom team in high school--more for the social life and the high of performing than for a love of the art. If I'd known I'd end up teaching it in junior high, maybe I would have bothered to learn it better. Dance is one of the most useless talents of all--there is NO future in it.

So here I am, this artsy fartsy girl with mediocre gifts--and where have they gotten me? Why do we give such praise to them, when they are impractical and so impossible to make a career out of? I'm better of with my computer knowledge, my talent for teaching and handling students--they have been far more useful to me than singing or dancing or any of the others. But I guess it's those little talents that make life interesting--that give you a little something more to offer, to spice up your life. As always, my practical nature wins out. I'm glad I was given these gifts--and I'm even MORE glad that I'm only mediocre at them. I don't want them for a career--I want them to be dessert--something I dabble in occasionally for pure fun rather than to make money.

I suppose no talent is truly USELESS, so long as we are learning from it. It's not like all those years and money spent on ballroom are wasted because I'm not on Dancing with the Stars. I learned to socialize--I changed from that obnoxous 7th grader so a slightly more tolerable 9th grader, to the amazing humble person I am today ;) But still, I see talents in my students that they don't even know they have, or don't really appreciate. They are wasting their time wishing they could sing better or dance like that girl or play football as good as so-and-so. And in ten years, it won't really matter who was the better singer. There are those rare shining exceptions who manage to make a career out of their physical talents, but the rest of us are ordinary people living ordinary lives, and the talent for just getting through it with a smile on your face is far more prized.

Anyway, I'm done now. What is with the long thoughtful posts?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Waxing Philosophic About Teachers/Parents

Tonight I was at my school doing the audition callbacks for the school musical. We had a parent come, very upset about some issues with her child. I was not the one under fire--but it made me think about the whole parent/teacher relationship in the public school system.

In elementary school they're all friends. Parents come to help in the classroom--they read with their kid and other kids, help with math, and do all sorts of things to make the teacher's life easier. It's a wonderful partnership--and much needed. I subbed enough for elementary school teachers to know that they have it as rough as we junior high teachers do, if in a different way. I guess it depends on what kind of "rough" you can handle. They get no breaks! They can't get stuff done while their kids work! If they mess up, their kids CAN'T READ. I mean, they have a tough job.

Anyway, then Junior High comes along. And suddenly the parent is the enemy. We don't want them in our rooms, and they don't want to be there either. They don't know how to handle the swearing, the crowded hallways, the chance that there will be a confrontation with a student. They don't know the advanced subject, they just don't seem to BELONG. We don't want them to know how much we get frustrated, how often we have to yell, and listen to any critism from someone who just doesn't understand. We don't really know what to DO with them. I imagine it must be a shock for them, this sudden change in attitude. I guess one day I'll find out.

Most parents I deal with are awesome. I'd say about 95%. And honestly, I have very little interaction with them other than an occasional email, a phone call with a question, parent teacher conferences. I teach an easy exploratory class, where most kids get an A to a B. I have very few parents mad at me. I really feel for those Math teachers, man. I make a point of answering every parent email immediately, I try to be as respectful as I can. I know they've got a tough job too, raising teenagers.

But parents can really be the enemy sometimes--I try not to feel that way, but every now and then you have an experience that just makes you wonder why you bother. On Monday we had play auditions--I was there from 7:00 to 5:00. Then I drove home, gulped down some food, picked up Afton, and returned to school for our Literacy Night. (you are supposed to bring your families to it.) I was tired, hungry, and cranky. I had a baby to take care of. I had to be at a booth all night and take pictures of the event, and I had let my battery run down in my camera and had to run to my classroom to get it. They blocked all the hallways and the only way to get to my classroom was through the libary--where a line of parents and students extended forever, waiting to get their Fablehaven books signed by Brandon Mull, who was visiting our school. I was tired, hot, and overwhelmed. I tried to get past the line to get to the far doors that woudl lead me to my hallway. A student was standing in my way and I called out, "Excuse me!" she didn't hear me. I raised my voice, trying to get my massive baby stroller past her. Again she didnt' hear me so I raised my voice again. I imagine I sounded exhasperated. I didn't want to just tap her with the stroller. And some old bat mother says, "Just CALM DOWN!" (telling someone to calm down, by the way, is a SURE FIRE way to wind them up even further...) I turned to her and apologized, saying something incoherant about how I had to get through to get my battery. "WELL," She says again, totally rude, "You can just calm down!" I turned again and said I was sorry. A student next to her nudged her and said under her breath, "She's a teacher!" I didn't have my badge on, see. Then she says it AGAIN all rude. And I got all quiet and said, "i'm sorry--I've just really worked hard for tonight," (and I HAD. I'd made the passports we used on Photoshop, printed 800 copies, sliced them into fourths, made the posters for the school, etc) And then I left. And started crying. Because I'd worked so hard, for free, to make that night possible, to help with the school play, to do ballroom team--all this stuff, and some old BAT yells at me like that? I was so upset. It's parents like that that I dread. (CLEARLY it's been a long time since SHE had to maneuver a stroller...)

Do parents realize that we are PEOPLE? That they can cause us just as much emotional damage as we can cause their kids--MORE? I had an email from a parent once--totally unprovoked, totally unfair, which accused me of everything from being the worst teacher in the school to destroying her daughter's confidence. She even threatened to get me fired. Why? No idea. Had her student 3rd quarter, (this was the end of the year) and she got an A. Never had a trouble with her. Not a THING. It was such an awful email I went into my back room and cried for twenty minutes. I called one of the administrators who talked me through it. And to this day, every time I open a parent email I think of taht woman--I remember those awful, cruel words. I'm afraid it's another one like that. It doesn't matter that she later apologized, that she spoke to one of my former students who praised me to the skies and explained what kind of teacher I really was. It doesn't matter that she was wrong and admitted it. I've been emotionally damaged. I'm terrified of parents. And her kid is FINE.

It's a scary profession. Good thing I love teaching. I love being in front of these students, being a part of their lives, having an influence over even small aspects of their world. I am fascinated to watch them become who they are going to be. They come to visit you from the high school and they've grown so tall and gotten so grown up. It's the beautiful thing about my job. But parents scare the tar out of me.

Sorry. This was SO LONG.

Friday, October 30, 2009

And Here She Is!

And here's the lady who needs no further introduction than...


ROCK LOBSTER!!!


(I posted it on Facebook, too, but not everyone checks that, and EVERYONE has to see how cute my baby girl is!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

10 Random Things - And it's not even a "tag"

So I'm super boring. I've been thinking for weeks now that I need to update my blog, but can't think of a single thing to write about. Am I that boring? Do I really have nothing interesting going on in my life? Do I just not think deeply about anything? So I thought I'd just make a list of random thoughts...

1. I'm at school right now. Today my kids are working on their power points (though right now it's my prep and my room is empty, hooray!) I love power point days. The kids work and I play and it's awesome.

2. I spent most of yesterday (another power point day) designing buttons. I'm getting kind of obsessed. I bought a badge-making machine or a class project, and instead of making soap, now the kids make badges. So I made a bunch of designs. Sometimes I make them and put them in a candy jar, and when the kids are good they get to pick one. Here's a few designs I made:


3. Afton REFUSES to roll over. I'm not exactly worried about it so much as annoyed. With Nicki's baby Tyson--18 hours younger--already crawling, and Kelly's baby Jenna, three months YOUNGER--already rolling, I'm wondering why the crap my baby is so lazy. She's done it before. But she just forgot how. Yesterday we put her on her stomach and watched her squirm like a slug and whine like a hyenna until we finally had pity and sat her up. All she really wants to do is sit up, all the time. And she's very good at THAT at least. She's drooling like no other now, and gets her whole front soaking wet. Sweet baby.

4. There's this kid I know from ages ago who won't add me as a friend on Facebook. In fact, I think he blocked me. I'm SO annoyed. What the hell? He's friends with other friends of mine. We used to be good friends. But we HAVE kissed before. Think his wife won't let us be friends or what? Makes me mad. Stupid kid. As if I'm a threat now. If THAT is the rule, then he can't be friends with half the girls who went to BYU...I feel better now.

5. Everyone is sick. Last week in ballroom team I had SIX KIDS not show up because they're sick. What do you say to that? Of course they can't come--but what's the point of holding a rehearsal? I'm afraid we won't be ready to perform by January 6th--especially if they all keep missing. Last year NO ONE ever missed. What the crap?

6. I'm reading Fablehaven right now. It's awesome. I highly reccommend it--especially if you are a Harry Potter fan. I'm meeting the author next week! (like everyone else in Utah...)

7. Grr... I'm getting SO fat. I'd thank DeLayna for the clothes she gave me the other day that saved my bacon, but she never checks my blog. (Do you Del? Come out come out! I DARE you to leave a comment and reveal yourself!)

8. This weekend I'm going to a baby sealing for my friend Heather. Her little boy is being sealed to them on Halloween! I'm very excited (if excited ist he right word--maybe honored is better) because I know it will be amazing. Going to her daughter Holland's sealing was one of the most amazing things I've ever been a part of in the temple.

9. I'm pretty sure I lost my ballroom shoes. But I haven't really looked, because if i do then I won't find them and then they'll REALLY be lost. I do that a lot, and I lose things a lot. And I wait so long to look that by the time I do I've forgotten all surrounding events that might have helped me find it. This includes the $600 camera in my backroom. Put it there end of the year last year, now it's gone. Did I lose it? Did someone steal it? Who knows. Gotta file a report on that. And yes, I've told my administrators. Racked my brains, and all I can remember thinking is, "Where can I put this where no one will find it?"

10. Next weekend we're going over to our friends Ryan and Anna's to play games. I love going there. Ryan buys games by the crate and sells them for way cheap at Christmas time. Every time we go over there we play the newest coolest board games. We are in the market for a new game this Christmas! I wonder what we'll get?

That's all for today. I hope you enjoyed my ranting. I gobble up my friends' blogs so quickly--check it every morning and I'm so happy when there's an update (aren't I pathetic?) so here's something for all four of you that read this. Hooray!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The biggest jerk in West Jordan...that I know....

Ok so here's my story. I'm going to try to be as fair as I can here. But I'm telling you, I think I just met the BIGGEST JERK COP in all of West Jordan.

So tonight around 9:00 p.m. Trevor and I are driving along 1300 West to go to my sister sister's house to pick up our baby. The street my sister lives on is one that you can miss really easily. I've done it many times. Plus it's dark. Trevor says, "Did I miss the street?" and I say, "no...it's right here!"

Trevor has to touch his breaks a bit to slow down, but as he was going about 35 in a 35 MPH zone, not very hard. He makes a sharp turn onto Jen's street. Trevor had already noticed there was a car behind us that was tailgating us. He got even closer after the turn. Then the guy turns on his brights at us. Trevor tapped his breaks to let the guy know that he was too close. We were only a few hundred yards after the turn at this point. So after Trevor taps his breaks, on come the cop lights. We were stunned.

I say to Trevor, "How fast were you going? You weren't speeding!" And Trevor said he knew he was going the speed limit. So this cop walks up to the window. I never even saw his face. He says, "What's going on tonight?"

I say (and honestly, I did NOT have a mean tone, I was genuinely confused) I said, "I hope you can tell us officer..." and then he absolutely flips out. Rips into me like NO OTHER. Tells me to not give him lip, and that he can give us a ticket and he doesn't want to hear from me, and asks Trevor to step out of the car. What? I was so confused. Then he rips into me some more. I was having the hardest time with this. I'd never been treated like that by a cop before.

So he asks Trevor how fast he was going, and Trevor said he knew he was going 35. The guys says, all superior, "You were going 31. And then you were going only 5" (Cause duh, we'd just taken a turn you idiot...) and he goes on about how Trevor shouldn't have taken a hard turn, and then driven so slow, and then that he tapped his brakes, which causes "road rage" (yeah, obviously...) Then he wants our story, and Trevor starts to explain and I said along with him, "he thought he missed the turn," and the guys absolutly flips out again. Something like, "I don't need your LIP! You have TWO CHOICES! I can give your husband a ticket or you can stop talking back blah blah blah." I say nothing. He says "Well?" And I start crying and saying I didn't want to say anything for fear I'd say the wrong thing.

Then he asks where we're going. Says he lives in the neighborhood. We say to pick up our daughter. "Where?" "Just down the street." "Which house?" (Can you BELEIVE THIS??) Then Trevor says to get our baby from my sister and gives her name. "I know her," he says. "I know her other sister too, the one in Sandy," and Trevor says their names. It was like he didn't believe we were who we said we were. How could I be sister to such nice upstanding people when I'm clearly a no-account with an attitude. (Oh, yes, he also accused me at some point for having an attitude...grrr..)

So then he gives Trevor this long lecture about driving safe and how he's just doing his job and finally lets us go. I was so upset. We went to my sister's, and she was surprised by he behavior. He's in her ward. He's in the young men's presidency. She thinks he's a SALT LAKE cop, and might not be a traffic cop. If he's out of his jurisdiction, can he write a ticket? Well, maybe if we did something to warrant it, and it did seem like he was doing everything he could to provoke us.

I was just crying when I told my sister about it. I felt like I'd been verbally abused and totally didn't deserve it. Trevor did NOTHING WRONG. When he brighted us, that was the first act of agression. Trevor simply warned him to back off. And he pulls us over for THAT? Trevor is considering filing a complaint. What do YOU think? Am I totally out of line here?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My Digital Scrapbooks--So Far.


So my friend Lisa posted some of her digi-scrap pages on her blog, and I thought I'd do the same. It made me very excited to share what I've been working on! This year has been harder, because I'm working on TWO books instead of one. I'm doing my yearbook, as always, for the year 2009. Which, sad to say, I'm a little behind on. Not too bad, but still behind. And then I'm doing Afton's first year book, which is getting ridiculously long. It's already 60 pages, and I'm only on her 6th month. It's gonna COST ME to get it printed! Well, it'll be around $120 is my guess, maybe more. Not too bad, really. Anyway, for Afton's book I couldn't find a digi-kit that suited my baby girl, so I made my own! My first kit! It's kinda primitive-there's a lot of stuff people do in digital kits that amaze me and I have no idea how they do it. But what I've got works! I print my books from a company called Cherishbound, which binds them in a regular 8 1/2 x 11 size. So these are the two pages together.

Here are some pages from Afton's book:







And here are a few pages from my regular yearbook:



The pioneer day one is the last page I did--so I'm still behind by several months! How am I going to do this with multiple children???
Anyway, it's an awesome hobby to have and I love it. It's still a lot easier than regular scrapping. I just hate how I cut up all my pictures back in the olden days. I have a post all about it if you care to read it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Saga of Titus

This is my cat, Titus.


He's a very frustrating cat. Last year I desperately wanted a second cat, because our current cat, Tarzan, only loved my husband and not me. I wanted a cat to love ME. I was five months pregnant, and I was very stupid. If I had just waited a few months, I would have realized that once the baby came, I could care less about any cats.

Regardless, we got a cat. He lived next door to my mom, and every time we came over he was so friendly and sweet. One time Tarzan stayed over there for a weekend while we were on vacation, and the two of them played and played. We thought, "wow! A cat Tarzan likes and gets along with! Wish he were ours!" When they neighbors found out we felt that way, they offered him to us. Said that it was their daughter's cat and she was getting married to an allergic guy. So after a week of Trevor ho-humming, not sure (I was totally sure) we brought him home.

Big Mistake.

Now I'm going to take a page out of Leslie's book and just list it all out.

Why I love this cat:

  • He's super friendly. All the neighbors know and like him. He goes into their houses. Sometimes in the middle of the night through the dog door.
  • He's NICE. He never scratches unless seriously provoked. When kids come over, we tell them to pet Titus, not Tarzan--who would as soon kill them and bury them in the backyard.
  • He has some funny habits. Like he goes on walks with us. (Well, Tarzan does too...) He does some pretty funny things. He likes dogs, and he likes other cats too.
  • He's cuddly. He will always let you pet him, likes to jump up on your chest and lay there, and will sleep with you--though he tends to lay down in weird places, or just wants to sleep on your chest or your side.

Why this cat is sometimes a demon from hell:

  • He sheds like no other. His fur is everywhere. The stairs are COVERED in it. He's way worse than Tarzan. Drives me crazy.
  • HE NEVER SHUTS UP. This cat meows constantly. I mean ALL THE TIME. In the middle of the night especially. And he doesn't want anything--he just wakes you up and meows and meows, and he doesn't want you to pet him or feed him or let him out. He just wants to be annoying.
  • He's not bright. At all. The cat is incapable of learning anything. All attempts to train him have failed. When you squirt water at him, he just looks at you like "what?"
  • He TERRORIZES Tarzan. They used to play all the time. Then Afton came and Tarzan decided he was done being friends. Hates him. But Titus doesn't care. He still attacks him at every opportunity, which results in huge cat fights in the middle of the house. I mean, screaming yowling cat fights from one room to the next.

So what do you do? Do you put up with this for the next fifteen years until one of them croaks? Honestly, since having a baby--I could care less about having cats at all. If they were both gone tomorrow I'd jump for joy. It's amazing how little pets can mean to you after you have a family. And we realized pretty quick that the family we got him from was just trying to get rid of him. Their daughter actually got ANOTHER cat after we took Titus!! Can you believe that??

So yesterday, I got desperate. I have begged Trevor to let me put Titus up on KSL. He IS a good pet, and would be great for another family. One with kids, or dogs, or a house full of deaf people. He's been pretty adamant about me not doing it. I don't see why--I mean, it's not like we're taking him to the humane society where he might get put down! We're finding a home for him that will be a better fit!

So I just DID IT. I put up an ad yesterday morning. I even mentioned that he's not bright and that he's very vocal. I really didn't think anyone would call. I planned on telling Trevor as soon as he called on his way home from work. But then things got crazy and I totally forgot.

So how does he find out? Yikes. We're at the store, with Henry and the baby, and my phone rings. I'm paying for the items so I hand my phone to Trevor. He answers it, then looks at me with this betrayed look on his face and says, "You put Titus on KSL?" AHH!!!! He plays it totally cool and talks to the guy, who says he'll talk to his wife and call us back.

We get in the car, and I say, "On a scale of one to ten, how made are you?" He says "10." OUCH.

I see now that I really should not have done this.

So when the guy calls back, I just tell him that my husband didn't know I put him up and isn't ready to give him up. I mean, he was gonna come from ROY to see him. I felt so bad being an Indian-giver like that. AND I CAME THIS CLOSE TO GETTING RID OF HIM!!! DAMNIT!!!!

So now we're back to square one. Still have Titus. Trevor forgave me, because he's amazing that way, but I really don't think he'll let me put him on KSL again. But it's good to know that if we ever DO decide to get rid of him, it won't be hard to find him a good family. Am I a jerk? Please! Tell me what you think!(If you've gotten this far. This post is a novel...) What would YOU do?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Guilt

So, there's a lot to feel guilty about in this life. Guilty for every naughty, sweet-tasting thing you put in your mouth. Guilty for every minute you spend on the computer or watching TV instead of doing laundry or the dishes. Guilty for the moment you realize your husband came home after a long day and it never even OCCURRED to you to make dinner. And then there's mom-guilt. My sister Cindy once said that Guilt is the Wal-Mart Greeter of Motherhood--it's there to meet you the moment you enter. And it's very true. I feel guilty for every moment I don't cherish, or get distracted, or spend away from her, or foist her on to Trevor so I can get something done.

Oh! And we haven't even gotten to CHURCH guilt. There's always that. I mean, there's real guilty for real sins--which is necessary and an important step. But it always seems like you are missing something. I feel guitly when I don't read my scriptures (though, strangely, not guilty enough to actually pick them up and read them regularly...hense, more guilt) I feel guilty if I'm not praying often, or I skip an hour of church, or I remember that not only did I not do my visiting teaching this month but--oh yeah. I NEVER do. And there's food storage guilt. Not a very strong guilt, but it does tend to nag.

So I ask myself--with all this guilt around my neck, do I really need to feel guilty about one more thing? Namely, "I haven't updated my blog in forever!!" I say unto you, nay.

That is all.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Turtle Hurdle

ACK! I hate the pressure of coming up with cute and original titles for my blog posts! It's killing me! Darn you Cindy! It's all your fault--you're so good at it!

That said, we do have a turtle. And we are not sure what to do about it. I suppose that's where the hurdle come in.

Trevor calls me down to come out to the backyard to see something. I see something moving over by the shed. I say, "Is it a rat?" no, it moves to slow. Phew. I say, "Is it a kitten?" this time much more excited. But then if it were a kitten it would be hiding somewhere. No, it's a turtle. THIS turtle.




















What does one do with a wild turtle? Or IS it wild? Is it some cast-off pet that has been living in the backyard for a hundred years? (Well, they say turtles live a long time...)

We call him Snaps.

So what is Snaps' story? Was he once spied in the window of a pet shop, catching the eye of a little boy who begged to take Snaps home? And was he then ripped from said home when the little boy moved, forced into the unfriendly wilderness of the backyard, to live on nothing but grass and snails and pork. Ok, not pork. But grass and snails. Do turtles eat snails?

Anyway, we aren't sure how Snaps came to be in our backyard, and we are even less sure what to do about him. So we googled it. Apparently he can live on his own back there very well, and can burrow down in the winter to keep warm. Well, to keep cold actually. He is a reptile, after all. So after "snapping" some pictures and making sure Afton got a peep (but not a touch--we aren't THAT stupid) we put snaps back where we found him.
I don't know if I will ever see Snaps again. But I'll know--he's out there...somewhere...lurking, burrowing, living...it will take him a lifetime just to get from the shed to the front lawn, so I'm pretty sure Snaps will always be with us, whether we see him or not. You fine, brave, lonely survivor. You are an inspiration to us all. Here's to you, Snaps.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The First Week Back

I love the first week back at school. I do. Even though it's hard to say goodbye to summer, there is something exciting about new studets, a new year, with so many new things to try and new experiences ahead of you. I get a thrill walking down the hallways, seeing the 7th graders looking lost and terrified and excited. I even like to see the 8th and 9th graders back from the summer looking sometimes so much older than the last time I saw them.

This year, of course, has been a bit harder because of Afton. Usually I get bored about mid-July and I'm totally ready to be back. But this year it was a real stretch to leave her. Thank goodness I love my job and am so busy there I don't think about much else. The first day I showed a power point introducing my class, and I added a few family photos to introduce myself. Never done that before. I guess I just wanted to show Afton off. I had to show them THIS. How could I not? And each period I showed it, when her picture came up, I had a little lump in my throat.

So I thought I'd just post my thoughts from the first week. It's been a tough start--we have a new principal, new VP, new office sectretaries, plus the split has made things a little uncertain as far as funding and money and pay. Everyone is on edge, nervous, and even angry. We are all making less money--even the administrators--and yet the work stays the same. Plus we've added late-start Fridays. It was pretty crazy today. The kids don't come until 10:00, so when lunch hit no one was sure where to go. But it was nice being able to have collaborative time with my teams.

I find myself feeling renewed and excited, though. I am loving teaching my classes. I am taking greater pleasure in it than I have in a long time. Maybe it's because my neice and nephew are now in junior high, and I can picture each student as if they are THEM. I want to treat my students the way I want their teachers to treat them. I just hope I can hold on to my new-found enthusiasm. Sometimes it feels like the powers that be are trying to suck everything fun and worthwhile out of my job. But when I stand up in front of those kids--it's almost like I'm home. It's where I belong. How lucky I am to have a job I love so much. And I have to admit--I'm pretty damn good at it!

Monday, August 17, 2009

What Little Girls are Made Of

So it's here! Afton has her petti skirt at last! As you may or not know, my brilliant sister Cindy has learned this new skill of creating these skirts, and she has made one for every single grand daughter--and seeing as the way we produce granddaughters in this family, that's no small feat! Now Afton's is finished, and it's the last of them--though apparently Cindy will be making many more. Read about it here on her blog.
So here it is! I dressed Afton up and took a bunch of pictures outside. Unfortunatly I chose to do this right before her nap so she wasn't really in the mood for it.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

He's a Workin' Man

So I'm sure by now you've all heard the big news that TREVOR HAS A JOB. We are so excited, and I are so proud of him! He will be working at the University hospital, in the post anesthesiology unit. It's pretty cushy in both the job and hours he's required to work, and they will work with his school schedule and pay half-tuition after he's been there six months. Apparently a lot of people tried for it, and I'm so proud of Trevor getting it! Getting on at a hospital when you are a first-time CNA is pretty hard, I guess. And he did it all on his own--he didn't use any contacts or pull any strings--he got this all by himself. The pay is crap--really crap--but we knew that. Let's just hope that my job will let me work a 7th period next semester--that will save our bacon.

As for me, school is drawing closer and closer, and each day that goes by is so precious and fast. Soon I'll be leaving my baby girl with other people, and no matter how much they love her, they aren't ME. It's going to be so hard. I keep telling myself that at least I love my job--at least once I get to work I am so busy and engaged in what I do that I won't have time to pine. At least--that's how it was when I went back for four weeks at the end of the school year. But I knew, then, that it was only four weeks and I'd be home again. Now it will be nine months. My poor baby girl--she's had both her Daddy and her Mommy home with her every day since she was born. I hope she doesn't have too hard a time adjusting!

I am pretty nervous for school this year. So many changes at Elk Ridge. New principal, new vice principal, new head secretaries in attendance and the main office, a split district and probably a huge pay cut for me as well as a tax increase. Plus I'll be teaching extra classes, doing ballroom after school, all the responsibilities with being Department Chair, and I'm starting a new massive unit this year that will take a lot of planning and testing. And then of course, trying to make ends meet--which isn't looking too possible right now. Urg. Trevor and I have been in a happy little bubble for a very long time, and now we are back to reality. It sucks. Still, I've spent more time with him over the past few months than a woman spends with her husband in a year, and we still love each other, so that's got to be a good sign, right?

Oh--and here's the update on Twilight. Finished it--took me forever. Saw the movie--and liked it MUCH BETTER. Mainly because it just told the story without all the fluff about Edward's looks and Bella's clumsiness. And they stuck to the book pretty close, I was impressed. Edward wasn't good looking enough, but no one can be "adonis" and "an angel" and all the other things she called him. Jasper's wig was AWFUL. All in all, it was a decent book that I'll never read again, and I have no intention of reading the sequels. I asked Jill if Bella becomes a vampire at some point. That was all I really cared to know.

I want to apologize to Jill for my flippant comments on this blog about her love of Twilight and my lack of faith in her reading Gone with the Wind. She is proving me wrong as we speak. And I do hope that she is kinder about the book I gave her than I was about the one she gave me! I'm still glad I read Twilight--now I can have a real opinion of it instead of a borrowed one, and it DOES bother me when people say they hate a book (like Harry Potter) and haven't even tried to read it. If you tried and hated it, well, you have a right to hate it. So now I guess I have the right to hate Twilight. Man, what a long, stupid entry! I am in the habit of writing a journal--anyone who knows me knows this--and I have a hard time differentiating from my journal and my blog. Not too insightful on here, huh? Well! That's it!

P.S. Do you like my new background? I MADE IT MYSELF! It's not all that detailed--I just wanted to see if I could figure out how to upload it. So maybe I'll keep playing with it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Frustrated Ramblings from a First-Time (and only-time) Reader of Twilight...


Ok, if you read Facebook you probably already have seen all the posts I've put up expressing my frustration with Twilight. But if not, here is some more. Grrr...I'm 200 pages in and so far? I HATE it.

I never really wanted to read it in the first place. I've been pretty much anti-Twilight since the beginning. I've seen so many of my tweeny-bopper students obsessed with it, which is understandable. But it's seeing middle aged women of intelligence and maturity obsess over it that really turned me off. I was worried that I'd read it, and love it, and then be like them.

No worries now. It doesn't help that I am reading this book on the heals of reading my favorite book of all time, Gone with the Wind, which is undoubtably the best book ever written, with amazing, complex characters. I love how Scarlett is so fundamentally flawed--you love her and hate her at the same time. But that's what makes her real--every character in that book has clearly defined and explored weaknesses and strengths. It's why you cry when you watch her throw away happiness "with both hands" as Rhett puts it--because by the end of that 1,000 pages, these people and the world they live in are real to you.

And after that, I read Twilight? Why, you ask? Well my friend Jill and I made a deal that if I read Twilight, she'll read Gone with the Wind. For the record, I don't think she'll even finish it. It's just so different from Twilight. For instance, it has plot (more than one) believable characters, and substance.

Twilight, on the other hand, is drivel. Now, I understand that every book certainly can't live up to a classic like Gone with the Wind. I've read many genres of books, all in varying degrees of entertainment and good writing. I can read a silly romance and get caught up in it, despite it's flaws, and just enjoy a good story. I can overlook bad writing if the story draws me in, or maybe if there's a really, really good sex scene (ok, not really. Before I was married yes. Now, it honestly just embarasses me.)

But this? I swear, I've been reading it forever and nothing has happened. I find the "love" story to be really annoying. Yes, I get that Edward is good looking. Get over it already. Do you have to make a reference to it in EVERY paragraph? How can anyone function in a relationship when they are spending all their time catching their breath and being dazzled by someone who "looks more like a greek god than anyone has a right to be." I can't stand it. But Jill--I WILL finish it. Even though I don't think you will finish Gone with the Wind. Ah, we shall see.

Overall assessment:

Bella: She's somewhat likeable--she's "normal" and has normal problems. Her "flaws" are pretty much that she's clumsy, which Stephanie Meyer can't seem to go a page withotu mentioning in some way. She's not supposed to be beautiful but I think there are about five guys who are in love with her within minutes so go figure. And Mr. Gorgeous Edward seems to be attracted to her immediately for no apparent reason. I don't know, I haven't finished it yet. Maybe it'll explain, but I doubt it. I like her alright, but I see no reason for Edward to pick her out as his soulmate other than that author says he does.

Edward: I know he's a vampire so he has super-human strength, beauty and charm. But the guy has no flaws whatsover--oh, except that 1) he's a vampire 2) He can't help but drag Bella into danger because he just loves her so much, apparently, so even though he's dangerous and not "good for her" he's gonna risk it anyway because, what the hell? and 3) he's a pedofile. He may be 17, but since he's been 17 for hundreds of years, that makes him WAY older than her. So gross.

Other characters: There are other characters? I must have missed that. They only get mentioned in passing, since 90% of this book, so far, is either explaining how much Bella is attracted to Edward (and describing him over and over synonyms for the same word--Stephanie must have LOVED her thesaurus) or it's pages and pages of boring detailed descriptions of what Bella does every day, like homework...thinking of Edward...make dinner...think of Edward...talk on the phone...think of Edward...say hi to Charlie...wonder what Edward is doing right now...It's pretty much that for the whole first 200 pages.

Ok I'm done. Sorry Jill. I think you will be VERY mad if you read this entry. But I'm betting you won't. But it feels good to get it out. I'm gonna finish it, damnit, but I WILL NOT read the sequels! Hope you enjoy Gone with the Wind!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Talented Sister and a Cute Baby...

So today Trevor and I went to partake of my sister's amazing talent and had ourselves a little photo shoot. It's our first family photo! Nicki also took a lot of shots of Afton, and these are just some of the ones she's touched up. Don't I have the prettiest little girl? And isn't Nicki an awesome photographer? You know us Nielson girls--between the five of us, SOMEONE will have knowledge of whatever you are needing to know. When it's photography (and free medical advice) we go to Nicki. Anyway, just thought I'd share!


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Feel Guilty

I feel bad I haven't updated my blog. I know that I have scores of ravenous fans waiting anxiously for the next brilliant installment, and I hate to disappoint you all. I know, I know, my posts are what keeps you going, and brings meaning to your lives. And I have selfishly refused to oblige you and fulfill your insatiable desire to hear about every mundane aspect of my life. Forgive me, faithful followers! I implore you for your forgiveness, and beg you to overlook my weaknesses!

Ok. Sorry Cindy. And Nicki I guess. I think Heather looks sometimes, maybe Kelly and Lisa on a good day. So, sorry about that. I just have nothing to write. I tried the other day. I started. And then I just kept deleting it. I pretty much live the same day over and over anyway.

Trevor and I came to the conclusion that Afton has her days and nights mixed up. We've been so happy that she takes such great naps during the day, and so bummed that she has stopped sleeping through the night. Then we put 2 and 2 together, so it looks like I'll have to wake her up tomorrow after two hours and endure her grumpiness, for the sake of an uninterupted sleep at night.

Trevor has finished his CNA training! Hooray! He scored a 96% on his test! But he still needs to take the state written exam and the skills exam. They scheduled him for both--in July. That's right. His skills test isn't until July 21st, so he STILL can't look for a job until then. Makes me so stinkin' mad. On the other hand, I do love having him home.

Today I had Kylee all day. Then I picked up Bethany and Natalie. Tomorrow we are going to have a big paperdoll fest and play "Miss America." Aren't I the coolest aunt ever? I really need to make a new paper doll set for Afton. Yes, it's early, but it will take a few years to create the awesomeness that will be her paperdoll set.

Umm...I got a letter from Jordan District that said basically this: "We couldn't come to an agreement with JEA (the teachers' association) about how to factor teacher's pay and benefits with the deficit. So we decided to screw you all over and take away everything. Starve, lose your house, lose your mind, we don't care. Have a nice day." So it looks like I'll be making about $200 less a month next year, maybe more. Bastards. Sorry, but can you blame me?

Trying to think of anything else random that's going on in my life...I've gotten so boring...nope. That's it. I'm that dull. Sorry. But at least I updated and my guilt is officially assuaged. Thanks, you faithful few. This one's for you.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Third Day of Summer

It's officially my 3rd day of summer. And it feels AWESOME. I have had a really great day so far, except for the fact that Afton woke up at 4:00 a.m. for the first time in weeks. I'm spoiled and not used to having to get up anymore! Anyway, I fed her again at 8:30, and then put her in her jungle. I didn't take a picture, sorry. We bought the jungle for her before she was born, and thus far she's had zero interest in it. But last night, out of desperation, I tried it again. And Afton made a huge break-through and discovered her hands! She still doesn't have complete control, but she'll reach for things now. She spent a good 45 minutes in her jungle last night, happy as a clam.

So this morning I put her in there again, while I *get this* worked out. Wahoo! My third day in a row! The last two days I went to the gym, and discovered it's been SO long that I can't even come CLOSE to what I used to be able to do. But I made a goal that I will do SOMETHING active every single day. This morning I didn't have the energy to figure out what to do with Afton in order to go, so I put her in her jungle and just worked out in my living room to my old Firm videos. Been a while. Kicked my trash. I had to stop after only 20 minutes--not so much because I was tired, (though I was) but because my horrible feet were killing me. Makes me so stinkin' mad. As if working out isn't hard enough.


So then I put Afton to bed, she was SO tired. And I showered and did laundry and cleaned the kitchen. This is so very exciting. Seriously. I LOVE having time to do these things again! Oh, and I got on the scale. Yes, I know, it's only been three days. Stupid of me. But I lost 5 pounds already! How? Well, I have learned from past experience that weight you JUST gained comes off pretty fast. I've gained 10 pounds since Afton was born, so this is pretty recent weight. Still, it makes me pretty motivated to keep going! I was motivated enough to have a relatively healthy breakfast and lunch, AND I haven't cheated. I have to be perfect during the day, because once Trevor gets home, it gets pretty hard.


Ok, this is getting long. And I am betraying how boring my life is. So, we'll just end it with some updated pictures of my precious baby girl!