Friday, June 22, 2018

Summer Life

The best ways for me to describe summer is the days are long but the weeks are short.  I cannot believe we've already had almost 3 whole weeks of summer!  We have had an absolutely wonderful summer so far!  Brad is so so so stinkin' cute.  So so cute.  There aren't enough "so"s to explain how cute he is.  Jason said the other day, "We just need to film you all the time!!!"  Some of my favorite of his current sayings right now: When he gets hurt he comes crying to us and says, "It hurts like the dickens."  or when he wants me to hold him, "Hold you. Hold you!"  

To be honest a lot of our time has looked like this:
And the 45 miles drive it is to get to the fertility clinic.  But hopefully that process is almost over for a while......  But Brad has been wonderful about the whole process.  Every time Jason gives me all my shots Brad wants to see.  He asks, "Mommy owie?"  By the end Brad even raised up his shirt to show his belly wanting a shot.  

But we have done a lot of other fun things!  One day we hiked through Corner Canyon to our favorite views of the Draper Temple.

And I finally saw my first segalily in real life!!! (this flower is famous in pioneer history and became the Utah state flower and I had never seen it!)

Some other things we're up to:  I used to go to the gym every morning before Brad woke up but Jason is now going to the gym in the morning!  So Brad and I go once the daycare opens at the gym.  It is a WONDERFUL daycare and Brad loves it!  This picture below is of Brad watching a show but I think that is the only time Brad has ever watched a show at the gym.  There are tons of toys and lots and lots of friends.  Brad now begs to go to the gym to play with friends.  I am thrilled that he loves it because it is the perfect activity for both of us.

Once or twice a week we meet up with our ward friends and play at the park.  I normally don't take pictures but one time the kids went to the other end of the park and we all thought they were playing in the sand of the horse shoe pits..... it wasn't until we went to leave that we discovered all our kids covered in mud!  

Brad has also started swimming lessons with one of my young women in my ward.  She is AWESOME.  She teaches at a really expensive swim place in town so she is very experienced and has great curriculum.   This picture was from their very first lesson when Brad was crying for me so I went and hid in the bathroom.  Now Brad loves his swim lessons and always begs to go swim with Avy.

One day we were outside playing in Brad's swimming pool when he wanted to ride his bike.  It was hilarious because he kept asking for something and I couldn't figure out what he was asking for... until I finally realized he wanted his helmet!  Must be his dad's kid.

One day Brad and I tried to venture to the mall to return something I had purchased online.  We only had a very tantrums and meltdowns along the way....

Something that has been wonderful for me this summer is I am taking an online class from Harvard Business School on leading change in education.  It has been super interesting and I've loved hearing from all the billion dollar company CEOS that Harvard has interviewed to help illustrate points throughout the course. 

Another park trip.  Brad doesn't love the splashes at the splash pad but he loves to sit and watch all the bigger kids run through the splashes.

Feeding the ducks at Daybreak Lake.

A trip to Hoggle Zoo.

A hike up Milcreek Canyon.


It was hard to get a picture of Brad looking at the camera because he was WAY more interested in the bug on the rock.

One day I was getting blankets out of my grandma's cedar chest when Brad saw it was the perfect bed.  So he found a pillow and a blanket and crawled right in.

And since we have a lot of free time now Jason wanted to do a check up on me.  It is fun to watch Jason in action!

Well kinda... I still hate the dentist.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

To My Dad.

Yesterday I called home to talk to my parents and wish my dad a happy Father's Day.  The conversation was like conversations we've had a million times.  My mom and dad both on speaker phone and Jason reminding me that Brad's sleeping and that I need to try and be quiet but that is difficult.  Being quiet is just something we don't do very well....  My dad told me a hilarious story that had happened that day at church and we all laughed.  I laughed until I almost cried.  (If I told you the story you would be confused on how in the world the story was funny because it's arguably the most heart wrenching story possible.  So you'll just have to trust me that the way my dad told the story it was hilarious)

Anyway, he also told another part of the story.  He described the last time he got to talk to his dad before he died and how precious that experience was for him.  It got me thinking.   I sure hope my dad truly knows and understands how much I love and appreciate everything that he has done for me.  But in honor of Father's Day I figure I should write it down.  So here you go, all the things that my dad has taught me.

- Hard work.  We joke with my dad that his spirit animal is a sloth.  Well it might be more than a joke.... but the idea of the sloth does not mean my dad is lazy.  My dad taught me that although a gift is from God it is our job to work hard to turn that gift into a talent.  My dad has a beautiful talent but he gained that talent through hours and hour and hours of very hard work.  (And he doesn't let us forget how hard painting is. :) It reminds me of a quote by Michelangelo that my dad told me,
"If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all."  To become great at anything takes a lot of hard work. Most of my life my dad had 2 full time jobs.  He worked every Saturday.  He worked every holiday.  Vacations weren't a part of our vocabulary growing up.  My dad taught me if you want anything in life you have to work for it.  We probably hated him for it sometimes but so much of his children's success has come from the persistence of a dad who taught us that nothing is free and we have to work for everything.  I smile as I think back to my dad trying to coach me for an interview that would become my first bonafide teaching job.  He and I drove up from Cedar to Draper for the interview and the entire 3 hour drive was him making me repeat the 10 minute lesson I was giving to the interviewers.  I cried and screamed as he made me practice over and over again making sure that I got everything just right.  Needless to say, although they interviewed almost a hundred teachers I got the job and later I saw the notes from the interview.  I was disappointed to see that there were only two words until I saw read what the two words were, "Hire her."

- The value of a good road trip.  So many fond memories of the last 20 years have been me and my dad and the open road.  Music has never been a part of a road trip in my family.  Instead the time and silence was filled with another thing my dad taught me, the art of good conversation.  Through these long talks my dad and I have had through the years I learned to think.  I learned to use logic and reason to make good discussions.  But most important through these discussions my dad taught me his love for his Savior and it was through these discussions that he always shared his testimony of the Gospel.

Also on these road trips he showed me the beauty of nature.  He would point out the golden hue cast across a valley as the sun was setting or the silver lining on a cloud.  Nothing gets my dad more excited than seeing a unique bird or a rare siting of a big horn sheep driving through Cove Fort.  He loves the rain.  But probably the thing that will always remind me the most of my dad is driving through the Snake River Valley watching the cottonwood trees that grow along the river.  The way that the colors change through the season.  The beautiful greens and blues of summer are just as memorable as the blues and oranges that come every winter.  God's country is what he would call it. 

- The gift of teaching and story telling.  My dad is probably the best teacher I've ever. So much of my skills have been learned from years of watching him.  He can tell the perfect story, the kind that makes you laugh and then makes you cry.  After my wedding we were watching his speech in our wedding video.  My dad said, "Hey I can really be funny sometimes!"  Yes Dad... you can.

- A desire to change the world.  For my dad of course this desire manifested in creating a painting that would influence and impact people.  For me, well at least right now, it has been to touch a student.

When I think of my dad I can smell turpentine as I hear his easel rattle with baseball or a BYU devotional playing in the background while he paints in his studio.   I can see him doing his happy dance as he sings, "If I were a rich man" from Fiddler on the Roof.  My dad can make anything fun.  He can make a game out of anything: a penny while waiting in line, a salt shaker while waiting for food at a restaurant, or even the hymn book while sitting in church.

I don't know why I got so lucky to get to have him for a dad but every day I am so so grateful that he's mine.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The luck of my 13th Year of Teaching.

I have to admit, I do have some superstition that runs deep in my bones.   So when I realized this is my 13th year of teaching I was a bit nervous.

But then I totally forgot about it and got to work.

So here is my accountability for another notch in the belt, another year of being so so lucky to be with the best kids around, another year of trying to help the world be a better place.  I'll go through each of my different responsibilities and explain how it went.

The newest adventure: AP Human Geography.  This probably took the most time and energy.  I (rightfully so) put so much pressure on myself for this class.  These kids are the best of the best, the top of the top.  But boy did they know it.  The success of this class?  I shocklying truly prepared them for the AP test.  I say shockingly because dude.... this course is insane.  The content covers anything and everything on earth present or past.  Try and teach all that to 31 entitled, arrogant, stubborn, know-it-alls.  So what did I do right?  I think I truly prepared them for the test.  Why I did wrong?  I didn't reach some of their hearts like I needed to.  I was so focused on trying to jam as much content in as possible that I am afraid that my number one goal of any student in my class, "To walk out of this class and want to make a better place" didn't happen.  But don't get me wrong.... I did reach them, most of them I reached deeply.... but dude I have never had a class that was so hard to manage.  So hard to get to listen and stop talking.   I am sure part of this was because I always try and set myself up at just another student in the room as we learn together and with this group I might need to show more dominance.  I have never had to do that before.  But next year I will do better.

Regular Geography/World Civilizations:  this is the course I have taught more of than any other class in my years of teaching.  I have taught this course 55 times before this year.  But hands down this was the best year I have ever taught it.  I think my students will retain more because of how I changed the history part of the class.  One true evidence of this was their final "End of the World" countries test.  The class average on the test was a 90%.  So with regular students that on average knew less than 8 countries when entering my room, they now have learned 127 countries around the world.

Honors Geography/World Civilization:  although I have taught this course to 1 class for the last 3 years, this year teaching all the honors classes was hands down the most enjoyable teaching experience of my life.  Although there is some of the same entitlement tendencies as the AP kids, in general these kids are the cream of the crop.  Good kids who want to do and be good.  I might need to work harder to make the class more challenging next year but over all I find this class as a total success.  One miner but easy to quantify example of the classes successes was the final "End of the World Test."  The classes average was 95%.  On average those kids walked out of the class knowing 155 countries from around the world.  Their comments about this final assignment made me so proud.  They learned how to study.  They learned they can memorize anything.  But my favorite, "I now see that the world is a lot smaller than I thought."

Yearbook: oh this class gave me stress.  But in the end the yearbook turned out wonderful!  The best yearbook I created.  We sold out the entire yearbook!  This is the first time in at least 15 years that a yearbook at PGJR has sold out.  I am afraid that yearbooks is a dying art.  With the huge influx of pictures and social media, a yearbook is not worth was it used to be.  I was so convinced that there was no way we were going to actually sell the 1,120 yearbooks that I had ordered I told my yearbook staff if we sold out the yearbook I would take them all to Disneyland.  Oops.  But it was awesome.  Here are a few of my favorite pages.  

You see, it would be SO much easier as a yearbook teacher to do what a lot if not most schools do.  You can just pick an entire layout for a yearbook and all the yearbook staff does is put pictures and words into the spots.  SO. Much. Easier.  But our school has a lot of traditional pages that have been in the yearbook for years.  So instead...... we completely create the entire book, the theme, the colors, the fonts from scratch.  It's harder than you'd think and takes WAY more time than you'd think.  Luckily I have years of practice with my blog books...but still.  Anyway, because of that we are even more proud of the work we created!

I wasn't planning on writing this state of the union type post.  The end of the year was WAY too much lame administrative drama that caused some major bummers including but not limited to: I didn't go to Lagoon with all my dearest teacher friends and we didn't have a yearbook day.  So so so sad about both.  So the end of the year was a bit anti-climatic.  The last day I saw all my students wasn't supposed to be the last day.  We didn't get closer.  We didn't get goodbyes.  It was just the end.  Luckily I had a luxury that most teachers didn't, I had access to the yearbooks so I was able to have all my students still sign my yearbook anyway.  I was kind of relieved to hear other teachers disappointment about not having the opportunity to do that.  It was good to hear that other teachers find value in having students actually thank them at the end of the year.  I read through their comments at least 4-5 times each summer just to get pumped to do it allllllll overrrr again.............

I had no intentions on writing this post until last night, Saturday night, at 7:41 pm I got the sweetest email from one of my honors students.  I think he was struggling with the lack of closure even more than most students because his family is moving over the summer.  I read the email as Jason and I finally watched The Greatest Showman.  We can blame it on the inspiring music of the movie or my raging hormones from all the drugs I am taking.... but tears just streamed down my face as I read the email.

So here's the email.  As always I need to document it, relish in it, and soak it all in because all too soon this part of my life will be over and I hope to always be able to wash over the ugly parts and remember it as one of the best experiences of my life.

Mrs. B, thank you for the fun filled and knowledge filled year. You sparked in me a desire to be more aware of the world around me and to not just go through the motions. Though I feel like your class was a breeze, it was only because I was interested in what we were learning and the time flew by. I will forever remember the heart to hearts and the jokes and laughs we all had together. I know it sounds cliche but I never want you to change and even when your done teaching please never stop trying to stir up stupid teenagers like myself into caring about the world and more important things than ourselves. Thank you for teaching us about stuff that is usually not taught in history. I believe that it is important to look at a problem or confrontation from both sides and you did that this year. I am now and forever going to be wary about what I listen to and what I believe. Most of all, thanks for caring enough to come to school everyday and trying to teach us kids some much needed reality. I know and you know that you don't reach most kids at what your getting at, but you reached me and I'm grateful for that. Thanks again Mrs. B

But if you actually made it through this whole post and really you are just here to see cute pictures of Brad... here ya go.  He came to school with me the last day of school and of course he loved every minute.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Memorial Weekend

Now that Brad really is starting to remember people it's really fun to be able to tell him, "We're going to Grandma and Grandpa's house!"  While my parents were in Europe last week their car was in front of our house.  Every day Brad would point to their car and say, "White car.  Grandma's car."

So since we didn't have any real plans for Memorial Day we decided to head down to Grandma's house.  Friday night we decided to wait until the Friday night traffic had died down a little bit.  It was probably a bad idea... because it was pretty much bumper to bumper traffic all the way from Salt Lake to Cedar but we made it!

Saturday morning Brad loved seeing Grandma and Grandpa and exploring at the house.  Brad has been begging to go to the beach so we figure we'd take him to the lake beach at Sand Hallow.  I haven't been to this lake in years... like maybe since 2005?  So I didn't really know what to expect.  It was awesome!  We could drive straight up to the beach.  Brad loved the rocks, the water, and of course the sand dune type sand.  Grandma Leigh had given Brad an amazing beach toy set so he was in heaven!  We stayed at the beach until we were all so hungry we had to leave.

We went for a stroll down memory lane for me and went to lunch at Judd's.  Back in the day, St. George used to send all sixth graders to the same school in downtown St. George.  It was a super cool experience for everyone to attend Woodward.  One of the coolest things about attending Woodward was getting to go to Judd's for lunch.  When I was little I would give my older siblings who were attending Woodward money so they could buy me candy at Judd's.  Judd's mostly sold candy, ice cream, and sodas but it also had amazing bread sticks.  Jason really wanted to go to Judd's because he read online that it had amazing jalepanijo grilled cheese sandwiches.

I just love the contrast of the red sandstone buildings and the deep greens of the hundred year old trees around downtown St. George.

After lunch we headed to the condo for Brad to take a nap.  We might be entering a new stage that I am certainly not looking forward to.... Brad was so excited about life that he didn't want to take a nap.  We will be really sad to see nap time go... so hopefully it isn't time for it to leave.  But Brad wouldn't sleep so we let him play in the backyard with his swimsuit, toys, and the hose.  Eventually we decided to get more food hoping that if Brad ate more then he'd go to sleep.  We ordered take out from the newest trendy restaurant in St. George, Viva Chicken.  It was fun and different from other trendy restaurants but I don't know if I'd put it at the top of my list.

Finally Brad and Jason took a nap.  (They both needed it. :)

My dad had asked us to stop at his office at Dixie State to pick up something.  Brad loved pretending to be my mom.  :)

Saturday evening we went to Chuckawalla to rock climb.  It was a perfect evening.

Jason even got in some rock climbing!  Chuckawalla is such a perfect place because we were able to let Brad just wander around while Jason climbed. 

We really really do just love St. George.

And of course my favorite part of summer....

Sunday we drove back to Cedar to go to church with Grandpa.  Church might have been a little bit boring... how can I prove how boring it might have been?  Grandpa was holding and playing with Brad!

 My mom got the cutest video of Brad going back and forth giving grandpa then her hugs.  It was so cute!  I think he hugged each other them at least 5 times in this exchange.

After church Brad loved playing in Grandpa's huge adventurous yard.  He and grandpa were bird watching together.


Broc's family came over for birthday cake because Broc's birthday is later this week.  Then we played a game we used to play growing up on Sundays.  The game is called, "Get to Heaven."  Back when we lived in Rexburg we had square carpet and as luck would have it, my parents still have a squareish rug.  So each kid is asked a church question.  If they get the question right they get a peanut m&m and get to move up one square until they make it to "heaven".  Brad started the game with everyone but of course quickly got bored with standing.  But it was fun to remember the game.  After the kids "made it" to heaven, Broc's kids said the adults needed to play.  So Jason and I played while the kids asked us questions.  It was great fun.

Monday morning my parents went to do landscaping at the temple, Jason and Brad went to IHOP, and I went to the gym.  When we all got home from our adventures my dad asked us if he could take us to a super cool place that a local had just introduced him to.   The way my dad described this spot reminded me of the good ol' days when the Kanara Falls Hike was completely off the radar for anyone but real locals of Cedar.  The good ol' days when you could drive as close to the falls as you could get your off-roading vehicle.  Now........ you have to park in the parking lot 1-2 miles away, purchase a ticket to get into the hike, and deal with all sorts of crowds. 

So I hesitate even writing about this cool experience because there are so few cool top secret things that exist in this world of the internet.... but oh well.  It was a fun adventure so I'll show you pictures.  My dad has a friend who is a professional bird watcher... whatever that means.  Anyway, one day he was out looking at eagles and he stumbled upon Indian writings.  There are other famous Indian writings in the area that are at least 1,000 years old.  So that is our best guess on how old these writings are.  It was a fun adventure for sure!  Brad loved the tricky climb up.  I loved trying to figure out what in the world the drawings were of.  

It was a perfect little weekend.