Thursday, June 26, 2014

Walking in Somone Else's Shoes

It was my grandparents 90th birthday party this weekend.  Sometimes I'm sure people wonder why family reunions are so important.  Why once a year or once every few years we go to such efforts to gather together and talk with the people that share our bloodline.  I was reminded again this weekend the value of it beyond sitting around and talking about diseases in our genetics....

As I was walking my grandpa out to his car after the party he said, "This is all that matters.  And I don't know how but I must have done something right."  Not his amazing career as a rocket scientist, not his ocean view house or money, and not even the number of degrees he's earned.  Family is all that matters.

I've been thinking of way to put into words why family is so important.  Through thick and thin, year in and year out family is there.  They are the only people that will undoubtedly be with you through this whole journey we call life.  As I was thinking about all my family, all 85 first cousins, 27 aunts and uncles, 7 grandparents, 6 siblings, and 2 parents, the longer we travel along this path I think I can understand God's plan better through them.  Our purpose of this life.  As we walk down the street, skim through Facebook, or even sit in church sometimes I think we have this crazy notion that there's such a thing as an easy life.  Some people have it so together, so perfect.  This is why I love a family like mine so much.  Sure some might suggest that we know too much of people's business or that I care too much.  The running family joke is.... if you want to know anything about anyone ask Kristin.  (My excuse is that since I was single all I had was family so I attended everything!)

But what I love about family is you know.  You can look around and know the trails, know the tragedies, know that everyone's life is being challenged.  Everyone goes through hard things and the wonderful part is we get to be a part of the triumphs, the successes, the growth.  Over and over again being a part of a large family has taught me how no one has it easy.  No one isn't struggling.  Everyone is just doing their best to make it through the day.

Every time family gets together I am reminded of that.  It is good for me.  It helps me be a little less critical, a little less judgmental,  and a lot more kind, forgiving, and loving.

I guess what I am trying to say is sure we'll never actually get to walk in the shoes of another, but with family, it's so much easier through the years, through the tears and all the joy, to understand and see how although challenges are different, although trails and tragedies are vast and wide in the end we are all the same, trucking along on the same road trying our darndest to survive.  And for that I agree with my grandpa.  In the end, all that matters is family.

Sadly, I didn't take any pictures this weekend so here is a picture from their 85th
birthday party 5 years ago....
Sure love them.

Monday, June 23, 2014

What We've Been Up To

  A Beautiful run around downtown St. George.  (I rarely am ambitious enough to get up early enough to run outside... but on the rare occasion I do, I don't regret it.)

One of Jason's longtime friends from Vista married a girl from St. George and we are thrilled!  One of our boating trips to Quail Creek.

 Every weekend we head up to Cedar to go to church with my parents and spend Sundays with my family in Cedar.  This is the one thing that I miss about being close to family... having a place to spend every Sunday.  Here is my dad blowing out his 66 candles...

 And Jason sewing on his vintage $35 sewing machine (once he spent $1 fixing it, it is now worth hundreds :)
 And me actually climbing....
And the view......

 One weekend we headed down to Southern California.
 These were hands down the best fish/shrimp tacos ever.  Taco Nazo.... you aren't kidding when you say you are the world's best tacos since 1989.

And of course I couldn't resist a picture of the world's prettiest backyard.

Or... the traffic on the 5.

Or the delicious berry pies we made...

Or the beauty of the Strip on the drive home.

Some pictures from my run on Chuckawalla Trail while Jason climbed with his friend....

 I got back just in time to document this:
 I know you can't tell.... but this is super hard climb......... that ended with this.

16 stitches and a good tetanus shot and he was back to normal. 

 Oh here is a selfie from a climb right by Fat Man's Misery in Pioneer Park.

One of my bestest friends and her family came up to visit before they make the long trek to Norfolk, Virginia........ I can't complain for another excuse to travel east! :)  

Matt is getting pretty fantastic at photography so he wanted to go do a little bit of the Narrows.  We definitely didn't complain!  Here are some pictures from the adventure.


And then of course we went to Oscar's after...

Phew!  That was a lot of pictures.... and what I've learned.  I need to wear a different headband for the next set of pictures and..... Summer Kristin is definitely superior to School Kristin.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I can't sleep....

Which for the record is highly highly unusual.  Dang Facebook/Twitter.

What I can't stop thinking about is something that I keep reading everywhere.  WWJD.  This idea or notion that we can assume what Jesus would do.  It's quite bothersome.

For anyone that hasn't seen.... there are two members of the church that could possibly get excommunicated because of their public actions.  Not their private questioning, not their soul searching desire to find truth, not for counseling with Priesthood authority to find direction and help.... their public actions.

But that is besides the point.

The point is somehow someway there has been a confusion of the fact that there is such thing as right and wrong.  Good and evil.  Black and White.  And the reason I can't sleep tonight is because I have heard one too many comments today suggesting that Jesus did not believe or demonstrate through all His actions that there was such.

One of the most tender stories in the New Testament to me is one where Jesus showed so much love not just by stopping those that were going to stone her, not just lifting her up and sending her on her way, or not even just suffering for her sins so it's possible that she can return to her Father.  He did more.

I love this story so much I begged and begged for my dad to paint it.  I think it took him 3 or 4 years for him to finally paint it for me.

When Jesus found the woman taken in adultery I think it is so powerful what He said to her, "Go and sin no more."  Yes what she was doing was wrong.  Yes what she was doing was evil.  Yes what she was doing would make it so she couldn't get into heaven.  Yes He acknowledge she was sinning.  But then what did He then tell her to do?  Stop. Stop sinning!  And that was the most loving thing He could have possibly done for her at that moment.  At least that is what I believe because I believe He is perfect.  I believe He knew what was best for her.

Now once again I don't want to assume I know what Christ would do in any situation but I can say that I believe that He has a perfect knowledge of Good and Evil and I believe He does not tolerate Evil.  Whether it be a woman taken in adultery, sellers at a temple, or even Satan himself Jesus did not stand by passively and allow evil to reign.  I am so grateful for the knowledge in a living Prophet that I believe receives direct revelation from a loving and just God whose greatest desire is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  So when I hear that someone is being told stop sinning!  I don't hear intolerance, I don't hear cruelty, I don't hear hatred.

I hear love.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Introducing Summer Kristin

My old best friend Shane came up with the name Summer Kristin.  If you have a teacher friend in your life you know the summer version of that friend is very different than the school year version.  I thought it'd be fun to document a day in the life of Summer Kristin.  But before I do.  Yesterday I started this post and felt the need to defend why summers are so important to humanity.  (It's the previous post, I made it two posts because it's kinda obnoxious so unless you are dying to hear my rational why Summer Vacation is saving America just skip it.)

Anyway.  Summer Kristin.

Despite my best efforts I still can't sleep in.  But typically every morning in the summer what happens is... I wake up starving.  So yesterday, like every other summer day, I woke up around 6.  Ate a bowl of Cheerios (or rice krispies or corn flakes) and then went back to bed.
At 8 Jason and I went to Chuckawalla to rockclimb.  Of course my favorite part of the trip was the other climber there named Vlad from Romania who drove across the country with his girlfriend from Florida and are settling in southern Utah for a while because it has the best rock climbing around.  He climbed with Jason for a while so I was able to run a few miles on the Chuckawalla trail.  It was beautiful!  Jack rabbits, lizards, and breathtaking red rocks.  The desert is pretty impressive.... before it gets too hot.
yes, these glasses look ridiculous.  Long story short, Jason's genius $9 purchase
that makes it a lot easier to belay. (Climbing glasses are typically like $100 so Jason
bought "reading in bed" glasses and turned them upside down. Like I said, Genius)
My run
Jason has class at 11 so we headed home of course stopping by Swig because there was only one car in line and its never too early for a dirty diet coke. :)

After Jason went to class I checked my online school work stuff.  Kinda frustrating but I got some stuff done and figured I'd hit the gym.

I've started going to the gym later in the day because I have hated every class I've been to here........ I know I'm picky.  But seriously.  Terrible.  So I wait to go to the gym when there are no classes so I can have my own class in the aerobics room.  I started by warming up with Melissa (The videos kinda suck but she is amazing!)  Then I did one of my own step routines.  I know it looks absolutely ridiculous.  My rockin' out solo doing step....  But I was having a blast.  I get I was kinda getting carried away because I noticed a cute old kinda watching me as I worked out.  After an hour or so he came up and said, "What do you call this?  Is it some type of war dance?"  So I figured I should probably be done with step for the day and hit the treadmill for a few more miles.
The pool all to ourselves...
I had every intention of hitting the pool but instead I wrote the blogpost on Swig and my defense of summer vacation....... and next thing I knew it was 3:00 and Jason was home from school.  So I decided it was time to eat lunch.  (I don't get it, when teaching I am starving by 11.  Maybe I'm just ridiculously bored?)

Most delicious lunch ever.  Caprese Salad.  Spinach Bacon Salad.  Spaghetti Squash with a homemade carrot, spinach, turkey sausage, spinach marinara.

Then Jason and I decided to hit up an early movie... we went and saw the latest X-Men.  I probably shouldn't admit I'd never seen an X-Men movie before but I thought this was very entertaining.

Of course the way Jason got me to go to the movie was promising me candy.  

After the movie we had every intention of stopping off at Pioneer Park and doing fat man's misery.... but it was super hot still so we decided to explore a little.  We ended up on Main Street.  I don't think I realized how charming downtown St. George is.  The Tabernacle with the old Woodward buildings, and of course Judds.... It is just darling.  So we yelped where we should eat and we ended up at a cute little hot dog place just north of the Tabernacle.

After a ginormous Ruben hot dog that we shared we headed home to watch the latest episode of Jack.  I am LOVING this season.  I seriously love Jack Bauer so much its kinda sad.

And then I fell asleep....
We didn't do this that night, but I love St. George after the sun has set.... and so this is going to become my favorite pass time.

Ah.........Summer, I love you.

Summer Kristin part 1

Now I'm sure people wonder.... what do teachers do all summer?  So I thought it'd be fun to document a day in the life of "Summer Kristin"

But before we go down the slippery slope of "We need to get rid of summers!  It's ridiculous!  Teachers get paid to do nothing!  Studies have shown that the largest discrepancies between rich kids and poor kids happen because of summer vacation.  Let's get rid of it!"  (yes all true arguments.  They concluded in the study that students of more affluent families spend the summer in camps/museums/traveling where their knowledge base increases making them "smarter" where students of less affluent families spend the majority of their summer in front of the cheapest babysitter there is... a tv.)


So before I go into a typical summer day in the life of a junior high teacher... I first want to make sure we understand a few things.
1. Yes teachers get "paid" in the summer.  Teachers salaries are typically 2/3 of another employ with similar educational background.  So really I think it's pretty fair.

2. Why summer is so important.  I have heard all the arguments of why we should abolish the old agricultural system of summer and have school year round because it would benefit students.  (Really I think the real argument is because it is even "cheaper" babysitting that the television)  But I'd like to suggest a reason that eventually does benefit students that might not seem so initially.  Teachers need a break.  I know that sounds ridiculous.  No other profession in the world well besides professional athletes get an "off season"... well and Europeans...

But here is why it is so valuable to society to let teachers have a break...or multiple breaks.  Unlike any other real profession outside of government, there is absolutely no incentive whatsoever to work hard or be a good teacher.  Quite frankly the school would run a lot smoother if every teacher was a crappy teacher and just gave every student an A.  Now of course anyone that reads that sentence realizes the reality of it.  So of course instantly we think we need to figure out a way to create an monetary incentive to be a good teacher.  But alas then we run into the never ending circle of what is a good teacher.  (I know it sounds simple.... but like so many other things in life the more you think about it, the more you study it, the more complex it becomes, don't believe me.... try getting a masters degree in it.(insert the crying emoticon)

I actually even discovered a study that proves this even further than I ever dreamed.  (It's from an NPR TED radio hour podcast called "The Money Paradox" from a book called Thrive listen to it here)  Long story short, we always think that dangling money in front of something will always produce the best results.  They did a study were they had groups of people try and solve a problem.  With one set of groups they said, "Who every gets done first gets X amount a money, who ever gets done next gets a little bit less than X amount etc."  Then with the second set of groups they said, "If you solve the problem you get X amount of money."  The second group solved the problem way faster than the first.  Interesting right?

I feel like this same principle applies to teaching.  I don't think the way to create better teachers is to throw more money at them or to even increase the salary of teachers so more talented individuals would go into the profession.  I know some might say, "But look at (Insert whichever Asian or Scandinavian country that currently is at the top here).  They have the highest test score in the world and their teachers get paid way more than American teachers.  Clearly they must have better teachers."

My argument?  They have better students.  What does that mean?  No, I don't think their students are genetically superior to Americans.  American students have two problems.  1. They think education is a right instead of a privilege.  2. A word I was recently introduced to, Americans are stricken with "affluenza." (Joanie told me a famous athlete was asked if his kids would excel in his sport.  His response, "Heck no.  My kids are stricken with affluenza.  If you have a pool in your backyard you'll never put in the work required to excel at (Insert whatever sport he competes in)"

I guarantee American teachers are just as good if not better when compared to teachers around the world.  But the bottom line is learning takes work.  A lot of work.  It's painful.  It's hard.  And the bottom line is, American kids in general, don't have to do it.  So instead of blaming the students who don't want an education or the parents (or lack of parents) that don't teach kids the value of that education or how to work.... we blame the teachers.  The lazy good for nothing, only work 2/3 of the year, teachers.  But like so many other things in life, you can drag a horse to water, but you can't force it to drink.  A teacher can beg and beg and beg and make the lesson as hip and cool and inspiring as humanly possible.  But at the end of the day, learning is work.  And the only way to really increase learning is for the student to work.

So why are summers so important for teachers?  Because the good teachers, the ones that really care, the ones that try so hard to really help kids.... they need a break.  Because other wise they start not to care.  They start to become calloused.  Already the studies say that the best teachers leave the profession within 5 years.  But I argue without summer the rest of the teachers would A. become more calloused and not care or B. leave the profession.  Because the only motivation for a a teacher to try and be a good teacher... is because they have a crazy idea that the maybe someday down the road their work will pay off.  A kid might actually make a better decision.  A kid might actually be more successful.  A kid might actually contribute to society.  Of course this sounds noble.  But after 180 days of all the troubles a teacher has to face trying to help a kid.... they need a break or they stop caring about the chance that maybe someday down the road that kid might actually make a better decision because of that teacher or class.  Why is summer important????  Because it rejuvenates a teacher enough to be crazy enough to try and take on another 265 punk 14 year olds.

So without further ado....... Introducing a day in the life of Summer Kristin

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My review of "Swig"

Well somethings that anyone that knows me knows....
I love Diet Coke
I love Diet Coke with lime more.
I love Diet Coke with lime in a styrofoam cup most.
Well..... besides.... a quality shaved ice.

So when I realized that my residence for the summer is literally 400 meters away from Swig I really thought I was in trouble!

If you are not familiar with the phenomenon of Swigs you can watch this news clip on it here.... (of course hilariously, my dad's office/classroom is literally less than 100 feet from Swig and when I brought it up to my mom and dad they said, "Oh that little shack that always has a crowd?"  (that's how "hip" my parents are!) (And of course I wouldn't have it any other way!)

Anyway.  Now that I have known about Swig for 4 days.... which means I've been 6 times... here is my review:

The drink:
Decent price, great ice, decent cups, and I LOVE the straws.
The downs:  WAY too much ice, "dirty" to them just means coconut so even when I asked for limes.... I didn't didn't get them.
Bottom line on the drinks... If it's happy hour (2-4) The line at Sonic is shorter, the cups are better, the price is better, and they get my order right every time.

The Sugar cookie: yes... I tried one.
This was extremely relieving to me..... I wasn't impressed.  I'm sure it was because my cookie was underdone.... not like soft underdone... like doughy underdone.... my little brother had warned me they tasted like chalk, I thought it tasted more just like flour... (I literally took two bites and threw it away) Like I said, I was relieved I didn't love it.  I'm sure it was probably just a bad apple but it probably saved me 5 pounds this summer...

And Last: most disappointing.
The Shaved Ice:
Once again I know shaved ice well enough that sometimes you just get a bad apple.... but the ice was hard, they got my flavors wrong, and there was very little flavor to it.  (Is it really that easy to mess up Tiger's Blood?)
And they don't have an option for cream on top (my personal favorite even more than sweet and condensed milk or ice cream).

So the bottom line of Swig.  I am not in love.  I am thrilled.