Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thoughts on Being a First-Year Teacher


Whenever I thought about being a teacher when I was younger, I imagined myself after 10, 15, 20 years of teaching--you know, the teacher who knows it all and has a reputation for being brilliant and demanding and personable, all at once. Basically, I thought of the teachers who had made the most difference in my own life and imagined I'd be just like them (and right away, too)--I would have the intimidation factor of my AP Lit teacher Mrs. Drake (who knew how to continually keep pushing us and pushing us until we were doing things we never imagined we could); I would have a free-spirited nature and high expectations just like my Creative Writing teacher, Mrs. Sides; I would have the personal touch and caring attitude of my junior high math teacher, Mr. Short. For some reason, I always thought those qualities would come naturally when I got my teaching license.

I quickly discovered how naive that thinking was.

Wanna know a secret that's not really too much of a secret? Being a first-year teacher is downright TOUGH: you are expected to do everything that a seasoned teacher is doing (and just as well), yet you haven't had the thirty-one (or ten, or even five) years of experience behind you. You are expected to differentiate lessons for every student (translation: you are expected to individualize each lesson to meet each student's personal needs), you are expected to be a student advocate while not losing focus of the academic portion of school, and you are expected to have at least 80% of your kids passing in all units at all times. But don't forget that you are also expected to return student work in a timely fashion (with lots of personalized comments), challenge the gifted kids so they're not bored and boost up the struggling kids so they're not lost, as well as find time to make regular contact with parents, plan engaging learning activities that will excite and push your students, and keep up with the mountain of paperwork required by the administration.

You know I've only covered about 1% of my job, right?

But rather than continue on with the mountain of expectations heaped upon first-year teachers (as well as any other full-time teacher), I will just say this:

I have never had a job that was so exhausting.

I wake up around 5:30 every morning (sometimes as early as 5) to get myself ready for school and eat a decent breakfast, and I'm out the door by 6:30 so I can be to the school by 7:10. I do last-minute preparations for that day's activities, and students start arriving to class at 7:30 (although class doesn't technically start until 7:40). I teach two periods of Language Arts, a shortened period of either intervention or    ballroom dancing, then I teach two more periods of Language Arts and a Creative Writing class. I get 30 minutes for lunch (when I also have to do hall duty), and I also get a 55-minute prep period that is usually spent either trying to attack the never-ending paper load on my desk or discussing curriculum with the other 7th grade LA teachers. After school, I still have piles of assessments and essays and journals to look through, and I'm lucky if I leave before 4, although I usually end up leaving closer to 5. I am usually the last one here, if you don't count the janitor.

Now, I'm not telling you all this to complain to you (promise!). I'm just admitting outright that I had NO IDEA how difficult it would be to be a first-year teacher. And I even have a supportive faculty, a wonderful principal, and a reasonable amount of money for supplies--I can't even imagine how teachers in low-support areas handle things.

But the work load and the high expectations and the stress aren't really the hardest things about being a first-year teacher. Honestly, I think the hardest thing is how teaching is like falling in love and getting your heart broken over and over again. Why? Because you have these thrilling moments when your kids finally get something for the first time or they go beyond your expectations or they make significant progress from one writing draft to another. It's just like falling in love--the same thrill, the same giddy anticipation, the same thought of "that-person-can-do-no-wrong."

Then teaching is like getting your heart broken over and over again because you see smart kids who are giving you much less than their full potential, or you see someone who is unprepared make a dishonest decision, or you see a kid bomb a test who you just KNOW understood the concept. But then there's the most heartbreaking thing of all: when you start to piece together details of some of these kids' lives at home and what they're up against and how much they are struggling with. It makes you want to take them all home with you so you can give them hot meals and regular praise and routine and values and love. And you try to give them as many of those things at school as you can, but you have 150 kids to focus on, and the day goes by so fast, and there's just so much to do...

But I'm glad that I have these moments because it means that I care about my students. I'm glad that I'm in a position where I can have such an influence on so many kids at such a critical time in their lives. Whenever I need just a little reminder about how important my job is, I just read this quote by Haim Ginott I have written up on my desk:

I have come to a frightening conclusion.
I am the decisive element in the classroom.
It is my personal approach that creates the climate.
It is my daily mood that makes the weather. 
As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. 
I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. 
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.
In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated,
and a child humanized or dehumanized. 

Despite it all, there are moments like I've had this week that make all the stress and all the work and all the heartache worth it--moments like a student bringing you in a box of books for the class library because she's read them all and wanted to share the books she loves with everyone else; moments like students remembering that your birthday is coming up and saying all the things they want to bring you; moments like seeing one of your lowest-performing kids get an almost-perfect score on the last formative assessment; moments like hearing one of your students read aloud what she wrote in creative writing class and it's all about how wonderful she thinks you and your class are. And then--just for a moment--you realize, so perfectly, why you did become a teacher.

And you have the strength to face just one more day, just one more class, just one more student.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday Tell-All, Wednesday Edition


*Okay, so I know that a Tuesday Tell-All on a Wednesday is not exactly accurate (unless, of course, all my telling was about Tuesday). But yesterday was a little on the rough side, okay? I had to have a come-to-Jesus talk with  my Creative Writing class (after which no one dared to move, much less talk), I had an unexpected meeting of sorts (that ended up being over an hour long) after school, meaning I didn't get home until 6, and I was really worried about a student after reading some of the dark things he'd written on an exam. All in all, I was in sore need tor a Diet Dr. Pepper and some good snuggling when I came home. Hence the reason why I get to grace your Wednesday with a Tuesday Tell-All :)

*Monday was Matt's birthday, and I'm still trying to decide which was my favorite : how excited he got that I wrapped his present in the comics (in true Meidell fashion--he's glad he's finally turned me into one of them) or the fact that at Texas Roadhouse, I slyly told our server that it was his birthday just so we could get the free ice cream (and so Matt would have to get up on the saddle while everyone gave out their best hick-like "Yee-haw").

*I mean, just look at his face: it's so clearly saying--'I can't believe you actually made me do this. You are so getting it later, missy." Tee hee hee.
*In other news, I cleaned our whole kitchen on Monday. It was nothing short of a miracle. (Remember this post on my messy kitchen? Well, it had gotten about four times as bad as that). I am such a failure at being a good housewife.

*Except when it comes to cooking. I can do cooking.

*Speaking of cooking, remember how I said yesterday was not the greatest? Well, I came home and started looking around for something to make for dinner, and I realized we had quite a bare little fridge. I frantically racked my brain (and my favorite cookbook) for some miracle I could make out of nothing. When I finally came across a recipe that looked good and that was quick, I started pulling everything out and preparing things...only to realize a little later that I did not have the key ingredient. At this point, I believe I got a little frustrated. I might have even (accidentally) thrown a spatula on the ground. So, at almost 8 o'clock last night, I dragged Matt with me to the grocery store for company and proceeded to map out how much food I could buy with only $9 (thank goodness payday is Friday, eh?). End of the story: our dinner wasn't finished until fifteen minutes before I went to bed.

*Oh well. Better late than never.

*In happy news, we had no fewer than THREE babies born between both of our extended families last week. I've been seeing all the pictures online and through picture messages in my phone and just freaking out because we don't get to see them for a few weeks yet. BABY MANIA!!

*Also in happy news, my birthday is on Saturday, and we have got some AWESOME plans. Be excited for me, friends. Be very excited. Hint: ir involves Aggie ice cream and screaming my lungs out. Plus a new Mexican restaurant. And maybe--just maybe--the new season of Big Bang that just came out. (Pretty please?)

*Have I mentioned before that I'm teaching mini ballroom dance lessons every Thursday and Friday to some of my students? Have I also mentioned how completely hilarious it is? I think my favorite part is when it comes time to pair everyone up because what happens is this: since we have more girls than boys, all the girls pair up with their friends and the boys are just left standing there, looking around with bewildered looks on their faces. Then I have to break up some of the double-girl partnerships and the girls give me these looks like, "Really? You're  making me dance with this boy?" It's pretty much awesome.

*Also, the kids FLIP. OUT. every time I try to model how to do some of the hip swinging (like in salsa). They giggle and point and freak out like I'm doing the weirdest thing ever. I wish they could see themselves in their little robot-dancing state--THEN they would know who looks the funniest.

*While on hall duty, a student (not mine) comes right up to me and scrutinizes my face really closely for about 30 seconds before he asks, "Are you a teacher?" When I respond in the affirmative, he scampers off. Later, he peeks his head around the corner and yells, "You shouldn't be a TEACHER--you  look like a STUDENT!" Then  he giggled like a maniac and ran off. Middle schoolers.

*Honestly.

*Okay, I've got a meeting I've got to run off to (since I'm totally doing this in the morning before school starts. But hey--it's a late-start day). Hope you have a fabulous middle-of-the-week day!

*Please feel free to share with me your own little tell-all bits. It would honestly make my whole day!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kickoff to Birthday Week


 Wanna know the funnest part about having a birthday five days apart from your spouse?

Starting the birthday celebrating early and ending it late.

By this I mean that we can stretch out all the parties and presents and it's-my-birthday-bring-me-chocolate excuses to last ourselves almost two weeks.

It's basically awesome.

This year, we kicked off celebrating Matt's birthday (which is actually today) on Saturday by going bowling with our friends Jon and Emily.


Every time we go bowling, we always say to each other, "We need to go bowling WAY more often."

Why?

Because by the time we've re-taught ourselves how to bowl like decent human beings, the second game is almost over.

See that cute couple up there?

What this picture doesn't tell you is that Emily beat husband Jon for the very first time ever in our second game.

It may or may not had something to do with the fact that I was trash talking for her the whole game.

(I'd like to see anyone bowl well while I am chanting, "FEAR" over and over again behind their back)



Afterwards, the Shipleys were sweet enough to treat us to a delicious homemade dinner of ham-fried rice and eggdrop soup, which were so amazing that I tried to replicate them myself the next day.

I still think theirs was better.


And what's a birthday without a made-from-scratch, dripping-with-chocolatey-goodness-and-calories cake, right? (Don't forget to accidentally top it with one trick candle for extra fun!)


Happy birthday, sweetheart! I hope you have the greatest day ever and that you don't eat all the Oreos I gave you in one sitting.

(Although if you do, I can't get mad under the protection of Birthday Clause #17, which states that the birthday person is legally allowed to forego all his/her usual healthy habits for 24 hours or until the end of the birthday celebrations, whichever is longer.)

Here's to the big 2-6, you handsome man, you!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Anatomy of a Messy Kitchen

Thank goodness the weekend is finally here, even if it does just mean that I have this mess to look forward to cleaning up:




Bring it on, kitchen.

Happy weekend, friends!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Most Unsafe Park in the World


Welcome to Marble Park in Tremonton, Utah--the least kid-safe park in the entire world.

But with that said, it might just be the coolest park I've ever been to.


See that horse sculpture on the left? Looks lovely and relatively harmless, right? Well, as you can probably already tell from the photo on the right, it is made of barbed wire.

Yes.

Barbed wire.

But it is lovely.




All safety matters aside, Matt and I spent a simply delightful afternoon there in an impromptu Meidell family reunion. (For your info, these spontaneous parties are actually pretty common when it comes to Matt's family--it makes life rather exciting, actually--you never know when a fiesta is about to go down.)


Cool activities to do at Marble Park:

*Ringing the bells
*Flying around on the little contraption pictured below
*Eating KFC chicken and Taco Bell burritos while catching up on the latest family news
*Trying out the Olympic rings (so sad I didn't get a picture of this!)
*Seeing  how high you can go on the old-fashioned wooden swings
*Seeing how many grandkids can sit across from Grandpa Meidell on the teeter-totter

And,

*Sneaking under and/or over the padlocked building's outer metal fence so we could see what was inside :)






(Note: the picture on the right there just goes to show how very awkward I get when a camera is whipped out and pointed at me)



Until next time, Marble Park!

(Yes, this is the actual sign of the park. See what I'm saying about dangerous?)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday Tell-All


*I read the FUNNIEST story by a student today in my creative writing class--I literally cried when I was re-relating it to Matt tonight when I came home. She was recounting her earliest childhood memory, which involved her wanting to play with her brother's Lincoln Logs. Her brother told her she couldn't play with them, but she kept bugging him until he gave in. As he threw the Lincoln Logs at her feet, he said, "Just wait--I'll give you your payback later." Suddenly, before she knew what was happening, he had yanked the Lincoln Log container (a narrow cardboard cylinder) over her head and shoulders. Terrified because she couldn't see, she tried to run to her mom's room, only to hit wall after wall after wall. When she finally reached the other room, all her mother did was laugh and take pictures before she spent half an hour yanking the thing off her head.

*Oh man, I just wanted to die I was laughing so hard...

*The picture above was taken at the world's least kid-safe park in the world, which I'll be doing a post on tomorrow. (That's not its name of course, but it might as well be.)

*Last week, we had our Back to School Assembly, where they had a "new teacher initiation" competition. Basically what it consisted of was each new teacher being given a rolled-up shirt that had been entirely frozen, and we had to find a way to unroll it and put it on a student volunteer as fast as we could. So in front of hundreds of screaming students, I was frantically whacking the frozen shirt over and over again onto the gym floor before I hurled the thing apart and jammed it over the head of a semi-unwilling 6th grader (who had forgotten that he volunteered to have a cold shirt shoved over his head). The worst part? I barely lost to one of the sixth-grade teachers. Boo. The second worst part? I broke off two nails. Double boo. But I did get a free school shirt and a jumbo Symphony bar, so...all is well.

*I haven't bought new clothes for MONTHS, people--MONTHS. And I'm kind of dying inside because I'm so stinking sick of my closet. Sooo...Matthew and I just might be taking advantage a wee bit of a great Kohl's sale going on right now. I probably shouldn't, but...it's almost my birthday....so that means I can, right?

*Speaking of birthdays, Matt's is on Monday. Every time I try and ask him what kind of dinner he wants or what kind of cake I should make, he just says, "Whatever you want. I don't care." Grrrr. I wish that on just one day per year, he could make up his mind.

*Maybe that's what I'll ask for on my birthday...

*Please tell me your significant other does the same?

*Other than all that, life's been pretty standard here at the Meidell house--me talking incessantly about school, Matt incessantly studying his brains out, and both of us watching way too many reruns of Big Bang Theory (in preparation for the day when we can get the new season).

*Any excitement going on in your life so I can live vicariously through you?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Just What the Doctor [Would Have] Ordered

My recipe for feeling better quick:
 

Fresh (homemade!) Italian bread right out of the oven,
 

 
My first-ever experimental stew (that tasted a lot better than it looks--swear!),
 
 
And, of course, a DP.
 
You know, I firmly believe that if you listen closely enough, your body will tell you exactly what it needs. Some days I've even had it crave foods that I don't even LIKE (ahem, salmon!), which I'm convinced is due to the fact that it knows which foods have which nutrients.
 
Guess what it needed this weekend?
 
*A cancellation of plans on Friday night so I could stay home, get my feet rubbed, do a little light reading, and take a short pre-bed nap,
 
*A spontaneous (but low-key) family reunion on Saturday (more on this on Wednesday),
 
*A whole lotta not-cleaning the house,
 
*And a generous smattering of cuddles, episodes of Downton Abbey, and blanket-hogging.
 
I feel about a million times better.
 
Thanks for being so smart, Body!

Friday, September 14, 2012

This Is What My Weekend Will Look Like


My immune system could only hold up against the onslaught of pathogens brought in by 150 middle-schoolers for so long.

I am sick.

I think it's something like a cross between extreme hayfever and a touch of the flu, but I don't really know for sure.

What I do know is that teaching today while all doped up on Mucinex and Allertec was, well, interesting. We'll leave it at that.

Therefore, I will be consuming large amounts of hot beverages in my Nightmare Before Christmas cup, taking naps whenever possible, and basically just living in my sweats and this awesome owl shirt.

Cheers to the weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

No More Trying To Be Superwoman: The Power of Focus


I have a 40-minute commute each way to my job at the middle school and so, to pass the time, I've been listening to audiobooks about how to become rich (since, as a schoolteacher, I've got such a great chance of that).  While there have been many similarities among the books (invest young, buy real estate, stay out of debt, make lots more money--duh), one thing that has struck me is that every single one has talked explicitly about the importance of focus in the quest of becoming rich.

One book I'm in the middle of right now--Automatic Wealth for Grads, by Michael Masterson--talked about how there are basically two types of ambitious people in the world: there are the ambitious people who choose one thing to work on at a time and concentrate on it with laser-like focus until they achieve it, and then there are the ambitious people who divide their attention among the many different goals they have.

I decided to ask my 7th graders which group they thought would perform better. About 2/3 thought that the people who concentrated on many different goals at the same time would accomplish much more in the end than the people who just concentrated on one.

They were wrong.

(Don't worry--I broke it to 'em gently.)

Numerous studies have shown that our brains are actually not wired to multitask--in fact, according to most research, the concept of "multitasking" is misleading because it actually doesn't exist; our brains are genetically incapable of focusing on more than one thing at a time. Therefore, when we spread out our focus amongst many things, we actually tend to get LESS done.

Why do I bring this up?

I'll tell you why:

It's because it's like I have this gene that keeps telling me that I need to be Superwoman all the time. This Superwoman Gene keeps whispering in my ear that I need to not only keep a perfectly clean apartment, excel at my teaching job, read a book every week, cook a hot (nutritious) meal every night, exercise for an hour every day, and daily work on developiug my talents, but also that I need to look ridiculously good while doing it all. Basically, for most of my life, I've been a perpetual multi-tasker.

As a result, I've also been perpetually stressed out.

Then I started thinking about those times in my life when I have actually just focused on one main thing, like when I was training for the marathon, or when I served a mission for my church, or when I lost 10 pounds last summer.

And you know what? Those are some of my proudest accomplishments (at least my most recent ones). And I'm convinced the reason why I did so well at them is because I just let myself focus on one main goal at a time instead of trying to accomplish all of my goals at once. The coolest part? Often, when I've focused on just one thing, I've gotten it done so much more quickly. I mean, I lost ten pounds in a month! That's amazing! And it's because I let myself have that laser-like focus until the very end.

SO, the way I'm going to translate this focus-on-one-thing concept into immediate action is this:

1: Decide on ONE main goal that I'm going to focus on right now

For me, this one's easy--I need to focus on applying and getting into grad school.

2. Break down all the things I have to do to accomplish the goal into a manageable to-do list with a timetable

I need to:

-Sign up for the GRE - September
-Study for the GRE (30 minutes each night, alternating Language and Math)  - Sep & Oct
-Take the GRE - mid-October
-Fill out the grad school application  - November, as soon as GRE scores are in
-Turn in the application   - November
-Figure out how I'm going to finance the whole endeavor  - Start now

3. Learn to ease up on my other goals in the process of going for my main goal

-Don't freak out about the messy house
-Don't freak out about me not exercising every day
-Don't freak out if we sometimes order pizza for dinner


Now, this is not to say that we should completely let ourselves go while we're going for our one main goal. Rather, I think that it's a matter of keeping up the best you can with the good habits you already have and waiting to acquire/work on new ones until you've accomplished what you've set out to do.

One thing I keep telling myself?

The only reason I haven't accomplished everything I've dreamed of is simply because I haven't YET devoted the focus towards doing so.

But I will.

And I will now.

Hope this made sense--thanks for reading until the end    :)

What big goal do you want to work on next?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday Tell-All



*Every morning on the way to work, I see the most mind-blowing sunrises. I finally decided to bring my camera with me yesterday to try and capture it, and what these pictures don't tell you is how dangerous trying to take pictures of a sunrise behind you is--I not only almost lost the camera, but I kept going across that teeth-chattering bumpy part in the middle that wakes up drowsy drivers. But I got the pictures! Mission accomplished.

*So guess where the best place to eat in Tremonton is? The hospital. I'm totally not even kidding--I was skeptical at first (despite literally everyone telling me that that was just the way it was), but then I tried it, and I've been hooked ever since. Pretty much I look forward to days when I don't have enough time to pack a lunch because they mean that - woo hoo! - I get to have the daily lunch special. I'm telling you, you've gotta try it. Today they had fresh-made churros for dessert and everything.

*I haven't exercised in over three weeks now and am basically feeling like a blob. The trouble is, I come home so tired from working a ten or eleven-hour workday that I don't have the energy to work out, and heaven knows that I'm not going to wake up at 4:30 to do it. What should I do? Do you have any solutions?

*I love this time of year. Not only do I adore the slightly cooler weather and the stunning fall leaves, but I just live for the abundance of fruits and vegetables that just seem to present themselves to me in beautiful, free-of-charge bundles. Why just today I picked up about ten homegrown tomatoes from the school, since the other teachers have been putting out all the surplus produce from their vegetable gardens. I'm going to make homemade salsa tonight, and it's going to be wickedly tasty. You're welcome to come over it and try it, if you'd like :)

*While we're on the subject of fresh vegetables, on Sunday I had the most amazing tomato-and-mayo sandwich, something I haven't eaten since I was a kid. Sure, it helped that my mother-in-law had just made the greatest whole wheat bread to put it on, but still--I think I'm going to have to start eating those puppies every day until I run out of the little red suckers.

*Wanna know a horrible truth? I can't remember the last time our apartment was clean. It goes back to the same excuse of having no energy after work and not wanting to wake up earlier. Of course, let's be honest--I've never been hot at housekeeping. But I'm just putting it out there again so no one expects too much when they come over...

*Today, I realized something totally weird--I was mentioning the fact that it was 9/11 to my students, and then I remembered that they're only 12 or 13, so they wouldn't be old enough to even remember it happening. When I pointed this out, I had a couple students adamantly raise their hands and claim that they DID remember it. When I pressed for details, they said, "Yeah--I remember when my family went to New York and saw it. It was only a year ago." It was crazy to think that they don't have that as part of their memory bank, just because I remember it so very vividly. My heart goes out to all those who lost family and friends on this day eleven years ago, and I'll do the best I can to make sure the students of today never forget this historic day.

*To close, I'll share a rather ridiculous (and embarrassing) story from Back to School night a couple weeks ago. The more I think about this, the more horrified I get about it. So this dad came in to see me and pick up his son's locker combination for him (since his son was at a football game), and I asked him how tall his son was, so I could know whether to give him a top locker or a bottom locker. When the father said "Oh, he's pretty tall," I jokingly replied, "Hopefully not so tall that he's going to beat me up." (Mostly I was just saying this because the father was just awkwardly staying in the room instead of leaving quickly, like the other parents). Then he gave me a super weird look and said, "I think I can prevent my son from hitting on a teacher." My face went bright red and I tried to retrace my steps and explain what I had actually said. All you need to know is that it was very uncomfortable and that now I'm dreading seeing that parent again at parent/teacher conferences. The worst part? I can't remember whose parent it actually was...

*Anyway, hope that gave you a little chuckle (or at least made you glad that you're not an awkward first-year teacher). Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 10, 2012

What Fun Is


What Fun Is:

*Rickety white-turning-brown roller coasters that are thrilling mostly due to the fact that you're not sure if they're going to kill you or not

*Smooth-consistency blue rasberry Icees shared between lovers (and by lovers, I mean me and the hubby. It would NOT be fun just watching someone else enjoy all that goodness).

*Reading the sign on a particular water ride that says, "You will get wet, you may get soaked!" and laughing. Then coming off that same ride drenched from head to foot, and not entirely laughing. But laughing a little bit.

*Getting free hamburgers and potato salad for lunch (whipped-cream-topped Jell-o, too!) because your stepdad works for Questar, who sponsored this whole day of fun

*Watching your hubby ride the awesomest roller coaster in the park for the first time (Wicked, in this case), and hearing him giggle like a pre-adolescent middle schooler

*Both getting almost-sick on the brand new, spin-you-all-directions-while-going-upside-down Air Waves ride. Then laughing like 15-year-old dweebs and saying, "Yeah! So cool!"

*Watching all the teenagers desperately seeking attention from the opposite sex, and being so glad that you're finally over that stage. (Although, let's admit--you know you did the same thing!)


So thanks Lagoon, for truly defining what fun really is.
 
And thanks to my hubby, who knows that we're not as young as we used to be and knows when to call it quits because all the fun that will be had has been had :)
 
We lasted six hours, btw.
 
We are old indeed :)
 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ladies' Night Out


Every time I go out for a ladies' night, I always think to myself, "Why on earth do I not do this more often?" I mean, I love spending time with the hubby and all (of course), but sometimes a little woman-to-woman chat time is exactly what the mental doctor ordered.

I served with all these women (plus one, who is out of town) in one of the leadership organizations in our church, and since I was recently moved to the young women's organization, I've really missed their company. We decided to all get together since our lives seem to keep pulling us in all different directions (one has already moved, and one more is moving soon). We all met up at Firehouse Pizza, where we enjoyed massive amounts of cheesy dishes (plus side salads, of course) and a whole lot of catching up.

Thanks ladies, for the charming evening--it seriously was exactly what I needed!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Youth Conference 2012


I can't believe it's taken me this long to finally get around to posting about youth conference, which was almost two weeks ago. I'm telling you, this new teaching job is kicking my trash . . . or at least stealing any semblance I had of free time.

Since Matt and I are both involved in the leadership of the youth, we both got to go on this little trip together, which was wonderful. Even though our youth conference was short (only about 24 hours total, really), it was an awesome trip.

We spent Friday night up at a neighbor's family's ranch property, where we staked our tents, ate Polish sausages, and cooked s'mores over the largest fire pit I've ever seen in my life.


Later in the evening, we played Beanboozled, this absolutely hilarious group party game that involves Jelly Belly's Beanboozled beans and a deck of cards. In case you're not familiar with this particular line of jelly beans, there are two flavors of jelly bean for every single color of bean in the box. The catch? One flavor is good, the other is truly nauseating (think Black Licorice or Skunk Spray, Juicy Pear or Booger, Chocolate Pudding or Dog Food). The goal of the game is to not have to eat a bean, which is determined by the cards.

Pretty much I haven't laughed that hard in a very long time (and I laugh on a regular basis).

The awesomest part?

I never had to eat a bean.

Ha ha.


I wish I could have gotten a video of the game, but my camera's batteries were almost out, so it was a no go. However, I do think that the above pictures capture the spirit of the game rather nicely :)

Early the next morning, we all woke up at 5:20 or so (ugh) to go on a hike up to the source of a local spring. We timed it so that we'd hit the sunrise, and the hike did not disappoint.

However, at this point my camera ran out of batteries, so I only got this single picture of a little nap that one of our young men decided to take on the trail:


Saturday afternoon we all drove home to freshen up and then drive over to Brigham City to check out the temple open house. As usual, the exquisite beauty of yet another LDS temple was just breathtaking, and the absolute attention to detail throughout the whole structure was truly awe-inspiring.

If you're ever driving through Brigham City, you should definitely give it a little peek--you won't be sorry.




And thus wraps up our little youth conference adventure for this year.

Until next summer!
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