Thursday, February 26, 2009

Teenagers exhaust me.

Teenagers exhaust me.

They really do.

I am with them all day, every day.

Lucky me.

I assigned them six pages to read last night. Six. They didn’t do it. Most of them cheated their way through the reading quiz by asking friends from other periods what would be on it.

This bugs me.

Teenagers care waaaayy more about their girlfriends and their video games then they do about completing their reading assignment for English—no matter how short, interesting, and do-able that assignment may be.

So then I ask myself, Why would they care about The Catcher in the Rye?

Well, cause it’s a darn good book, and they’d probably actually like it if they gave it a try. Holden is hilarious—and just as pessimistic, sarcastic, and lazy as many of them.

So then I think, How can I get them to try the book?

Well, I could come up with engaging lessons, class activities, and group discussion. I could read them some of the really funny parts to get them interested.

I’ve tried all that.

Didn’t work.

During my first year of teaching, my mentor teacher told me that she once realized that she could’ve swung from the chandelier naked—and two minutes later, the students would’ve been bored again.

Probably true.

So, fine…they’re bored…and they’re not going to do their reading. I can accept that. But what I can’t accept is that they then act entitled to a good grade. Entitled.

Look, peeps, if you don’t do the work, you don’t get the grade.

Why does this seem to be a new concept to them?

Whining, whining, whining. Cheating, cheating, cheating. Sometimes, it’s exhausting.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What I did while I was in Utah...

I had this past week off of school, so I went to Provo, Utah to visit my little sis, who is a loner right now because her husband is in Boot Camp for the Navy Engineering Corps.

This is what I did...

1. traveled twelve hours: left Buffalo at 6:00 a.m., stopped in Cleveland, stopped again in Las Vegas, arrived in SLC at 4:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. EST.) It was a long day! Luckily, my dad's flight from Denver arrived half an hour later, and he had a carry-on bag stocked with his famous homemade Cowboy Cookies and Grandma's homemade Sugar Cookies. That made me feel better.

2. subjected my poor father to hours of girl talk with my little sister. (He came to town to see us and slept on an air mattress in the front room.)

3. jogged my old route in Provo with my dad and marveled at the beautiful mountains I took for granted while I lived here.

4. went for dinner and ice cream with my best friend from high school, Lizzy, and her adorable daughter, Worth. (Lizzy is 8 months pregnant with her second.)

It looks like Worth enjoyed the Leatherbys hot fudge almost as much as I did!

5. ate at all my old favorites: Cafe Rio (3.5 times), Leatherbys, Smart Cookie (2 times), J-Dawgs, and Bombay House.

6. groaned in my bed at night due to perpetual indigestion (see # 5)

7. celebrated my little sissy's 22nd birthday with a girls night to Confessions of a Shopaholic and then a Cadbury mini-eggs, brownie, cookie, and hot fudge feast.

I don't know why her shirt looks 80s metallic in this photo. It was actually striped and very cute.

8. gained 5 pounds (see #5 and #7)

9. announced the Hogar del Nino Project in 10 Therapeutic Recreation classes at BYU, worked one Internship Fair, and gave one Info Session to recruit volunteers and promote the program. Found several good applicants.

10. saw my siblings-in-law kick some butt in a BYU intramural tennis doubles match. (Those Nielsons are great tennis players!) Went to dinner with them afterwards...I love them.

11. shared Cafe Rio salads with two of my very best friends from college, Tia and Becky. I have to say, if this is possible, the company was even better than the food.

12. taught my little sister how to make homemade tomato soup and homemade bread. (See February 13th blog post entitled "As it turns out...")

13. poured hydrogen peroxide in my ears at 2 a.m. to watch it bubble. (It's amazing what stupid things seem funny that late at night with my sister, her sister-in-law, and my sister-in-law...I swear we are all adults.)

14. slept in until 11 a.m. (See #13) and then went to breakfast with one of my favorite people in the world, Heather Balli.

15. traveled 10 hours back home to the Buff. Amazingly, I had no flight delays on any leg of my trip. That truly might be a miracle.

What I did not do while I was in Utah:

1. grade any of the 115 research papers that I lugged along with me. (I was just sure I would have time to grade them all.) Oh well!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Do you know anyone interested in serving abroad?

Ry and I oversee volunteer work at an orphanage for persons with disabilities in El Salvador. We lived in this orphanage right after we got married, and we have been able to return to see the kids every summer since. We also work to recruit others to live and serve in the orphanage for three-month shifts, year-round.

I am writing this post because we are desperate for volunteers, and I'm hoping that you might know some cool people who might be interested in the program. We need to recruit qualified volunteers to work with these kids this summer and fall.

Here's a little bit about the program:

-A pair of volunteers lives in a private little house on the orphanage grounds for about three months. (May-August, September-December)
-The volunteer pair must be married or of the same gender. (We've had married couples, best friends, and sisters go together.)
-One member of the team must be fluent in Spanish.
-Both members of the team must have a desire to work with awesome kids with both mental and physical disabilities--planning activities, classes, and programs, as well as providing individualized love and attention.

If you know ANYONE who might be interested in this program (siblings, friends, old missionary companions), can you let me know? Feel free to give them my contact information!

Thanks for your help. We've had a really hard time recruiting lately...

Friday, February 13, 2009

As it turns out...

As it turns out, I'm a Domestic Goddess and never even knew it. Check this out:

I think this may be the firt time Ryan has ever come home from school to a hot dinner on the table, let alone a romantic scene! Usually, we just grab a bowl of cereal!

Homemade bread and homemade chicken pot pie in one week?! What has gotten into me?! It must be Secret Cupid Week!

Howling Winds and Dancing Queens

Wednesday evening in Buffalo, the winds were a howlin' and the windows were a rattlin', and I woke several times throughout the night and thought, I hope this little apartment doesn't collapse.

In the morning, school was cancelled due to extreme winds and freezing rain and sleet, and good old Rounds Avenue was looking better than ever:

Last week, a friend described our street as "dingy." (We live on the "wrong side" of Eggert, a well-known street in Buff.) Well, a wind storm on the night before trash day made our precious little street a whole lot dingier. (The sad part is, no body will pick up all that litter until Neighborhood Clean Up day in the Spring...Gross.)

On a happier note, Ryan got a dance with Deborah's mom tonight at the church Valentines party. She even gave him a kiss afterwards! Funnest.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Another Deborah-ism...

I think it may be becoming apparent that I am obsessed with this woman. I can't help it; she's just too great.

This Sunday, a special guest church leader was teaching our Sunday School (counselor in the Stake Presidency), and he was teaching us about loving God with all our heart, mind, might, and strength. He asked, "What does it mean to love God with all your strength?"

From the back of the chapel, Deborah hollered...


Loved it. Loved, loved, loved it. If we all had more of a "can do" attitude about life and the trials and tribulations we face, we'd all be happy like Deb.

On a related but more serious note, I recently came across a passage of scripture that I absolutely love:

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8: 35-39

I know I've heard these verses many times in my life, but for some reason, they hit me with particular force as I read them this weekend. There is nothing that can defeat us if we rely on the love and comfort of Christ.

I'm sorry to get all "church-y" (some of you may be thinking, based on my blog posts the last few weeks, that I've suddenly become a religious fanatic), but I seem to be discouraged and overwhelmed too often lately; and I need to remember, that with faith, I "CAN DO!" anything.

Love that woman.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Secret Cupid 2009

When I was young, my mom started a great tradition she called "Secret Cupids." The week before Valentines Day, we'd have a special family night during which we would all draw the name of a family member out of a hat. It was then our quest to surprise that person with a little hidden gift each day as his/her Secret Cupid

Since we were so little and didn't have money or a way to get to the store, my mom would buy a bunch of Valentines candy and little gifts, and she would set up a Cupid Store in her bedroom. We each got ten tickets, which we could use to "purchase" surprises for our secret friend.

Is my mom the cutest or what??

This tradition was a highlight of the year, as we would run home from school to search for our Cupid gift or to sneak a treat into the perfect spot for our person to find. Often, the surprises were not just candy but also acts of service--making the bed, picking up toys, etc. Although it was very, very easy to figure out who your Cupid was (there was only five of us in the family!), we still went to great pains to remain anonymous and undiscovered.

Ry and I have continued this tradition in our courtship and then our marriage--and although it's really not a mystery who my Secret Cupid is each year, I sure love getting little treats and gifts all week long!

Yesterday, I surprised Ryan with a special Valentines breakfast.

The yolk ran a little, but I still thought the heart-shaped eggs/toast was pretty cute!

Today, I made homemade bread for him--my first time ever. Although the loaf turned out to be shaped a little like a butt, it sure tasted DE-licious. (It is a super easy recipe if anyone wants it.)

I must say, Ryan's gifts to me thus far have been quite classy:

It started yesterday with a sappy love songs mix CD he downloaded from iTunes. I think he was a little embarassed when he realized that the playlist included such tasteful and refined favorites as "I'll Make Love to You" by Boyz 2 Men and "Let's Get it On" by Marvin Gaye. Nice, Ry...real romantic.

Today, he made me a rather clever candy-gram--although I think only in my family would Pepto-Bismol be considered a gift/treat. We love the stuff.

I have several funny surprises up my sleeve for Ry and am looking forward to a week of fun!