Tuesday, January 29, 2013


*The names used for the students are not their real names--for privacy reasons:)

Today was probably the hardest day yet of being a teacher.  I have never left the school crying or so discouraged that I didn't want to go back.  But today I left thinking that my heart was going to break.  The day started out like any other.  I arrived at school a little before 7.  It's always just me and the janitor for a good hour.  I love that time of morning because I am able to finish my last preparations in peace and quiet As 8:45 draws near I am scurrying around making sure pencils are sharpened and everything is in its place because I know that once the school day starts there is no break.  I want to give all of my attention to those sweet children.  I finish up just as the first few trickle in.  They walk in and they see that the snowmen that we made have been bowling--oh the things that snowmen do at night.  Their excitement bubbles over and they are quick to believe.  They act as though they haven't seen me in years and pour out kind and generous greetings.  They are talking over each other because the things that they did last night were the most significant things ever to take place in the history of the world and it is their job to inform me because they know I care--painted blocks for family home evening, macaroni and cheese for dinner, reading the favorite book before bed, falling on the ice, losing a tooth.  I remind those that have forgotten to get their folders out to do so before the bell rings and they quickly react because they want to please, they want to be obedient.  They sit at the rug for a few minutes, visiting with friends and reading books.  I love watching them.  I love their interactions.  I love their innocence.  The joy that they express when they find sight words like the, of or from fills the room.  The bell rings and they quickly put their books on the shelf and sit "railroad crossing" at the rug.  They want to earn their "train tickets."  We go over the calendar and do sharing bags.  They love when they get to be spotlighted.  They love themselves just as much as they love others.  We talk about animals that live in the zoo because we are talking about the letter Z.  We discuss where those animals come from.  Somehow we get on the subject of Africa.  One little one raises his hand and says, "I have been to Africa!  I went there when I went to Sea World and Disneyland!"  Everyone believes him and he is now the coolest person in the classroom for the next .5 seconds until another comment is made.  They yearn to share and learn.  While I sneak over to the computer to quickly submit attendance I turn on their new favorite song: Tootie-Ta.  They crack up as they sing and dance with each other.  I can't even join them for the last part of the song because I am laughing so hard.  We line up at the door and see how fast we can be standing like lowercase Ls.  They make it in 3 seconds.  We take a bathroom break and play silent games in the hall until everyone is finished.  When we walk back in the classroom I remind them to pick up their folders and move to their phonics tables.  Even after following the same routine for almost 5 months, one child comes to me and asks me what phonics table she sits at.  I refer to the charts on the wall that have the seating arrangements and then she is able to independently figure it out.  They are all sitting like Leo the Lion because they want to earn puff balls.  It always puts a smile on my face when I am able to say, "All tables, Choo!  Choo!"  And they respond with a loud, "Puff!  Puff!" in unison.  They are pleased with themselves.  We review the alphabet and share words that have the /u/ sound in them.  We actually come up with 11 words in 2 minutes.  The aides come into the room and we split into small groups.  My supplies manager thinks he has won the lottery as he passes out the supplies to each table.  Work is play.  We review all of our letters, sounds, and sight words.  Everyone at my table earns all of their tally marks and Ken actually gets a token.  A shiny, plastic token--what could be better?  They do their best writing on their worksheets and then we revise some writing together.  They are easily distracted and must frequently be reminded of what they should be doing.  Their drawings are my favorite--it is exciting to see what they see.  They are so excited for recess and will do anything they are asked to be able to go outside.  We are running a little bit behind.  Coats and gloves are put on but zippers are still a struggle for a few of them.  They leave the room with two of the aides and there is finally some peace and quiet--but after 30 seconds I miss them and can't wait until they will be back after 10 minutes.  They arrive late and most are smiling, but there are a few in tears because their hands and feet are cold.  They sit at the rug anxious to continue learning.  The activity planned will not work with their wet clothes and the lack of time.  Back-up plan is made on the spot.  They move to their tables and color zoo animals in preparation for a center activity.  One colors his giraffe purple and his tiger is green.  The child next to him spends the whole time coloring the hippopotamus with shading and color mixing.  Parents begin to walk into the classroom for centers.  As their children notice that they are there the can hardly keep concentrating on their work--their parents are their idols.  We split into centers--animal name syllables at the green table, making a zoo at the yellow table, animal face painting at the red table, and writing at the blue table.  The classroom is filled with the sounds of positive and educational conversations.  The students are working well together.  Time goes so fast and before I know it, it is time for the first rotation.  I ring the bell and the students rotate.  They are excited to do each activity.  Things are going smoothly.  The help of the parents is marvelous.  I am blessed to be able to wander from center to center and have some one-on-one time with the students.  I ring the bell and another rotation occurs.  I suddenly realize that there is something wrong at the red table.  Kayla is upset about something.  She wants to use the red colored pencil to paint her face but Chris had it first.  I try to calm her but she becomes more and more upset and resistant.  Time is up for that center and my aide rings the bell.  Kayla starts crying.  She didn't have enough time to finish painting her face.  She is devastated.  The more I try to talk to her and explain things the more inconsolable she becomes.  She starts screaming and yelling and throws herself on the floor.  Her face was red but now it is turning white.  I try to help her up and comfort her but she scurries under the table.  The rest of the class is silent and is watching in awe.  I am completely overwhelmed and don't know what to do with the poor child.  Coaxing her to come out from under the table is getting us no where.  The aide goes and gets someone from the office to help.  Patty is our life saver.  She is able to get Kayla's attention even though she is still screaming and yelling as she takes her out of the classroom.  I sigh.  I am overwhelmed and frustrated--not with Kayla but with the situation Kayla is living in.  She comes from a broken home.  Her life is unstable and I know that she has experienced some awful and traumatizing things.  Her reaction to what happened during centers was not because she didn't have the red colored pencil; it was because she is hurting.  I wanted so badly to throw my arms around her and tell her that I understood.  I wanted her to know that I love her.  I wanted her to know that I was someone safe in her life and that school is a place of safety and refuge.  Kayla's consistent acting out tells me that something is happening in her life and she needs love.  She is not a typical 5 year old.  Something has dampened the trust and happiness and innocence of that beautiful little girl.  Something out of her control and out of her power.  Something unfair.

Suddenly it hit me how much I can relate to Kayla--how we can all relate to her.  We all have things that take place in our lives that are unfair--often because of the poor use of another's agency.  Inside we may be screaming and yelling and kicking because we are hurting so badly and we want someone to come to our rescue.  It is so hard for me to see others in a situation like that--and usually I am unaware.  We are all fighting inner battles that are unseen to those around us.  But when I am aware, I am often overwhelmed and hurt for the person.  I don't want them to experience hard things.  My hope lessens because I realize how many bad things happen to people in this world who are undeserving--and that it won't stop until the Savior comes again.  I don't want anything bad to happen until then.  I was sharing these feelings with a friend and her words really touched me:
It does happen--but not because any of us want it to.  The only way you would be able to prevent it (and every other horrible event that happens in this world of ours) is to take away agency.
God gave us agency.  It is a gift.  I do not want to take it away.  People will continue to use their agency in inappropriate and unfair ways that will hurt themselves and others, but people will more often use it in wonderful ways to bless their lives and the lives of others.  As for the inappropriate uses, that is why we have a Savior.  I love this little snippet from Preach My Gospel (p. 52):
As we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses, and pain.  We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation.  All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  
I am so thankful for the Savior of this world.  I am thankful to know that there is hope--that He is the hope.  Even though I cannot always be there for Kayla and for all others who are struggling, He will be.  He loves us and will never abandon us.  "All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ."  That is truth.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I am finally going to catch up on my blog!  This is going to be a long post--feel free to just scan through the pics if you get bored:)

First of all, I couldn't believe this display of Christmas lights!  This is a house that is about a mile away from my house and after passing it a number of times and getting a kick out of it, I had to stop and get out of the car to capture it so I could share it with the rest of you.  From the first picture you see a blow up thing with lights in the background.
Now take a look at the second picture.  Are you seeing it?  No less than a foot behind the blow-up is a nativity scene.  I think it is a visual of commercialism taking over the true meaning of Christmas.  Seriously, I don't get it!  It cracks me up!  From the street you can barely catch a glance of the nativity scene.  I hope that you find it as oddly humorous as I did:)
 The days leading up to Christmas are some of my absolute faves!  On the 23rd my Dad and I delivered all of our neighbor gifts.  I loved every minute of it!  Growing up my parents always made it a priority to visit neighbors, and especially the elderly, in our ward.  Our neighbors are like family.  It was fun to make our way around the neighborhood sharing gifts and love.  One of my most favorite memories of Christmas 2012.  After delivering we watched Home Alone with my sister and nephews.  I LOVE that movie!  It is a Christmas classic.  And my nephews were cracking me up!  They were just as scared as Kevin when the heater in the basement would turn on!  Check out that pic:
Christmas Eve was pretty fabulous!  Last year some family members went to Costco and bought a bunch of food and then delivered it to different waiting rooms at the University Hospital.  We had the blessing of joining them this year.  It was so fun to buy all of the food items with those who would be in the hospital in mind.  There were about 20 of us and we were able to provide food to four of the waiting rooms.  As we talked to the people in the waiting rooms we felt of the Spirit of Christmas--love.  It was another memory never to be forgotten.
 We stopped at my grandparents' home and spent the rest of the afternoon with them before talking to this special Elder!!!  We got to Skype with Corbin and it was soooo awesome!  He sounded so good and his laugh was just the same.  All of the family was over so he had the chance to talk to everyone.  Isn't he such a stud?  It was amazing to hear him speak the Thai language and to hear the joy in his voice that can only come from missionary service.  It was a bit of a heartbreaker to end the conversation with him, especially when we all got a little teary-eyed.  Can't wait to talk to him again on Mother's Day!
By the time we hung up with him it was 8:30 and we hadn't had dinner.  We cruised to the Asian Star--one of our family favorite restaurants--to celebrate Brooke's birthday!  YAY!  I love that Brooke's birthday falls on Christmas Eve.  I love celebrating her!  She is the best big sister ever!  This is the fortune that I found in my cookie.  It got me thinking that I was maybe going to get a husband for Christmas:)
 It was kind of weird just having me and Carli sleeping at home on Christmas Eve.  We opened our Christmas pajamas and then headed off to bed.  It was the first time not sleeping in the basement on Christmas Eve but we slept comfortably in the guest room upstairs and enjoyed watching Elf together.  
Christmas morning we usually get up at 5:30 but we didn't roll out of bed until 7 this year!  Seriously, for only four of us opening gifts this is quite the outrageous number of gifts.  My parents are still too used to having 7 kids:)  
 We didn't touch any gifts under the tree but headed out to make the rounds and see all of the grandkids on Christmas morning.  Christmas is so magical for them!  
 Carter was so excited about his kitchen!
 Linc's favorite gift was definitely his RC Ninja Turtle fourwheeler.
 Ella loved her American Girl doll.
 Hannah was excited about everything!
 Crew loved his Spidey jacket.
 Kate couldn't stop playing with her kitchen.
 Ava loved her Minnie Mouse tea set.
 Rhett and Jack couldn't get enough of their iPad minis.

 Trevor was wearing his 4 new sports shirts/jerseys at the same time!
 Ryan was all decked out in his Utah gear.
 Landon is our little entrepreneur and was busy making snowcones for everyone all day long!
I didn't get a picture of Zachary on Christmas morning.  He was taking a little snooze.  
We enjoyed a breakfast of crepes with Brandt and Kelly's family and returned home to open gifts and stockings by 1:00.  I have never had a Christmas without my Grandma and Grandpa Buchanan and they showed up to open gifts with us.  It is such a blessing to have them close by and so involved!  
Carli was sick on Christmas so we gathered her gifts around her and she slowly made her way through them.  
The main theme of my Christmas was Craftsman tools.  Seriously, I am loaded with tools!  I have a staple gun, drill gun, jig saw, wrench set, and a toolbox full of every other tool that you can imagine!  I am stoked about it!  Can't wait to start a project!  I also received so many other wonderful and much-appreciated things: scriptures, beaters, a sonicare airfloss, clothes, shoes, jewelry, books, Costco and Sam's Club memberships...I was spoiled to death!  
 After opening gifts and getting things cleaned up a little bit we had just enough time to shower and prepare some food before the whole family came over for our gift exchange.  It was a wonderful evening together.  I am just so grateful that we can be together as a family during the holiday season.
The days following Christmas were very chill and definitely included Just Dance 4.  Look at those two little cuties dancing their hearts out!  I might have a little bit of an obsession with the game:)
I came back up to Logan for a few days for some very special events!  On the 27th Wendi went through the temple.  I am so thankful that I was able to be there.  I am thankful that Wendi invited me to be:)
On the 28th I went to Tish and Mike's reception.  It was wonderful to spend the evening with them and with other dear friends!
The next day I was very privileged and blessed to attend their sealing.  It was beautiful!  The weather was freezing but at least the sun was shining!  Don't the newlyweds look happy?!!  They sure were.
After the wedding luncheon we went and got steamers to celebrate Carolynn's birthday!  Happy 25th Care!  Goodness!  I don't get to see that girl often enough.
I didn't know what a steamer was before that day so I will share:
These are the steamers.  Milk is the base and then you can choose flavors to mix in.  Yes, it is like hot chocolate.  But if you are not so much a chocolate fan--like me--then they are all the better!  I got the Van Halen steamer which included a mix of vanilla and hazelnut.  It was delicious and warm for a cold winter night.  After the birthday celebrating, I headed back home.
On Sunday evening we continued on with one of our favorite traditions from last year.  We invited a few of the widows over for dinner and we had such a wonderful evening with them.  Each of these ladies is so special to me!  I really consider them grandmas.  Not only are they sweet and kind but they are really funny too!
 On New Year's Eve day (if that makes sense) we did a lot of returns and some shopping.  We made a stop at one of my all-time favorite stores: IKEA!  I think that I love it soooo much because it reminds me of the Netherlands.  And I really LOVE the Netherlands:)  We took a little break in the cafeteria and had some lunch.  
I don't know about you but I definitely didn't get anywhere close to finishing off all 15 of my meatballs.  
We also made a stop at Britt and Marianne's new house.  It is beautiful!  We are going to miss having them so close but 20 minutes really isn't that far.  We are just lucky that they didn't move out of state!  They are getting all settled in just before the baby comes--and he should come any day now!
This is how I felt on New Year's Eve!  But I hung in there until midnight:)  It was a super chill night with Brooke and her boys and LaRae and my parents.  We enjoyed dinner and laughing together.
New Year Day is my Mom's birthday so we always have a fun time celebrating!  This is what my Dad surprised her with and she was ecstatic!  It was my job to somehow get her outside just in time to see it coming down the street loaded with kids and grandkids that love her.  
My mom loves doing yard work and has a trailer that she hooks onto the back of her riding lawnmower that we call the yard nerd--and now she has an ultimate yard nerd!  My Dad really decked the whole thing out to personalize it for my Mom.  Petunia is what my Grandpa Sharp would always call my Mom so it seemed only fitting to have that as the license plate.
And all of the grandkids' names are on the back.  I am sure that they will love this as much as my Mom does:)
That afternoon we had a birthday dinner for my Mom at my aunt Larae's house.  She always does a dinner for my Mom and invites the whole family over.  She is so kind to make the day so special for my Mom.
I had to get a picture with the birthday girl!
The family members who hadn't seen my Mom's gift made a stop at the house to check it out.  Even though Zach is only 1 he has a major obsession with trucks.  This is his face when he saw it:
And the last day of the break was spent taking Christmas down.  I started at 4 in the morning and still wasn't finished by 4 that afternoon--hence the boxes that Linc and Carter were playing in:)  I really wanted to cry when I realized the holidays were all over.  I just love the warmth and joy and love that the Christmas season brings.  But there are lots of memories that I will never forget!  I am just so thankful that I was able to be home for the holidays.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

God is for me...

Just had to share this quote that really touched me.  It is from Jeffrey R. Holland's new book, For Times of Trouble.  
Psalms 56:9
When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.
"This I know;...God is for me."  All confidence, all comfort, all strength, all safety starts there.  "God is for us."  He is never against us.  He will always be against sin, abuse, error in whatever form they come and from whomever they may flow.  But even then He has the divine ability to separate His opposition to the sin from His unyielding love for the sinner.  God is for us.  He loves us.  He is our Heavenly Father.  He never sleeps nor slumbers in His watchcare over us.  His work and His glory are to save us, exalt us, to see us safely home with Him.  "God is for us."  That truth has to be seared into each of our hearts, written in bold letters across the tissue of our brains, and never forgotten.  "God is for me."
My goal this week is to catch up with all of the wonderful things that happened over the holiday break. Many blog posts to come!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas time is here:)

Yesterday was a wonderful and fabulous Christmas-togetherness day!  My dad started a tradition of inviting family to come to Mimi's Cafe for breakfast the Saturday before Christmas.  If you don't know my dad there are a few words that describe him very well: selfless, giving, generous, always thinking of others.  We calculated and came to the conclusion that this was the ninth year of this tradition and it is one of our favorites.  Each year we grow in numbers and this year tops all of the previous years: a whopping total of 42!  He was smart and had everyone order before hand so that when we arrived our food was almost ready.  We had a whole room in the restaurant to ourselves and we enjoyed the time together!  Here are some pictures that didn't turn out so well.  I am most definitely not a photographer-but I am more than happy to take pictures:)

Carli and Zachary waiting to be seated

Brooke, Derek, and Carli

Me and Zach

Derek, Brooke, Lincoln, Carter

Kelly, Landon, Trevor, Ryan, Zach, Brandt

Brooke, Derek, Carli, Carter, Lincoln, Trevor, Jace, Jaxon

LaRae, Brad, Jet, Lance, Mark, Heidi

Grandpa B., Grandma B., Shawn, Brielle, Kim, Baylee, Kelly, Brandt, Janet

Lex, Bryson, Taylor, Maria, Steve, Kris, Tyler, Devon, Lauren

Bev, Marianne, Britt

Ryan, Landon, Jack

Rhett, Kate

Jace, Brielle, Baylee, Kim, Jaxon, Shawn

Lauren, Devon, Bryon, Tyler (Kris and Steve had to leave early)

Grandpa, Bev, Grandma

Grandma, Lance, Grandpa, Mark, Jet, LaRae, Brad, Heidi, Taylor, Maria

Rhett, Kate, Marianne (Britt and Jack had to leave early)

Me, my Dad, my Mom, Carli
 After breakfast we ran over to watch the end of Jack's basketball game.  He is an awesome player!  I love being able to support my nieces and nephews:)
Jack is on the left in the green
We got home just in time for Molly and Jordan (some high school friends who now live in Washington D.C.) to stop by and visit for a few minutes!  It was fun to see them.

I ran with my Mom to get a few things at Sam's Club.  I think that she has been shopping a little too much and her feet are worn out.  This is SO out of character for my Mom.  She seriously walked the whole store in her bare feet.  It cracked me up!
 A few hours later we headed down to my aunt and uncle's house in Orem for the Sharp Family Christmas Party.  We had a great time and it was so much fun to see family that I haven't seen in a long time!
 Instead of the usual white elephant exchange that we do, we did a favorite-Christmas-treat exchange.  I brought a bag of Cuties and I just had to include this fabulous treat:
Yes, doesn't it look divine?!  I received this little bag of goodies from a student this last week.  It looked too good and too tasty to eat on my own.  I just had to share it with someone I love dearly.  From looking at it you can see that it contains many fabulous food items: Chex, Trix, colored marshmallows, chocolate, nuts, and a few mystery items as well as a mystery coating.  I figured that others would feel the same way I do about the treat--that it is just too good to eat.  But to my surprise it became the treat that everyone wanted to/was dared to try!  Matt was the first to taste it...
 and then it continued to make its way around the circle.

 I must admit that I left that party still not trying a smidge of it.  And we still have not been able to identify all of the ingredients:)

 I love seeing these little boys in jammies and being able to cuddle them!  I love the little ones.

It was a wonderful day and I feel more in the Christmas Spirit!  Yay for Christmas and yay for time spent with loved ones.