Lunch-on-the-Lawn was just Jenna and I which ended up to be kind of fun. Jenna is usually in the shadow of her older sister, and I think it was really great for her to have one-on-one time with momma. I brought a picnic lunch with mac and cheese hot off the stove, bowls, classes, utensils and a pitcher of raspberry lemonade. It was really fun and easy to throw together. For dessert we had fudge bars that I kept frozen in our new "Pack-it" lunch bag. After lunch, we had a few moments of mom and Jenna tetherball before the other kids started showing up. It was so great to have this special time together.
Thursday, 9/22/11, was Back-To-School Night at our new middle school. The middle school itself is not new, just new to us. As we sat through the campus introduction and then through each 12-minute presentation by Heather's teachers, I was overcome with the profound assurance that we had made the right decision to move her to this school.
Each of Heather's new teachers presented a message that they 1) enjoy their jobs, 2) want to help their students learn, and 3) will do everything in their power to help their students succeed. I was pretty much tearing up by 6th period. It was as if I had been starving and had just been seated at a banquet.
Aside from the educational perks, Heather has been reporting no shister-like behavior on the playground. We don't hear daily reports of who called her what name, or what foul word someone was experimenting with that day. No catty girls are trying to ensnare her in a trap or leaving her to walk the playground alone. She now has about 12 or so of her very dear friends from growing up or church to hang out with. The naughty words are somewhere across the yard with those lovely language scientists who, I'm sure, are still experimenting away. Heather has a new buffer that money cannot buy.
I jotted down two quotes off the wall in Heather's social studies classroom. Both inspired hope for the good things to come. So far, the school year is looking brighter. Even if it doesn't stay this way, I am grateful for the respite of the past couple of weeks. Last year was a doozy for this momma, and the change of pace thus far has instilled some long-needed peace.
We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
The greater danger for most of us
lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short,
but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.
Reposting two photos tonight that I realized I had more to say about. In the first photo, you can see me hanging on for dear life in the back row with my hub and daughters to the right. The guy on the left is my dad. I love that my dad and I are in this photo, on a terrifying ride (the Tower of Terror at CA Adventure) and having a hysterically good laugh. I love that my dad is still able to do these seriously fun things with me and my girls. How many grandpas ride roller coasters and crazy drop out rides in their 70's? I guess if yours does, you are lucky too.
My dad and I first went to Disneyland together about 42 years ago. He took me on the Matterhorn when I was somewhere around two years old. I'm feeling tons of gratitude tonight that we are still riding roller coasters together all these years later. I hope we get to do for many more years to come. Love you Dad, and thanks for spending my birthday with me.
Today was number 44 for this momma. I spent the morning at brunch with dear friends, part of the afternoon napping (ahhhh) and the rest of the afternoon and evening at Disneyland with my family. It was a wonderful way to spend the day.
Currently, there are some minor things out there that are striking the annoying string on my little happy harp. These things were on my mind, and I thought I'd record them. No offense whatsoever is meant to anyone who does not see an issue with any of these topics. It will most likely be entertaining for my grandchildren to read what their grandmother was waxing neurotic about back in 2011. How old fashioned they'll think their old granny was.
1. The name or discussion of Christ being taboo. Two of my friends have children in lead roles in a high school drama production that consists of a montage of romantic/love scenes from various stage plays. One of the scenes cast involves two high school boys in a gay relationship. Whether you think this is great or not, it's raising flags for me about the range of topics that are publicly acceptable to introduce to our children in a public forum. Go with me here for a minute...For years public education has included many, many diverse celebrations and topics -- Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, the belief in Santa Claus around the world, Leprechauns, the Easter Bunny, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Presidents' holidays, Flag Day, Cinco de Mayo (not even a holiday in Mexico!), Muslim and Islamic traditions, and the inclusion of all types of families (which will now include gay couples). The text books still site chimpanzees as our "ancestors". Nowhere, absolutely no where (except in a portion of the 7th grade social studies textbook which is the last chapter and consequently dropped if the school year ends before they get to it), or on any planet do we teach our kids about Christ. It's simply not allowed. Those who believe in Christ and lead Christ-centered lives are being left out of the instruction. Believe what you will, but lemme tell ya something...our neglect of the topic of Christianity isn't making the world a better place people.
2. The new hot chocolate packets with "a cup of coffee's worth of caffeine" in them. If I wanted my warm beverage to have caffeine in it, I'd have a cup of coffee. Leave my hot chocolate alone! Enough said.
3. Teens and children with cell phones. I get that they need a cell phone, which replaces the dime or quarter their parent's and grandparents used to never leave home without, and I'm not knocking that. But is anyone else nervous about the fact that the cell phone, complete with data package that links directly to Facebook, internet and email, is resembling, on some kids, a physical extension of the thumbs and seems to monopolize said young person's attention when they are somewhere they could actually being enjoying family, friends or activities? It makes me sad, but there isn't much we can do to stop the tide except to beware for ourselves and our kids.
Today was Jenna's second official soccer game. Last week, her mother, who is also team photographer, was so worried about getting all the team members in a variety of shots that she neglected her own girl. Not this week! I remembered to shoot a ton of photos. Here are some highlights. Our favorite is of Jenna and her dear friend, Sarah, playing on opposing sides AND coming up against each other. Love it!
Jenna's defense was out-of-this-world today. We have a fabulous coach whose goals for the girls are that they have fun and learn to play the game. He teaches team work all the way, and we really admire his expertise, humor and patience with the girls. The fact that we've won the first two games is due to the girls' sticking with the plan and playing as a team. We are so proud of the girls for their ability to play together so well that whether they win or lose, the win!
Tonight we drove over to the 9/11 memorial that is next to the Fountain Valley Library. A local Eagle Scout made the memorial possible along with his troop. It is very simple, but its presence is powerful. After watching a portion of a documentary last night with the girls and discussing the events of September 11, 2001, viewing this piece of the World Trade Center tower was amazing.
Ten years ago today, we woke early to get an jump start on our Disneyland trip. My sister was visiting with her son, and my aunt planned to meet us at the front gates. Somewhere in the quiet bustle of the early morning, my husband called and told me to turn on the television. We did not comprehend what we were looking at and sat down to watch and listen. After confirming that Disneyland, and many other places, would not open that day, we sat on the sofa for hours.
I watched the events of that horrible morning grateful that my two-year-old daughter and eleven-month-old nephew were too young to understand what they saw as they toddled in and out of the living room throughout the day. It was impossible for us to comprehend the magnitude of what had taken place. I sat, pregnant with my second daughter, and wondered what kind of world I was bringing her into.
Each year as we mark the of the anniversary of 9/11, I am very appreciative to stop and reflect. We are teaching our growing daughters more each year about freedom, why we enjoy it and the extraordinary men and women who make it possible. They are just old enough to begin to comprehend tragedy and sacrifice, and every year, they understand just a little bit more. We will teach them again this year about the significance of the 9/11 anniversary, and we will remember those men and women who are still battling and sacrificing abroad to protect our freedom.
As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, many of us are reflecting and expressing our thoughts. My friend, Amy Henstra, penned the following post on her blog. Her words were so well expressed that I asked her permission to re-post them here. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. The American Flag has always stirred something inside me. Even as a child, I can remember staring at the flag against a bright blue sky and feeling...well, patriotic. Grandfathers on both sides of my family have served and fought in wars. As 9/11 approaches I have really been pondering what good I have done for my country. Although, I am not a soldier, do not carry a gun, or risk my life to defend, honor and uphold God and country... I am making a difference. One child at a time. One life at a time. It is my hope that my gratitude bleeds over into all those I come in contact with. With all the war, sadness and depression in this world there is much to be thankful for. That is where Light comes in. In opposition to war is peace. Joy in your heart. Gratitude to a soldier. It is so hard for me not to hug a soldier in uniform! When I see them in the store I get a lump in my throat. My desire is so strong to do MORE. Then I remember that the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world. Mothers, do not doubt your ability to raise good people. The world needs them in every capacity. Soldiers, teachers, workers, builders, preachers, people who inspire and uplift this weary world. And everyone of them has a Mother. Be kind to your children. Be loving to your spouse. Share a smile with a stranger. We can make a difference. By spreading light. I encourage you to read, study and pray how you can bless the lives of those around you. I still pray for those whose lives changed on 9/11. All of us were changed, but some lost everything. I think about them nearly every day. So many lives lost. Our soldiers continue to give their lives... let us give them hope. Be the change YOU wish to see in the world. It all starts with you. As for me.... well. My colors are flying high and free thanks to those who DO defend our freedom. May God bless them all. Wherever they may be. Thank you. Freedom is never free.
The first day went well. Very, very well. I actually wondered what the good fairy had done to my children. The girls woke up early with no complaints after sleeping in all summer (and I mean sleeping in as in breakfast bordered on being called lunch most days), got ready for school, and we were out the door by 7:15 a.m. to go help hand out p.e. clothes at the middle school. Getting up early and getting rid of the harried rush and "hurry up" scenario is definitely the way to go.
Heather was admitted to Fulton after a new 7th grade teacher was hired. Her year may not be much different academically, but when her friend's car pulled into the parking lot, and her friend rolled down the window and squealed, "Heather!!!!!!" before jumping out of the car and running for hugs, I knew switching schools was the right decision. Heather's day went splendidly, new braces and all. In fact, the new braces hurt less on day 2 than the spacers had on day 2. It was a welcome surprise.
Jenna had a great day also. She got the teacher we requested should have a stellar academic year. This will be the first time since the 2007-2008 school year that I am sending both my girls to school without the feeling of dread lingering during the day. I am a happy momma.
They are on! We have a brace-face in the house! She was a great patient, and they went on in 45 minutes or so. Heather spent the rest of the day trying out words that now sound different with her knew "whistle", and she also made faces most of the day which I interpreted as her working to try and fit her lips around the new bulk comfortably. She looks adorable, and so far, the braces are less painful than the spacers were (at least for the first 24 hours). I am considering employment at Jamba Juice since it will fulfill both the need for income and the discount on smoothies as these have become the new and necessary lunch of choice. The most fun was shining a flashlight on her teeth at bedtime and then turning out the lights to view her glow-in-the-dark brackets. She was a complete Cheshire Cat! If you're going to have a mouth full of metal for two years, you might as well be able to glow in the dark, right?
We had a Back-to-School Feast tonight inspired by the Nielsons over at The NieNieDialouges. Our theme was borrowed from a past Nielson feast, and it fit perfectly for us this year. When I read the words, "Learn With Joy," I knew we needed this theme.
In preparation for the feast, I made a crown for each daughter (the crown represents their divine nature), place cards for the table, and little cupcake toppers with the theme written on them. I found a fun shirt for each girl and wrapped that for some extra excitement. Our dinner consisted of slow-cooked BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, peas and a choice of root beer or cream soda. Dessert was a family favorite from our cupcake project, Mint Brownie Cupcakes.
After dinner, we had a little family night lesson centered around our theme. We read the scripture Jacob 4:3 (from The Book of Mormon) that contains the theme, and also some of the words of our past LDS Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley in his book, Standing for Something. President Hinckley was an advocate of improving ourselves through learning. He was in his 90's when he declared that he still wasn't done and was still learning all the time. We discussed learning as a privilege that many in the world cannot partake in. The girls were surprised to know that in some countries, people are uneducated while in others, girls are not allowed to go to school. We also talked about tackling things that are hard and how we could do that. Everyone came up with a plan for eating a large cake, and we decided that the way to eat it is one bite or one slice at a time.
We hope that there was some meaning for our girls tonight. School has been such a drudgery, and we really needed a positive spin (the momma included). We are grateful to live in a country where we can educate ourselves, worship freely and obtain the necessary materials for our emotional, physical and spiritual growth. We'll continue to discuss the theme now and then and check in with each other. We're praying for a successful and happy year. These cuties look ready, don't you think?
Thursday morning, we had a get-it-done day. We took paperwork over to the middle school and then headed to the mall. Our first stop was Calire's where Heather got her ears pierced. Woot! It was a must do before school started.
After Claire's, we grabbed lunch at Ruby's Diner and hit the Border's Bookstore closeout (score for the bibliophile!). Then it was across the street to use our Color Me Mine gift cards from Christmas (thanks Aunt Michelle!). Heather and Jenna both kicked in money to buy their perfect item. Heather painted a dragon, and Jenna painted a mermaid. Notice Heather's cute pierced ears and Jenna's new clip-on earrings.
Friday was full of friend time with Heather at Grace's house and Jenna with the Holbrooks at Newport. I used those hours to hit Target and stock up on groceries. I love my new Target Debit Card. If you don't have one, it's worth it to get the 5% off. That little bit adds up over time, and Target's prices are pretty good.
After dinner we made the Ultimate Chocolate Shake. The recipe is from somewhere years ago, and it was so good, it's the only homemade shake I make. They are not kind to the waistline, so we don't do this too often. This was actually the girls' first time tasting them.
1/2 C milk
4 Tbs. chocolate syrup
4 Tbs. malted milk powder (original or chocolate)
4 C softened ice cream
Blend mild, syrup and malt powder; add ice cream.
This recipe makes two hearty shakes. The Breyers carton above worked perfectly for a double batch.
I'm a wife and mother of two of the sweetest girls ever. In my former life, I was an elementary school teacher. I love learning and sharing experiences, and the chance to journal for posterity. I wish I knew as much about my ancestors as my posterity is going to know about me!