Michelle and Gavin departed on Tuesday morning, but not before a trip to Gavin's favorite restaurant in Placentia. I was very proud of my girls for trying this authentic Mexican food, and it was fun to visit for a few more minutes before we said good-bye. We spent the rest of the day at home where I did some cleaning and nursed a headache. We'd been eating out a lot, but we grabbed Del Taco for taco Tuesday dinner and watched the Olympics late into the evening.
Grandpa departed for home on Sunday, and the rest of us went to church. We had a relaxing day at home with yummy, homemade tacos for dinner.
Monday was a beach day in Newport. The kids love the gentler waves and softer sand. They would have stayed all day if we let them. Michelle and I chatted and read our books. She read three whole books while she was here. Go sister!
Michelle and I squoze in another quick shopping trip and then we all had dinner at Slater's 50/50, a build-your-own burger restaurant in Huntington Beach. The burgers were gigantic as was Heather's pastrami sandwich. Since this was Michelle and Gavin's last night, we made a late run to Farrell's in Mission Viejo for some yummy ice cream. I'm so glad Farrell's is back. I loved it when I was little.
Saturday was Bridal Shower hostessing day for me. We threw a shower for my friend's daughter, Brittany, and it went off splendidly. Aunt Michelle, Grandpa and the kids met Kelly down at the beach after his volleyball games, and they enjoyed some glorious beach time while I was at the shower. One can never have too much beach time.
We've been sharing our wonderful California Mission trips with Michelle and Gavin and on this visit we wanted to get a Mission tour in. Santa Barbara was our favorite, but I was impression on Jenna's recent school field trip to San Juan Capistrano, so we gave it a go. Grandpa was able to make this trip with us (he had an appointment while we were in LA), and we were able to use the audio sets and tour some of the areas the school didn't tour, so parts of the mission were new to us. It was great to hear some of the history and take our time viewing everything. I think Gavin liked the ghost story at the end of the day. We had a late lunch at the Mission Grill just across the street, and had pretty good luck with traffic on the way home. Michelle and I even got a little shopping in at some stores around home while the kids relaxed.
On Thursday we headed out for a full day of touristy sight-seeing. Neither my sister nor I had ever visited the La Brea Tar Pits, and it had been 4th grade when we were last at the Griffith Observatory. We arrived at the Tar Pits around noon and enjoyed a couple of hours touring the museum indoors, the gardens and the stinky, stinky tar pits. Side note: they were tarring our street at home so either way, we were getting tar fumes up our nose today! It is amazing to think that all of these bones were buried here in Los Angeles! This was a fascinating way to learn about what the area we live in was like thousands of years ago!
After our stinky tour, we grabbed lunch and headed out to the Observatory. It used to be known to us as The Planetarium, but it underwent a huge remodel in 2004 and is now extraordinary. We walked around outside to take in the views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills, toured the exhibits inside, saw a movie in the Planetarium (oh my land, it was fantastic!), found some cool stuff in the gift shop (love the Pluto shirt), ran into one of our favorite dancers from So You Think You Can Dance, and watched the amazing sunset outside. As we were leaving, we all got to look through a telescope on the lawn that showed us Saturn!! It was amazing to see this ball of white light surrounded by rings. It looked like a bright star before the docent pointed out that it was a planet. This was truly a wonderful day, and I'm so glad we finally got to explore some of our own back yard.
We were going to head to the beach today, but decided to postpone due to street sweeping in Newport and the 68 degree forecast. Michelle and I hit Old Navy, Pier 1 and Pinky's Cupcakes. We stopped by the Newport Beach LDS Temple on the way to Rain Forest Cafe. The grounds are so pretty. Rain Forest was fun as usual, and Heather spent some birthday money at the Lego Store. We'll be up at at it again tomorrow.
Cookies and Cream and Charlie Brown (peanut butter)
Gavin and Aunt Michelle arrived this afternoon. The kids got right down to business with a video game. After Taco Tuesday at Del Taco, they organized a Wipeout episode complete with tickets to the event. We watched their live episode which was complete with announcer interviews and plenty of wipeout-style obstacles. It was really great to see them have so much fun and be so creative together.
Of course I always love teaching, so it's not really a surprise that I would write about it. It's just that right now I am appreciating my job at church a little bit more than usual. That usually happens at some point during a calling. Over the years I've taught in the Young Women program, in Relief Society and in Primary, but I have never had a Sunday School or Senior Primary assignment in all of my adult years in any ward. The thing that I am appreciating that is different between this calling and the others I've had is that the curriculum for my Valiant 9 class comes straight from the scriptures, and my preparation each week requires me to read several chapters from the Book of Mormon. I am immersed in my scriptures more than ever before, and appreciating and being reminded of the specific purpose and lessons from individual experiences recorded in the Book of Mormon. I know a lot of people have had this experience (and my husband is probably laughing at me while reading this), but I wanted to write about it because I've been having some interesting issues with finding value in my assignment.
My class is darling--three or four students each week, all very quiet and thoughtful, and one of them is my daughter. It is great to have her in there and be able to cover Gospel subjects with her. But the kids are young, and I have struggled to find meaning in teaching the scriptures to this cute age when they don't always understand the text and appear to not be soaking anything in. A few weeks ago, I finally had a lightbulb moment (or a DUH! moment) where I felt impressed to look at the Purpose at the beginning of each lesson. The lesson tells me what to focus on. I don't know why I didn't look at this before. Knowing the objective really helped me to worry less that the kids wouldn't understand and focus more on the way that the stories in the scriptures could illustrate a Gospel principle that we need to learn. Once I found the center and focus, I was able to make my lessons more effective. Somehow I had lost sight of what I already knew -- good teachers know their objective from the outset are more effective and confident in their teaching when they have a clear objective. I really do feel silly for not realizing part of my problem. I kind of took for granted that I had been successful in all of my teaching assignments, and I over looked that I had some learning to do in this calling.
There is always a time during the week were I've run out of sufficient time, and I remember with a sigh that I need to prepare. But each and every time I am grateful for all that I learn while I'm preparing. I know I'm supposed to be in my scriptures every day. I am so far from perfect at this, and I am very thankful to be having this experience. I'm getting a taste of what it means to be studying my scriptures regularly (see, old dogs can learn new tricks), and although it's a little embarrassing to admit that I haven't been good at personal scripture study, I'm simply grateful today that our Father in Heaven provides ample time for us to learn and improve. I tend to be one that takes a little more time to find the lightbulb, but I eventually find it.
Several weeks ago while browsing Pinterest, Heather spotted a monster cake and declared that her next birthday would be a Monster Party! We borrowed some ideas from Pinterest and then added our own. And now we present, the Monster Party...
The cake and color theme
The activities and games
Menu: Hot dogs with chili, baked beans and cheese, chips, watermelon and soda
Painting our pet monsters
Aren't they cute?
Feed The Monster - Toss water balloons from tower into monster mouth (bucket)
Pass The Sleeping Monster...if you wake him, he'll explode!
Maim The Monster - throwing darts to pop balloons that have treats inside
Cake and cute guests
The glowing eyes looked really cool!
These girls are so fun. They hung out for the rest of the party and played a game. Because Heather is over at the new school this year, she was able to combine church and school friends who all knew each other. It was really fun to watch them have fun together.
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!