Monday, August 30, 2010

Fear Not

Yesterday we got a call from Adam's mom telling us that just a short time earlier, a tragedy happened in the Visalia 2nd ward (the ward Adam grew up in).

I'm sure by now most of the people who read my blog will have heard about the event. Bishop Clay Sannar was working in the office after church on Sunday and a man came in and shot him to death. There were at least 22 witnesses. The man was later gunned down by police and killed.

Because this was so "close to home" in many senses of the word, I have been dwelling on this tragedy for the past 24 hours.

Bishop Sannar left behind a wife and six kids. The Visalia stake is shaken up. Knowledge of the nature of God and the plan of happiness will help carry them (and all of us) through this tough time. Adam served with Bishop Sannar in the Elders quorum when he got home from his mission and he said that he was a wonderful man. Please keep them in your prayers at this time.

Today I have played the words to the song "Let Us All Press On" many times in my head. I love the chorus and I think it has a beautiful message:

Fear not, though the enemy deride,
Courage, for the Lord is on our side;
We will heed not what the wicked may say,
But the Lord alone we will obey

My feelings were best expressed by my friend Tera who said "I am so grateful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am so grateful for the Plan of Salvation. Having this knowledge of HIS plan helps me to get through the tragic things happening all around."

The "Sweetest" Thing

Since teaching children is the sweetest thing someone could experience I got Adam a little first day of school gift to remind him and I left this little note to explain each candy. Candy bar cards are awesome but this will sit nicer on his desk...and who can't appreciate two gallons of candy?

Happy First Day of School! I wanted to give you a little something to help kick this year off to a good start. At first glance, it may seem only like a couple candy jars but each represents something special. A little reminder to treat the kids with kindness

Jar #1:

To remind you of the variety of children you are sure to encounter this year. Each candy represents a group of students.


A little socially awkward, perhaps a little difficult to reach. Take care of these kids and remember that they are in extra need of compassion.


These are the kids, girls especially that will wrap you around their fingers. You will love them instantly. They will help you get through the difficult days because you are always able to count on them to be extra sweet.


Yep, you’ll have these ones too. These are the ones who will halt productivity with their chatterbox mouths. Watch out for them, but don’t be too harsh…you married a gobstopper. Ask any of my teachers.


The jokesters, and class clowns. Sure, they may be annoying at times, but they are just trying to get a little attention. It may be negative attention, but they are harmless. Let them have their fun, but also let them know who’s boss.


Your star students! These are the ones who shine a little brighter than the rest. You can always count on them to ask the difficult questions, and be ready with lots of answers. With so much attention focused on struggling students, don’t forget about these shining stars! Help by challenging them to reach their full potential.

Air Heads:

Of course you can’t forget these ones. These are the ones that are so mesmerized by the LaffyTaffys and Gobstoppers that they forget to pay attention and might need extra reminders. Again, have patience with them. Use differentiated learning to keep them on task. Repeat instructions on an individual basis when you can.

Of course there are also students who are not represented in this candy mix. They are the ones with broken hearts and broken homes. They may be bullies, they may be bullied. They are the ones you need to love the most. It will be hard, but pray for the strength to love them just the same.

As you can tell, this jar holds quite a variety of students. Wouldn’t it be boring if there was only one kind? You may be tempted to pick out your favorites (like me with the peanut butter M&M’s among the Hot Tamales at your mom’s house) but enjoy each one for who they are. Like children, some candy may be too hard, others too soft but enjoy them for their respective qualities.

Jar #2:

To remind you that teaching is sweet


Everything in teaching is theory. Because of this (and the fact that you are only human), you are bound to make mistakes. Learn from them and move on. The lessons you learn from making these mistakes are sweet reminders that we can try again.


When you do stumble and make mistakes, learn to laugh at them. Don’t take yourself too seriously. The kids appreciate someone who is honest and open with a sense of humor. I love the sound of your laugh so laugh loud and often.


For those golden teaching moments (check out the wrapper). Sometimes the best learning happens be’twix’t the lines. Take every opportunity to increase comprehension and understanding. The sweetest moments in teaching happen when you see the light go on in your student’s eyes. The twix are for big golden moment. For small moments, refer to the Rolos and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.


Teaching is hard. It is emotionally and physically exhausting. When you feel at your lowest, refer to the kisses. They are from Hannah and I. These kisses are for all your hard work and dedication to your profession and your family. We love you more than we can say and we appreciate all you do for us. I love you so much!

Good luck and have fun!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wits End.

That's about where I am at 8:11 p.m. on this fine Monday night.

It all started about five days ago when Hannah decided that her 8:00 bedtime was not going to work out for her that particular night, even though she goes to bed at 8:00 every night. Adam and I were hanging out together downstairs while Hannah wailed upstairs. She doesn't cry herself to sleep (believe me...she can go until 2 in the morning and Mommy and Daddy can't hold out anymore so they give in) but we figured she would wear herself out and then we could comfort her and she would fall asleep. At around 8:40 I went upstairs to go snuggle her and calm her down. As I got to the top of the stairs I heard a soft thud. When I went to her room I found her standing by her crib, very upset. She'd fallen out somehow.

Adam lowered the crib.

Ever since then she has repeated her resistance to bed. It isn't fun but we deal with it.

Last night we waited 15 minutes until we went to go soothe her. Adam opened the door and ran Hannah over in the process. Apparently she had used her bumper to climb out of the bed. Her partner in climb.

We removed the bumper.

Tonight I found her trying to escape while she bawled her eyes out. She had all her stuffed animals piled in a corner and she was trying to use them to climb out. So I removed them, cuddled with her for a while, and laid her down.

A few minutes later I heard the strangest cry coming from Hannah's room. I rushed in to find her DANGLING ON THE OUTSIDE OF HER CRIB.


I didn't even rescue her in time. I ran over but she was not strong enough to hang on and she let go.

It has now been an hour and a half since bedtime started. I'm all alone at home right now so I don't know what to do. Hannah is still screaming in the spare bedroom. I set her in a port-a-crib and hoped she wouldn't be able to climb her way out of that (p.s. she did...she's knocking on the door right now...I'm still hoping she will wear herself out somehow).

So that is my story. Pathetic I know. I just don't know what to do with my precocious one year old.


Book Review: If I Stay

I read this book in a matter of hours. Another YA book that forces you to think about life in a different way. I found myself asking what I would chose. If I would stay in a broken body, as an orphan having lost everything important to me. It blew me away.

From Goodreads:

Mia is a young woman who has dreams of becoming a great musician. Life is wonderful---she has cool parents, an adorable little brother, a great BFF and the most loving boyfriend a girl could ever ask for. Adam sings in a band that is becoming very popular, the girls are always flocking around him, but he has eyes only for Mia. Life can't get any better than that, can it? Yes, it can. Mia is on her way to Julliard and if she gets accepted, she is going to have to make some really tough choices about her future with Adam.

Suddenly everything changes. Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

Book Review: Th1rteen R3asons Why

From Goodreads:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

I really REALLY enjoyed this book. It is a YA novel by Jay Asher. Brilliantly written, incredibly sad. Clay listens in agony for Hannah to explain why he is one of the reasons that she decided to end her life.

It really opened my eyes to teen suicide. I had a classmate kill himself when I was a Jr. and it really confused and upset me, even though I didn't know who he was. I even went to the funeral to try and understand. I had an acquaintance witness the violent suicide of her boyfriend. Also Jr. year (which is when this story takes place) who said something to the effect of "This is for you" or "This is because of you."' As she told me this story all I could think of was the one time she and her boyfriend had come over to my house and hung out for a little bit.

As Hannah relives her life and all the reasons why she chose to end it, I found myself sucked in. I know that there is nothing too big to handle, but I also understand that sometimes in the midst of turbulence it can feel like it is hard to get out.

If I was a high school English teacher I would make this required reading for my class. I think it was profound and I will think about it for days to come.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

{The most wonderful time of the year}

Oh Autumn! Almost upon us!

So what if there is hardly any seasonal changes in Las Vegas. I still love the fall months. It is my absolutely favorite time of the year. So many people love the spring because of new life and rebirth, but that is exactly why I love the fall ironically. The lazy days of summer pass and it is time for a fresh new school year. This is the first time in a looong time that I won't be packing my backpack and heading off to school with all the cool kids. I actually miss it tremendously. As desperate as I was to graduate, I still love the first weeks of school, freshly sharpened pencils, new notebooks, new school books purchased on Amazon with the best intentions of reading thoroughly...I love the fall.

I also love that I have so many wonderful things to look forward to before we say goodbye to are a few of them:

Happy Day! On August 24th the third installment of the Hunger Games series is out! We won't get it until it comes to our house on the 26th but that is less than a week away!

Adam goes back to school next week! He will be teaching 3rd grade at Tanaka Elementary and is excited for his new students.

These are three of my favorite T.V. shows (I left out How I Met your Mother, Community, and Desperate Housewives but I'll watch those too) I love when the new seasons start and this year they will all start the same week: September 20th

Adam and I will be celebrating our 29th (ahhhhh! One year from 30!) and 25th birthdays! On October 17th and October 10th (10/10/10 baby!)

There are other things to look forward to, including the holidays, camping, more books (Paranormalcy!) and fun with family and friends!

Here we go!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beach Trip 2010

After Adam got out of school for the summer we packed up and headed on a mini road trip through California! We started off with a day long visit to Visalia to see Nana Turney and some other family. Then we went to Pismo Beach. While we were in Pismo we visited Morro bay and ate at the World Famous Splash Cafe and had their award winning clam chowder. It was very yummmm! We finished our trip in San Diego. Some of the highlights were the Olympic Training Center, Balboa Park, Sea Port Village, and our personal favorite--the Wild Animal Park!

It was such a blast! We are lucky to live so so close to a beach...and even more lucky that Hannah is such a fantastic traveler!

First things first! Swimming in Nana's pool!

Because some days you just got to face your Nana's dog completely naked

Mommy, what is this feeling on my skin? There is no sunshine! It is only 72 Degrees?!

Mommy and Hannah at Morro Bay

Hannah and Daddy. Hannah is not happy that Daddy is making her stay in the stroller.

Hannah did NOT like the sea lions. She was afraid of their bark.

Trying to stay warm in frigged 72 degrees! it is about 40 degrees warmer at home in Las Vegas!

Hannah watching some Squirrels. They like Goldfish crackers just as much as she does!
Don't worry, she's had all her shots =)

Eating at the world famous Splash Cafe...Adam says now I can really be a part of his family!

Daddy and Hannah

Mommy I found the ocean and ate some sand! Tomorrow you'll see it in my diaper!

So in love!
Big Mama with some Big Mama's (what the Ensigns call Seaweed)

Adam and I fulfilling a dream to one day compete at the Olympic training center in San Diego...who do you think is better looking?

We went to the Olympic Training center and had a race to see who is the most high maintenance.

At Sea Port Village, so cute baby girl! So cute!
Heading to Ben and Carissa's Wedding Reception

Our old Lab partner Ben got married in the San Diego Temple. Ben was there for all of our "Firsts" including the first time Adam and I met so we thought we'd support him on his first day as a married man!
All three of us once upon a time, five minutes after I met my future husband and my Ben :)
Leaving Ben's reception...isn't it a gorgeous location for a wedding reception!
Hannah and Mommy watching something (probably a bird) at the Wild Animal Park in San Diego
Hannah cooling off at the Wild Animal Park
Hannah petting a dead deer. Not really, it is missing an eye because of an infection it had much earlier. Don't worry, it was in the petting zoo and we washed our hands!
Hannah tried to ride these deer away
Isn't it great when they can just feed themselves? And she looks so cute doing it!

Yes, we are mean parents. Hannah slept in our ginormous closet at the hotel. We got a huge room and Hannah wakes up at the first sign on light/noise made by parents so we shut her in the closet so she could have her own room. She liked it though.

I have only myself to blame...

One year old is a lot different than one month, or even ten months. Hannah has become so much fun, but she is quite the handful. I had all my cleaning supplies out in the bathroom (of course Hannah is drawn to them) and took the chemical cleaners and the vacuum upstairs to get ready to clean upstairs. Less than two minutes later I came back downstairs and this is what I found.

When I came back she tried to cover her tracks. CAUGHT!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I have a special relationship with money (as we all do) and I feel I'm perhaps a little weird. I blame my mother. When I was six years old I wanted to buy a hair clip. It was six dollars. I asked my mom to buy it for me. She said no. She said that I could have it for my birthday if I wanted--months away. That was like an eternity to a six year old. Then I came up with a beyond brilliant plan. My mom would buy the hair clip, and I would pay her back when I got the money. My mom broke the news to me (this was not an original thought) and began to teach her child about debt. I remember her pointing out her shoes. They were dirty and old and she said "What if I decided to have the shoes and pay for them later. They are dirty now, who wants to pay new money for old dirty shoes. What if they break? What if they were to get lost or stolen." She didn't know it then, but my mom had planted a seed of anxiousness in my mind. I didn't want to buy old shoes with new money. I didn't want debt.

Anyone who knows me, knows that spending money makes me physically cringe. I spent 5 dollars today and got a familiar pit in my stomach that made me question my "extravagant" Amazon purchase.

On the flip side, saving money, or finding a good deal gets me high. I spent 11 dollars today at the library at there annual Used Book Sale and bought 44 books. 44 books for 11 dollars--yes please!

I recently found a website that is crazy conservative like I am that I wanted to share: Frugal wife=Wealthy Life Read it, love it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chocolate Cake {Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate cake}

Award winning "Too Much Chocolate" Chocolate cake:

I came across this recipe for a dessert contest. It didn't win the contest but it was a fabulous cake that I got many compliments on. If you like chocolate you are going to want to try this one!


  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
  • 1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased 12 cup bundt pan.
  3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly in pan at least an hour and a half before inverting onto a plate If desired, dust the cake with powdered sugar. (I drizzled melted chocolate frosting on top rather than the powdered sugar giving me four different chocolate medium).

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

If you are like me, you've seen this book everywhere. At the park, at restaurants, in airports...I can't escape it. For Mother's Day this year, Adam gave me several books and this was one of them.

First of all, I have to say that I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone I didn't know very well. There is a lot of bad language that I don't use, and several very graphic scenes that include sex, rape, and murder.

This book is the first in a series of three. From Goodreads:
It's about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.

It's about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet's disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age--and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness to go with it--who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism--and an unexpected connection between themselves.

It was a great read, very entertaining-- loaded with WAY too many details (it could have been half the length at almost 700 pages) too gruesome and racy for my taste.

I am glad I read this book, I don't think I'll read the other novels in the series.

The most interesting thing to me was that the author--Stieg Larsson was a journalist who apparently wrote the novels as a bit of a hobby at night time when he came home from work. He died leaving behind three completed manuscripts (making no attempt to publish until shortly before his death) and all three were published posthumously. He didn't know he would be a #1 best seller. I wonder a lot about his brain because of the things he did to his female characters. Lots of violence--then again, the bad guys always got what was coming to them and the females prevailed--unless they were murdered.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

{4 years down and loving every minute}

Happy to be married to my best friend! He is the most wonderful man I know!

{4 favorite memories}

Welcoming our first child
Each of us graduating from college
Trip to New York City
Working together in both Clark County School District and We Serve

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ups and Downs:

I love the BBC. I've been watching a bunch of Period Dramas like North and South, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and today I finished Little Dorrit.

There was a great line I wanted to share that made perfect sense to me and applies to my life:

"The way I see it Mr. Clennam, there's ups and downs. Don't ask me why, why ups, why downs but there they is. But I've heard it given for a truth that as the world goes round, so it comes round again. You're down now, no doubt about it--but you'll be up again,
when your turn comes round"


Monday, August 2, 2010

LAST week!

Adam has two and a half days of school until summer begins for him. He and I are both looking forward to the end of the year and the start of summer.

Teachers often look forward to the end of a year and the beginning of a break, however, this year we are especially celebrating!

Adam has had a tough year, to understate it.

First of all, when Adam's school became a "track" school it was a huge blessing for us so that Adam could stay home with Hannah until October while I went to do student teaching. Adam volunteered to take the dreaded track 2. For those unfamiliar with Clark County's track system it is a 1-5 system with the lowest/behavior kids placed in the bottom two tracks and the highest kids with the most supportive family life are in tracks 4 and 5. People say this is a myth but I have witnessed it first hand with SEVERAL classes across a couple schools.

Nobody could believe Adam volunteered for track 2.

He has had a total of 11 "behavior" students as they are called. Most of his kids come from single parent homes (if they live with parents at all).

His students have:

Started a fire, right off of school property
One brought a gun to school on track break
Thrown desks/chairs/ and other forms of tantrums
Yelled/ threatened/ argued (on a daily basis)
Become physically violent

For the most part these were not isolated incidents.

For one student, Adam was asked to document his behavior so they could present it to the mother in hopes of an intervention. In a 7 hour period, he documented at least 90 items. They were not simple behavior problems:

Leaving the class to yell at first graders across the hall
Getting up in the middle of Adam's lesson and pretending to give birth on his desk
Pretending to ride a horse "galloping" around the classroom.

He had one student that more than once he has considered adopting and asked me to consider it as well. I don't know if I could handle a 4th almost 5th grader but if she needed it and it was the right thing to do we would pray about it and try.

This is what my poor husband has had to deal with on a daily basis. He has not had one break (he substitutes at his school during his track break) and is ready for the end of the year.

The hardest part for Adam is that he is a fantastic teacher. He has had other classes as a third and fourth grade teacher that he loves, that he misses when the end of the year comes, that I miss when the end of the year comes. He feels like such a bad teacher now, he feels like a failure. I hate seeing him feel that way because I know he is an excellent educator, he was just dealt some rough kids (who don't have the easiest lives themselves and neither Adam nor most of the students have support from the parents/guardians).

So here is to a week of new beginnings!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


In the next couple days this blog is going private-er :)

I was informed this morning by a family member that much of my family finds me pretty controversial and opinionated!

I was unaware of this fact, and quite embarrassed actually!

If you have found yourself "removed" from this blog or from facebook PLEASE don't feel offended! I did not do it out of anger or spite. I did it because I someone told me I've been offending people. I'm so sorry if you are among them! I don't want to cause contention or hurt in any way! I love you all and I'm so grateful to be in such an awesome family. I do it because I don't want to continue to offend anyone.