Sunday, March 19, 2017


Michelle had a violin concert two weeks ago and federation on Saturday.  Her concerts/Federation always make her nervous.  She finds it challenging to memorize the songs (memorization has never been easy for her) and having to perform alone is nerve wracking, especially for Federation when she is being judged and receiving feedback.  She works really hard and even though I know she sometimes gets frustrated when she feels like she didn't do her best, I am proud of her for continuing to work hard and to try.

I've been thinking a lot lately about effort and goals and determination.  It seems like many things came easily for me as a child.  I learned to read early and I did well in school and I really loved to learn.  I still do.  (Today in church they started calling me Sister Dictionary in young women's because my friend Sara, our YW president, said I usually know the meaning of almost any word.)  The ability to read well, remember things, and learn easily has blessed my life in countless ways.  But because so many things came so easily to me, I think I often gave up too easily on things that didn't come so easily.  For example, in college I really wanted to learn to play guitar. My wonderful parents bought me a guitar for Christmas and I took a class.  I did practice and try but it was hard and it hurt...and I didn't get very good during that semester long class and while I still have the guitar, it doesn't get played.  Some day I really should pick it up and try harder to learn.  I can think of several other examples of times I either tried something and gave up too easily...or times when I was afraid to even try because I didn't want to fail.   I've also been thinking about the times when I felt the greatest accomplishment. One of these was when I finished a half marathon.  That was a huge accomplishment for me...I really don't enjoy running and I'm not very good at it.  I have to work really hard to exercise because I really don't enjoy exercising...I like the way I feel when I am completely done and I like the results when I exercise regularly...but I don't enjoy the process and so it is easy to put it off or neglect doing it.  I'm not sure if this is totally true, but in a sense I feel like it is a bigger deal when I run a half marathon because it is truly hard for me than it is for someone who loves running.  Just like it would be a big deal for someone to read 25 books this year if they only read 5 last year...but it will be no big deal if I finish 300 books this year (including picture books and chapter books and novels) because I typically read about that many books a year and I LOVE reading.  Sorry, I know I am rambling.

Back to violin. I  think Michelle has natural talent, but I also watch and know that she has to work hard at it and it doesn't always come easily to her.  I see her struggles and I think that in the long run she will be better and stronger for experiencing them.  It makes me both hurt to watch her struggle and sometimes doubt herself and also feel pleased that despite the struggles, she continues on.

I hope that she will continue to put in an effort on her school work and violin and so many other things.  I hope she remembers that "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  She has great potential and I hope she sees and remembers that each day!

Alfredo is the best cook!

While I do the vast majority of the cooking in our home, everyone loves when Alfredo cooks.  He typically cooks breakfast on Saturday mornings (and sometimes Sunday mornings) and he often cooks when we have company over.  A couple of weeks ago, we had his cousins over for dinner.  He made empanadas and I made flan (although he flipped it over and adorned it with the raspberries).  Dinner was absolutely always!

 The girls enjoyed talking to their cousins and holding the babies.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Trip to Las Vegas

Over President's Day weekend, we headed to Las Vegas to visit Alfredo's cousin Sandra and her family.  It rained most of the time we were there.  We spent a couple of hours at Circus Circus where the kids enjoyed playing arcade games and we watched some of the free circus shows.  

 It was our first trip in Alfredo's new car.  Such silly girls.  My favorite part of the trip was having time to talk, laugh and be silly together.

 The girls really enjoyed seeing their cousins.  And Sandra and Noel are always such gracious hosts.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Be My Valentine!

On Valentine's morning, we ate heart shaped pancakes.

 For the two weeks before Valentine's Day, we wrote love notes to each other on hearts and put them on each person's bedroom door.  We missed a couple of days but it was fun to read the things that we love and appreciate about each other.  The girls still have their hearts on their door.  I think it helped increase love and unity in our home.

 On Valentine's Day, the 6th grade at Hunter had their annual Valentine's Dance.  The teachers teach the students how to dance, how to act, and each student is required to dance with 3-4 people (they fill out a dance card in advance to reserve specific dances for each person).  Ella wasn't super excited about it but she ended up enjoying it.  A dear friend, Christie, was nice enough to send me a photo of Ella dancing with one of her partners.  Ella is growing up so quickly and is becoming quite a beauty.

Gabby wrote this sweet letter at school.

Monday, February 13, 2017

My 41st Birthday

I am 41.  I am richly blessed.  My birthday was wonderful.  My cute students (almost) all wore blue because that is my favorite color. Several of them brought me cards or gifts.  They sang happy birthday and a parent brought cookies and a Happy Birthday sign.  I was able to go to dinner with my family (Bombay House...Indian food...SOO yummy!!).  Alfredo bought me the most beautiful flowers and new shoes.  I had so many texts and Facebook messages wishing me a happy birthday.  Two different friends brought me treats from Kneaders.  So many people reached out to express their love.  I am truly blessed.  I truly have the greatest people in my life.  I was brought to tears multiple times throughout the day.  I am not sure why I am so very blessed and my life is so rich, but I am so thankful.

Gabby wrote this sweet note on the card with the flowers:  "You are the most beautiful woman in the world!  Happy Birthday!"

Learning about our Rights

It is the 225th Anniversary of the Bill of Rights.  One of the teachers at my school applied for and received one of 200 displays about the Bill of Rights for our school.  It's pretty neat...there are replicas of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, a timeline of events and information about the rights we have as citizens of this great country.

As part of the celebration, we invited Reverend France Davis to our school to talk about the Civil Rights movement and his experience marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Reverend Davis was born about 100 miles away from Dr. King.  He explained that they were called colored back then...anyone who wasn't white.  He went to a school where everyone was colored...all the teachers, bus drivers, students, everyone. He spoke about the "colored only" and "white only" signs that were all over his city and all over the South.  "Coloreds" had to ride in the front of the train, the back of the bus, the bottom of a boat, and the top of a movie was a big deal to know where you were supposed to sit and to follow those rules.  About 2/3 of the children in his city were colored, and about 2 million dollars was spent on the colored schools each year.  On the other hand, 10 million dollars was spent on the white schools.

He talked about Martin Luther King's intelligence.  He was asked to leave school when he was 5 because he was the highest reader.  He was very intelligent and had his PhD. by the time he was 25. Dr. King believed strongly in nonviolence.  Reverend Davis met him in 1963 in DC at the march.
He shared four lessons we can all learn from Dr. King:  1.  Prepare as if everything depends on you.  2.  Imagine...have a vision for what you want to achieve.  Dream.  3.  Communicate that vision with others.  Learn to communicate effectively with people.  4.  Everyone has value.

We learned and sang "We Shall Overcome" with Reverend Davis.  There were quite a few tears in adult's eyes as we sang.  It really was a pretty special event.  I'm so glad I live now and that we have made progress in how we treat those of different backgrounds...but there is still work to do.  There still exists too much prejudice and too much bigotry.

This past week, we were able to have our principal, Dr. Kirby, speak to our students (two classes at a time) about her experiences growing up during this time period.  She spoke about not being allowed to try clothes or shoes on at the store.  So they would make tracings of their feet to measure their shoes.   They would take their measurements and bring all that information with them to the store when they shopped for clothes.  They also learned to sew so they could make their own clothes and so they could adjust their clothes if they bought something that didn't quite fit right.  She talked about going to the grocery store and having to wait until all of the white customers had been waited on before they could check out.   She allowed the students to ask questions.  One of my students asked if children of color could go to the circus or amusement park.  She said they had special days when they were allowed to go, but they had to go on those designated days.  She also explained that people of many backgrounds were considered "colored"...hispanics, polynesians, asians...anyone whose skin was not white.

I think it has been really valuable for my students to learn about these events, to (hopefully) appreciate the rights they have and those who worked to ensure these rights for us all.  I know that it has been a moving experience to listen to Dr. Kirby and Reverend Davis.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Miscellaneous Events in the past month (or so)

Since the girls went back to school on January 3 and I didn't go back to work until January 9, I decided to pick Ella up from school one day and take her out to lunch.  She chose to go to Pizza Rev.  Our food was delicious.  But Ella told me when I picked her up that she didn't feel good.  I was hoping she was just hungry, but after eating she said she felt worse.  And she kept putting her head down on the table at Pizza Rev.  So she ended up coming home and spending the rest of the day in bed.  Poor girl!

Gabby is really loving 3rd grade and doing very well.  She was so happy when she brought home her report card in January and she had all A's, all 5's in citizenship and a great note from her teacher.
Sorry...I don't know how to turn this photo.  The note from her teacher says.."Gabby always has many insightful ideas and is a role model for our class.  She takes pride in her school work and uses her time constructively.  Way to go!"

A couple of weeks ago, it was Hunter Pride Evening at Culvers.  A portion of each family's purchase would be donated to the school.  So we headed over to get ice cream.  We saw a couple of neighbors there which was fun.  Also, two of the teachers, Mrs. Leith and Mrs. Olsen, were there.  I could tell that they genuinely love my girls and all of their students.  I'm very grateful for the hard work and dedication of amazing teachers!

Just this past Tuesday, Gabby had parent watch day at dance.  I really enjoy going to watch her.  She is progressing.  She pays attention and really tries hard and stays focused.  She is getting more flexible and she really tries to do her best.  A couple of the girls in her class were really distracted by their parents being there (the teacher had to talk to them about not running over to talk to their parents in the middle of dance) but she was focused and really did her best.

For one of our January activities, I took the Beehives to the Church History Museum downtown.  We got to be History Mystery Detectives, a free program they have on weeknights for youth groups.  Then we got to watch the movie about the First Vision and wander around the museum for a little bit.  One of the missionaries talked to us quite a bit about his testimony of Joseph Smith.  It was a really wonderful night.  I sure love these sweet, sweet Beehives...and every one of the YW.  It's a privilege to serve them!

We've also had the privilege of having a couple of people over for dinner.  Last weekend, our dear friends Jeremy and Stacie came over for dinner to celebrate Stacie's birthday.  The week before that we invited the Julio family and the Fetzer family from our ward to come over for dinner.  I especially loved getting to hold the Fetzer's baby girl that evening.  And the following night we had Immanuel and his wife over for dinner.  I have kind of a goal of having one to two families from my ward over to dinner each month.  I'm sure there will be a few months we miss, but I feel like it is a small way I can strengthen relationships, build more unity in our ward, and help develop love and understanding among us (especially if we can find other topics to discuss than politics.  Alfredo is so frustrated by things with Trump that politics seem to come up daily).

Life is good.