Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Weekend Pioneer Trek and Gardening

"Pioneer children sang as they walked, and walked, and walked, and walked." I grew up singing that song in Primary, especially in July since Pioneer Day falls on July 24th every year. This past weekend I gained a greater appreciation for the words of that song. Last weekend we had a Stake Young Women/Young Men Pioneer Trek. It was in the middle of no where. It was gorgeous though! We arrived with just enough time to set up our tents and get dinner before it got dark. Later that night we had a fireside with the Stake Presidency actually around a fire. It was really neat! The next morning we woke up early to get breakfast, pack up our "wagons", and start our trek. Apparently our wagons did not survive last year's trek so we ended up with plastic garden carts this year. Of course we didn't have to pack up everything that we brought. We were given a list of things we needed to pack. At the beginning of the trek we were divided into 8 companies. We were the Evans company. The Stake did a great job making a sort of Oregon Trail game of it. We started off with $170. We purchased what we wanted and saved the money we did not spend. We stopped at 16 sites (the Mississippi River, Winter Quarters, etc.). At each stop we opened an envelope. Each envelope contained a situation, such as a wheel breaking, finding money, etc. It was a lot of fun! We started the trek with high hopes and great attitudes. As the journey continued, these high hopes and attitudes began to decline. We ended up on the trek for 3 and a half hours. We were so excited when we saw our camp!! I cannot believe that the pioneers would walk 13 hours a day! We arrived just in time for a prepared lunch. That never happened to them. Our terrain was good ol' flat Florida. The pioneers encountered a lot of inclined land. At the fireside, the Stake President said he hoped each one of us got a blister and a few bug bites. When I got home, I had both. I cannot believe the conditions they endured for what they truly believed in. Part of the journey required us to cross water. Many of the kids jumped over the smallest part of the creek. However, we had to get our carts across too. That meant someone had to cross through the creek. I decided to do it. As you can see, the water was cloudy so I couldn't tell how deep it was. I didn't know how cold it was until I got in it. I know that it doesn't compare to the freezing water the pioneers dealt with. I thought of the story of the boys who carried everyone across the water and later died from doing so. It was so awesome to feel that close to the pioneers.
Today I finally planted my flower garden that I have been begging for. It was a lot of work. I'm impressed with myself because I did it all by myself, since Jordan was at work. I ended up with 2 large blisters, one on each hand. It gave me such a sense of accomplishment to step back and be able to say, "I did that." The Pioneer Trek was still on my mind while I was doing this. How hard would it be to plant my vegetable garden for my family, only to have to pick up and move (leaving it behind)?? Anyway, I am just grateful for all that the pioneers did so that I could have the church in my life.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Our Night Ride

Tonight after Jordan got home from school, we went to look for a roadside treasure that someone had found on Freecycle. It was a bunk bed. Someone must have already taken it because it wasn't there. I was kind of bummed because it would be so nice to have a bunk bed and move the bed in the spare bedroom into Carson's room. We would have a lot more room in that tiny room. Anyway, we decided to stop at our favorite 25 cents soda place to treat ourselves. (We rarely buy soda and keep it at the house. This way we have to really really want a soda because we have to leave the house to get one.) Jordan proceeded to get my newly favorite drink, Dr. Pepper (it was my favorite in high school, then I changed to Cherry Coke, and now I'm back to Dr. Pepper). Two sodas popped out instead of one. I know what you're thinking...that's not very honest, but can I tell you how much change those machines have taken from us in the almost year we've lived here (plus I have been going there since I was a little kid, so it has been taking my money for a while). Yeah yeah, justification. Anyway, if 7 nuggets from Chick-fil-a instead of 6 make my day of course 2 sodas for a quarter is going to make my day. Then we decided to ride around in hopes that Carson would fall asleep. We normally don't open our soda in the car when he's awake because he begs for some, and that is too hard to do in the car. So while we were driving, I decided to get my car rinsed. The paper mill has a little homemade looking thing that rinses off your car. I always get so excited because it is free. Jordan always laughs at me because of that. We were talking about whether or not we are allowed to even use it. I really don't know. A friend of mine in high school showed me it one day. I don't go to it often, but I told Jordan that if I live by the paper mill then I should be able to use it because it cleans off the pollutants. Sure, another justification. Really though if we weren't allowed to use it wouldn't it be in the gate or something? Oh well, one day someone may just have to come and bail me out of jail for trespassing so I could get a free car rinse.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Count Your Blessings

Today while I was rocking Carson to sleep for his nap, I flipped the television on and True Life was on. I proceeded to click information and find out what episode of True Life it was. For those who don't know of this show, it comes on MTV. It is an hour long show that takes you through the lives of a few people who all have the same issue. Some episodes in the past have been True Life I'm a Civilian Again, True Life I'm in Debt, True Life I'm a Competitive Eater, True Life I'm Backpacking through Europe, and the list goes on. Today's episode that I watched was True Life I have Autism. My brother had told me about this episode so I wanted to watch it. Plus as a teacher, I will have some autistic children in my classroom at one point or another. Needless to say, I was entrigued.
The episode followed three different boys who had various levels of autism. I took away something from each of them. One boy couldn't talk very well so his parents got him a lightwriter so that he could communicate better. (A lightwriter is a little portable machine that one types in the words he wishes to say and the lightwriter says them. It's really nifty!) This particular boy was turning 18 soon. He never had anyone his age over to his house or at his birthday parties. This year he was going to ask everyone to his birthday party with his lightwriter. All of the kids said yes and it turned out great. Before the party the boy said that having people his age at his birthday party would be the best day of his life. I started to get misty eyed. My friends always came over a lot. I always had tons of people at my birthday parties. It was amazing to me the one thing that would give him the best day of his life is something that "normal people" take for granted. We may complain about our friends or not being in the popular crowd, but we have friends who we know love us and come to our house and birthday parties. It's such a simple act to come to a birthday, but it meant so much to this kid. It just really made me stop and think.
Another boy on the show was spectacular with art. Anyone who knows me knows that I am horrible with art. I cannot be artistic to save my life. This boy had an art show in New York with all of his work. It was amazing! It made me stop and think again. Many times if we see someone different from us out at the mall or grocery store what do we think? We may stare. We may have pity on that person thinking that they cannot do anything in life. However, I'm sure that we don't stop and say you know they're disabled so I can obviously see what I can do that they can't, but I wonder what they can do that I can't. It just made me think.
The last boy on the show wanted to be a comedian. He did lots of stand up. He learned that he could do what a lot of other comics do...address their weaknesses in their acts. He was afraid to at first. He was scared that everyone would look at him differnt knowing he was autistic. He decided to try it and had a wonderful act! We all have trials in our lives that we must overcome. These boys were doing their best to overcome their autism. I just really enjoyed that episode.
Watching it made me feel so grateful for the little things in life. When Carson is destroying the house, instead of getting frustrated I should just be grateful to have him here and for him to be healthy. There are so many things to be thankful for.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Happiness vs. Joy

Tonight we had Family Home Evening at my grandmother's house. Once a month all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins get together and have FHE. There's always a quick lesson and dessert. It's great because many members of my family don't go to church often or even at all anymore. However, they all get together and participate in FHE. It's great! Tonight my grandmother had the lesson. It was on happiness and joy. She compared the two. (Our Mission President talked about this at Stake Conference last week so it was good reinforcement.) At any rate, my grandma started off by having us list three things that bring us happiness and three that bring us joy. Since I had just heard the talk from the Mission President, I knew how to place my answers. Three things that bring me happiness are: having a clean house!! shopping!! spending time with my family on the weekends (aren't they so cute)!! The three things that bring me joy are: the gospel of Jesus Christ!! knowing that my family and I can be together forever!! spending quality time with family/extended family!!
During FHE, my mom pointed out that happiness is more temporary. Jordan went on to say that you can go from happy to sad within minutes. However, joy lasts longer. The question came up of whether or not money can buy happiness. In my case, money could buy all three things under my happiness list. I could pay a maid to clean my house, and I would be happy. I could have money and go shopping. I could quit my job if we had the money and spend my weekends with Jordan and Carson. However in my joy list, money could not buy joy. Interesting isn't it?? I also made a connection too that I think is worth mentioning. When you have joy, you have happiness. However if you have happiness, you don't necessarily have joy. I just really liked sitting down and thinking about the two.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

School, School, School

It's midway through my last full semester before I student teach. I have been doing really good about pacing all of my assignments. Even though we have actual due dates, they are more like suggestions. Right now it's been hard to get into the schools because of the FCAT. Anyway, I'm caught up and a little ahead of the game. Today in my two major classes (Reading 2 and Math 2), the teacher reworked the schedule. Now we have two huge things due next Thursday. We have one week to get together a backboard and math activity to do at Lucille Moore. We're doing a math event for the entire school. That means we will have students from kindergarten to fifth grade that we have to adapt the activity to. So I have to do that and in reading we have another assignment moved up. It's called Novel in a Day. Each group has 2 chapters of a book that we have to act out (complete with costumes, props, etc.). It sounds like fun and I'm sure it will be, but it just requires a lot of work. Anyway, as frustrating as it is to fit in two more projects, I guess it is better to go ahead and get them out of the way. I'm that much closer to a diploma which leads to a real job with a weekend!!!! I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sears Portrait Studio

Ever since Carson was born, I've been obsessed with getting his pictures taken at Sears. I always had mine taken there since Olan Mills closed so that is where we have been taking Carson. We had his three month pictures taken. They were absolutely gorgeous. However, the lady was such a fraud. She charged us more than she told us in the beginning. She just kept pushing me to buy buy buy. So of course that's what we did. They were great pictures. When it came time to get Carson's 6 month pictures (can you tell he is the first child??), I went in with a smarter approach. This time it was a different lady. She did a phenomenal job with our family picture. The first one she took was the one we wanted. She also got some really great ones of just Carson. Our plan was just to get the $9.99 package especially after spending so much just three months ago. The girl could tell that we were having a hard time and told us just to get the package and buy a proof sheet with the other photos we liked. It was a lot cheaper to do it that way. Sadly, that photographer went off to college. So this time when we went for Carson's 18 month pictures, I was a little worried. I came prepared with my coupons. The pictures this time were not as great because Carson did not want to cooperate. He wanted to play with all of the toys they use for props. We did get a few cute ones. Then when we went to order, Sears does not have the $9.99 package anymore. You have to have a coupon for that. I didn't print off that coupon because I knew you didn't need it. The lady said they changed it and you have to have it. I was so irritated!! She also said that Sears does not call to tell you that your pictures are in anymore. Instead, you have to do that. It had been a few weeks so I decided to call today and see if they were ready. They were. When I went to pick them up, the lady said there were a few extra in the package. Now normally they show you the extras and ask if you want to buy them. This time she gave them to me. So instead of having 5 sheets, I had 9 sheets!!! It totally made my day! It's like when I go to Chick-fil-a and order a 6 piece nugget and get 7 nuggets. I don't know why, but it always makes my day! Anyway, the picture to the left is one from Sears. Carson was 18 months old.