Saturday, June 27, 2009

Washington DC! Highlights of my first week

Lots has been happening the past few weeks and no matter what anyone says, life is never dull! Mine has been very full with the school year coming to an end, finding out my school district is phasing out my position at Fox Hill and transferring me to Pine Glen (which I am very sad about), and packing up my apartment so I can sublease it while I move to DC for the summer!

It was in July of last year that I found out I might have the opportunity to move to DC and nanny for Juliette's family. Looking back, it's been quite a year for their family and now that I am actually here living their "new" life with them, it seems unreal to me as well! (brief history... both Juliette and David took pretty prestigious positions with Obama's new administration so they moved their family here in April. I couldn't leave Fox Hill with only two months left, so they found a nanny who only wanted to work through June... which was perfect timing for my arrival! And, here I am)

No matter how much you prepare and plan, a move is always stressful. I could NOT have done it without my mom's help. I left Boston my last day of school (my team of co-workers all treated me to lunch since the kids had a half day... and all the teachers had a surprise party for me before school to say "thanks" and "best wishes" as I had just found out a few days before that I was being forced to switch schools. I had very mixed emotions about this because I know deep inside I really am counting on finding a job in DC and moving permanently, but the fact that my "safety net" of Fox Hill was being yanked from me and completely unexpected... was a shock to my already stressed and sleep deprived system. However, I felt so LOVED and appreciated by my co-workers. I will treasure and cherish my memories of Fox Hill and the fantastic faculty and staff who taught me more than any graduate program could!

This move might have been even more difficult if things hadn't already been changing in Boston for me. 1. My church burned down and the building I have loved and worshipped in for the six years I've been there no longer exists; 2. my job was phased out at Fox Hill for budget reasons; 3. My grandfather's health is starting to fade rapidly and there is not much I can do to help him anymore besides pray for him; 4. many of my dear friends have moved within the past year from Boston or are going to move this summer; 5. Juliette's family had already moved... what else was I going to do with my summer without them!

So, here I am! My drive down here was miserable because of terrible rain storms. But, I spent two nights in PA and then off to DC! Juliette's family was away until Sunday night and I arrived on Saturday. It was hot and muggy when I got here which was a complete 180 from Boston where I had been wearing my fleece two days before!!

One week later I can say that this has been the change I NEEDED in my life! Such a blessing!! I love living with Juliette's family. I have a cute room in the furnished basement and my own bathroom. The house is gorgeous and in a perfect location in Georgetown.... right behind the university. I wish I had a video camera where I could show how green and gorgeous this city is! And, it is so family friendly. Crosswalks and sidewalks everywhere. Every little neighborhood has its own playground and tennis courts open to the public. Beautiful houses! Right by the water... maybe the Potomac river (I should know this). And, Juliette's house is RIGHT next door to a private pool and tennis club (which they are members of) so I have been every day this week! Oh - and did I mention that many museums, and things for the kids to do and see are free in DC! I learned that this week when I tried to pay for us to go to the National Zoo! LOVE DC!!! (Of course, this makes up for how expensive everything else is here... like food, etc. But, it is just simply beautiful. Every day this week was sunny and as I drive kids here and there
I just look around and think how lucky I am to be here!

However, a side note: without my GPS I would NOT be able to get anywhere or find anything! And, my only complaint is the city's traffic patterns. It is the most bizarre system I have ever seem, but on some of the roads a lane of traffic might go one direction sometimes and the other direction at other times. MORE than once this week I have almost had a head on collision. I just don't get it!!

Here are some pictures of highlights from the week!
Since I can't afford these tickets in Boston, I felt so fortunate to arrive in DC in time to go to a Red Sox game with Juliette's family! It was the perfect night. We were only about 16 rows from the ground and behind center field. The Nationals stadium has plenty of leg room in the seats and their food is INCREDIBLE! I had a nachos plate with all the fixings and corn bread (I don't like hot dogs at all). The weather was perfect and there were more Red Sox fans in the stadium than Nationals fans! LOVE THAT!

Proof that I was REALLY there :)
And close to the ground level!
David, Leo and Jeremiah (who hates having his picture taken!)

Cecilia was at a camp at the National Zoo all week so on Friday Jeremiah and I dropped her off and then walked around ourselves. (This is when I learned that many things in the area are FREE!) We saw the cutest animals. I wish I had better pictures, but this is one of the panda's. There was also a baby gorilla that was adorable! The National Zoo is a lot better than the zoo in Boston and many of the others I have been to. And, it's free!

It was really hot and humid on the day we went so Jeremiah and I took lots of breaks! On one of them we took pictures of each other. This was my picture of him. He's so cute!!
The zoo has a section that's called the "Kids Farm" where they have many farm animals that the kids can pet. Well, Jeremiah won't get near any animal but he loved the play area where there was a GIANT PIZZA! It was to teach the kids about healthy eating and growing vegetables. Here's Jeremiah on top of a large tomato!
Here's Jeremiah's picture of me as we sat and rested. Not bad for a three year old!
Later in the day, Leo had a birthday party at a bowling ally. It was quite dramatic as I arrived at the location only to see that it was located on a military base right over the river in VA. To enter you have to have your car searched and show them your license. Well, to my BIG surprise I could not find my license anywhere. So here I am, blocking traffic, with two kids in the back expecting to go to a birthday party... and we are not going to be allowed in! I was also panicked about where my license was!! I made some frantic phone calls to anyone who I thought might also be at the party so they could come and at least pick up Leo at the gate and take him in. Fortunately, the birthday boy's mom was still on her way because someone had stepped on the cake and she had to go get another one! She met us at the gate and took Leo. Jeremiah was not a happy camper, but we returned home. TO MY GREAT relief, I quickly found my license in a different purse that I had thought I double-checked to make sure I had emptied it... and we began our return trip to the base. Everyone recognized us at the gate and it was a little embarrassing, but we got in! So, Jeremiah and I went bowling while we waited for Leo. Jeremiah got 54 points!!

Look at this cool contraption they have for kids. It rolls off and therefore they don't need to throw it very hard. It also goes straight! Jeremiah thought this was the coolest thing ever... to knock down pins over and over again!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Plimoth Plantation

With two weeks left of school, I still had 2.5 personal days to take (meaning if you don't take them... you lose them!) So, I took them. My mom had come into town and I wanted to check one more thing off of my "To do before you leave Boston list" ... so off to Plimoth Plantation we went!

So, the plantation offers powerful personal encounters with history built on thorough research about the
Wampanoag People and the Colonial English community in the 1600s. They do their best to have live exhibits, programs, live interpreters, and historic settings to encourage a new level of understanding about present-day issues affecting communities around the world.

It was an INCREDIBLE experience. I felt like I was really among the two different groups of people as we toured the exhibits. The staff dressed like the
Wampanoag people and colonists would have dressed. Many of the Wampanoag staff were truly Native Americans! And, the colonists talked with the English accent as well as spoke and answered questions like you were talking to them in the 1600s. It was remarkable.

So, we went to the
Wampanoag village first. Here is one of their summer huts. Meant to be kept cool... (and notice I am wearing long sleeves and two layers. We went on June 15th but yet Boston is still not realizing it should be warmer!!)

Here is one of the staff members who was cooking frog legs and some kind of porridge that she was REALLY going to share with her family and eat later on in the day! (See the frog legs on the stick over the fire!!)

Well... if you didn't see them in the picture above... here's a better shot!
The inside of the winter hut. It was VERY smokey when we were in there and only one of the three fires were going at that time. The lady said that if the door was shut it wouldn't be as smokey and the smoke would just go out the holes in the ceiling.
Now on to the English village. I only got one picture of the village from the top of the Church at one of the ends of the village. Many of the homes were too dark to take pictures on the inside (as well as crowded with visitors). My mom LOVED talking to each of the colonists because she felt like she was living in the 1600s and found it so interesting!! It was hard to pull her away and move on to the next house :)
Overall, a great day and I highly recommend this as a great place to visit when you come to Boston... if you like to learn about history! You can also tour the Mayflower II and see Plymouth Rock... but we had to get back so we didn't get there...

LOVE IT that I crossed one more thing off my list!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fox Hill Elementary

Fox Hill Elementary

For the past two years I have had the privilege of working as an elementary school guidance counselor at Fox Hill Elementary School. It has been a wonderful experience... mostly because I have fabulous and fun co-workers and incredible students. I LOVE what I do and I LOVE going to work everyday.

At the end of the year there always seems to be lots of things going on. One of the highlights is School Spirit week (which is this week), our spring celebration, and Field Day (which was Friday). I loved field day as a child and my enthusiasm for it has not faded. This was my 2nd year in charge of the water relay for the first graders. Last year it was about 40 degrees warmer than it was on Friday, but that didn't stop us from enjoying it!

I took these two pictures of the kids in their lines
cheering on their teammates as they race to
fill their bucket with water. I was the judge
and we always seemed to have "ties". Wonder why??!!

The BIG event of the day is the staff v. 5th grade
volleyball game. I was on Team HILL
(the others were TEAM FOX) and, of course,
the teachers won!! The kids did not stop cheering
the ENTIRE time. It was so loud in there,
but it was a lot of fun!!!

The entire school comes to watch.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Why do I read these books?

This past year, my calling (or responsibility) in my church has been to work with all of the seminary classes for our local congregations. (A seminary class is a class of high school students who gather once a week (for home-study) or every morning to study the scriptures together with a teacher.) You do not have to be a member to attend and a few of our students this year weren't... which is great!

I attended early morning seminary when I was in high school. This is very common in areas outside of UT and places where there are not a significant amount of students attending one school. I continue to be in awe of these high school student who make it a priority to be at class by 6 AM so they can study together for 45 minutes before heading off to school. If that's not truly admirable, I don't know what is!

This past Sunday was seminary graduation for the seniors. My big planning event for my calling! I rec'd so much help and support from the youth, teachers and others that my job was really not that hard. However, the one thing I was not too excited about was having to speak! I don't mind speaking in front of others if I am only telling them instructions, etc... but this talk required picking a topic, studying it, writing it and presenting coherent thoughts... which is not a talent I am blessed with!

After a lot of thought, I decided to choose the topic of WHY? WHY do we study these books of scripture? WHY do you get up at 5 in the morning to read together as a group? WHY is it important to study and ponder the words and not just simply read for pleasure. WHY are the scriptures important in our EVERY day life? We have a lot of things that can fill our time quite nicely... WHY is scripture study ESSENTIAL. Well, I was REALLY impressed with what I found as I did my research. This information has always been before my eyes, but I never bulleted it out until I wrote the talk:

So, WHY:
The title page of the Book of Mormon states scriptures are:
1. Written by way of commandment, … by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation
2. Come forth by the gift and power of God,” and its interpretation is “by the gift of God”—by the Holy Ghost.
3. Shows “what great things the Lord [has] done” and has given to us “that [we] may know the covenants of the Lord,” that we might not be “cast off forever.”
4. To convince us “that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.”

Then, moving on, the Introduction states:
1. It contains “the fullness of the everlasting gospel
2. Outlines the plan of salvation
3. Tells [us] what [we] must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.
4. Promises each of us that “all who will come unto [the Savior] and obey the laws and ordinances of his gospel may be saved.

SWEET!!! That's what I want!

We read in 1 Ne that Lehi found what the scriptures teach every one of us as we read, study and ponder

1. Who we are
2. What we can become.
3. Prophecies for us and for our posterity.
4. The commandments, laws, ordinances, and covenants we must live by to obtain eternal life.
5. And how we must live in order to endure to the end and return to our Heavenly Father with honor!! :)

As we learned this year studying in the NT, the Savior taught from the scriptures. If HE was reading them why should I even question the importance of reading them! For example: after His Resurrection, on the road to Emmaus, His disciples “said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” To His disciples then and to us now, His words proclaim: “Search the scriptures; for ... they are they which testify of me”—a testimony borne by the Holy Ghost, for “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

There are two words I love associating with scripture study. The first is found in Doctrine and Covenants 19:23 Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me. ---
Peace--- what a wonderful word. It is not something that is felt often in a turbulent world, but we have been promised that we can feel peace in the rest of the Lord. I have felt a great deal of peace as I’ve read my scriptures.

The other word I like to associate with the scriptures is POWER. Sir Francis Bacon is the individual attributed to stating “Knowledge is Power”. But, I think it’s even more appropriate to say Scripture Knowledge is Power.

There is a cute song for kids called "Scripture Power". The refrain goes...
Scripture power keeps me safe from sin.
Scripture power is the power to win.
Scripture power! Ev’ryday I need
The power that I get each time I read.

This is WHY I read these books!!