Girls Camp was amazing this year. I feel so blessed to know some of the most amazing and beautiful girls.
It was a hard camp. It was really primative, and I had been battling kidney infections all summer that turned into something more serious. I didn't want to deal with it. I wanted to fulfill my responsibilities and get on with life.
I got a shot from my Dr. and promised I would have the CT scan when I got back. I am so glad I did.
We went high up into the mountains, and it was beautiful. Wildflowers were everywhere. It rained a lot, but that helped out with the flies, so it was a blessing in it's own way.
On the second day, we participated in the 3 mile hike. The Stake leaders made it into a treasure hunt where we recieved tokens at different stops that represented each of theYW values. It was very creative and meaningful. The only rules during the hike were to stay on the trails, ask for help if we needed it, and to help each other.
We walked along, enjoying the activity and each other. It was hot and some of the girls were struggling. There were 2 guys on 4-wheelers just off the trail who were offering the girls treats and drinks to get them to step off the path. I didn't really realize what was going on at the time. But I needed help for one of my girls who was not going to make it unless she got something from the tent that we had left at the campsite. I asked the guys if they were mobile, and if they could go to the campsite to get an item from the tent.
As one of the guys was packing up to help me, the other guy shoved a snickers in my hand. At that point I felt like it would be rude not to take it. So I did, and then they handed me a bag of dirt! I asked why I needed it. They told me I would find out soon.
It wasn't long before I figured out that the bag meant I had screwed up. I didn't mean to, and I was mad. I was just thinking of someone else and trying to help them, and now I had this bag of dirt I had to carry around. I felt like people were looking at me and judging me. Whether they actually were or not I don't know, but I felt it. And I didn't want to carry around that stupid bag of dirt.
I did for awhile. I even tried to hide it sometimes. I let people know I was just trying to help! I saw the camp director as we were walking down a trail. A few other girls had bags of dirt too. I told her I had a problem with my dirt.
She smiled and asked me why I was carrying it. I told her the guys told me I had to. She asked me if I wanted to carry it. I said no. Then she said, "well then give it to me."
Was it really that easy?
It was. I asked if the other girls in my group could give her theirs as well. They all gave it away. She took it from us and all we had to do was to give it up.
Never in my life has The Atonement made more sense.
The director then told me that my journey was over, and that I had to leave the girls and come with her. It took me a moment to realize what she meant. I said goodbye to the girls, and walked with the director to the top of the highest peak in the camp. It was beautiful there. I waited with the other leaders for our girls to finish the hike and join us.
I was so happy and excited when I saw my group of girls making their way up the mountain. And I noticed that no one was carrying bags of dirt, and in all honesty, I couldn't remember who had even had them to begin with. It didn't matter.
I gave letters that we, the YW's presidency and I had written to each girl. They found a quite spot among the wildflowers to read all about how wonderful and they are. Then we took a few minutes to look at the view below.
It would be difficult in this place to doubt the love that Jesus Christ has for us all. It would be impossible in this moment to not feel his love.
I was not able to finish the entire week. I ended up in the ER the following day to deal with my neglected health problems. But I am so grateful for my experience there. And I will never forget that moment when I realized I don't have to carry any dirt around with me. All I have to do is give it away.
So I have not done a public post for a long long time. I still blog, but started just keeping things more private, just for myself. I have changed a lot in the past 2 years. And I have realized one thing that I know for certain. Life is hard. But no matter how dark things get, something will come to help us get through it.
I read somewhere that people who can lose themselves in movies do not have a firm grip on reality and are somewhat neurotic. Knowing that everyone falls into some kind of spectrum in some kind of mental illness, I will accept that as I write how I feel about the movie War Horse.
I thought about this movie all throughout the last year. How during a time of War, when people were suffering all kinds of physical, emotional and spiritual anguish, this horse would come into their lives for a short time. He was always there. Even though he didn't lift the burden, he was a beautiful presence in their lives. I also noticed that the people who found this horse were all good, decent people just trying to do what was right. It was a beautiful message, and one I have thought about over and over again.
My life has not turned out the way I have planned. But in some ways, it is even better. I see improvements I need to make in many areas. I need to take better care of myself and my body. I need to be more patient with the sweet children that are in my care everyday.
I have taken to say that I love my job, but hate working. Only because so many things have gone to the wayside at home. I used to feel like I was a really great mom. Now, I am just a tired mom. Entering into the adolescent phase partnered with a full time consuming job has made me feel like I pretty much fall short every single day.
I have watched many other friends struggle with life changing events and feel like I need to be more helpful and supportive to them. But I feel like I am functioning at full capacity, and sometimes I just feel like I want to lock myself in my room and sleep for days at a time. During this past winter, there were several Saturdays I did do just that. Winter has been long, dark and cold. But on days like today, when the sun is out, I work in the yard with Jeff, and plan out an herb garden, my heart feels happy. Summer is coming. It is almost here!
I was just having a typical afternoon of art at school. Working on projects, singing along to beautiful kids music, soaking in all of the creativity and gentle compliments of encouragement my kids were giving to each other. Feeling overcome with peace, happiness and love for all of them. And knowing I was where I was suppose to be. Like the song says, "the world has shifted" Realizing that my world has shifted into something else I did not expect it to be. There has been a price that has been paid, and I am grateful that Jeff is available to pay it for me at home while I am here...But I felt like at that moment all of the words of the song came so powerfully...and I have been led here. It is just a small part to play in the grand scheme of things. No more important than so many other things that so many others are doing...but it is my part. And it is messy, difficult, wonderful, exhausting, exhilarating, challenging, and perfect. This is my life. "now that I see you".
Jeff came up last night from his office and told me he just sent me a link I had to watch. He knows me really well. He knows what my type of music is and knew I would absolutly love this song and the video. He was right. He knows me. It is a rare thing to really be understood. I am thankful everyday for my relationship with him. I feel lucky. And I love him too!
This week I finished my first report cards and had my first parent/teacher conferences. I have amazing parents. I was a little nervous at first. And I was nervous about my report cards too. But it's over now, and I feel pretty good about the entire thing.
After conferences, and working four 12 hour days back to back, I got my first "comp" day. Something I never got working at Private School. And as much as I loved working at my first school, which happened to be private, I love my new, public school about 100 times more. I have always absolutely adored my students, in every school I have ever taught in. That is not the issue. It is more that I have an amazingly supportive principal who seems me more as a professional, and not as someone who needs to be taught how to teach in a certain way.
I am grateful for my experience in private school. In many ways, that is how I learned to be a good teacher. But it was painful and exhausting at times. And kind of bad for my self-esteem.
I am learning now that there are several methods that can be used to teach the same thing. All can be equally effective. I strongly believe the main factor for any child to be able to learn is to just be in a compassionate classroom where students can safely take risks and not be afraid to learn. A happy place where learning happens because you are immersed in it. Where there is more to evaluating you students than just giving them tests. Where they can learn at their own pace, and be the very best that they can be.
I am still working out the kinks in how my classroom works, but it is moving along nicely, and I am loving every day.
Teaching is a hard job mostly because you are "on" every day. Every minute. Performing in front of the class. The hardest thing for me is just getting ready and starting. Then once I am in it, I'm there. And it's kind of like a high. The day zooms past, and the time is always short. I always run out of time. Which really is a good thing.
At first, I was trying to walk with one foot in both of my 2 worlds. Trying to hold on to everything I have built up over the past 6 years until everything changed. It was awful when Jeff lost his job. And the uncertainty of everything. Looking back, it is amazing how everything has slowly fallen into place. And I feel so thankful to Heavenly Father who knew where I should be headed all along. But I couldn't keep up with everything in both worlds. My home life has been stripped down to the bare minimum. My Martha Stewart experiments and neighborhood parties have been put on the back burner for now. My house will get clean maybe once every 2 weeks...but the upside is that no one is really here anymore to mess it up.
This long weekend, which included my "comp" day allowed me to re-connect with some of my old hobbies...spending a few hours on Facebook and Pinterest, watching the kids play in the snow and taking tons of pictures...staying in my sweats all day and not doing my hair and make-up was so nice. I looked awful when I went to Target, but just really didn't care. But most of my free-time was spent researching how to help some of my kids read better and understand money. Figuring out what kind of party I can have when we study fairy tales in February...thinking of what I am getting all of the sweet kids in my class for Christmas...finding music for our holiday program...and cutting out patterns for our next art project. I am now almost "in" with both feet!Oh yeah, it was Halloween too! It's been 15 years since I actually bought a Halloween costume for myself. Clint was The Riddler, and pretty much put that whole costume together himself. Pretty cool. Derek had an assortment of superhero costumes to wear and decided to go with Iron Man...he is my personal favorite, after all.
I want to try to do better and keep track of the funny things my kids say. Because they are both pretty funny! While driving up the canyon last Sunday on the way to Quarry Bend: Derek: Mom I lost my homework folder Me: No you didn't, its on the kitchen floor. Derek: No it's not. I lost it. Me: I know where it is, Derek. Derek: Well, if it's lost you will just have to buy me some new homework (Everyone in the car laughs)
Jeff: Mom loves Derek the most, and everyone else in the family is 40% Clint: (High-fives Jeff) "Hey 20%" Derek: (While playing Zombieville on Jeff's phone)Can I buy Doodle jump? Jeff: NO Derek: So you don't love your son? Jeff: (nothing) Derek: Okay, I'm telling mom
"Ellie and Zach are finished with 6 min. solution" The reason I gave my class when they asked why Zach and Ellie were paired up with a few of my readers who were struggling.
Some of my other high reading level girls had daggers coming out of their eyes for Ellie and Zach.
"But why are THEY done?!!" whined Josh, right before he started crying from frustration.
My class has been at each other for the past few days. Name calling, poking, pushing, tattling, mean comments, dirty looks. We have been together all day, 5 days a week, for the past 7 weeks. The honeymoon was definitely over. I realized I had made a mistake by putting Ellie and Zach above the rest of the class with that simple announcement, even though they have passed off all of the reading assignments in fast time. They had begun to read so fast that they were slurring words, and skipping expression and comprehension all together. I put them with slower readers to help them as well, I just said the wrong thing to the rest of the class.
I realized I had made a mistake. Now how to fix it. I told the class that even though Zach and Ellie were the fastest readers, it didn't mean they were the best readers. It's true. Trinity was the only one in the class who scored 100% for accuracy on the CBM test they had just taken last week, even though her time had been a little slower. Kemry has the best scores for math. Aryanna by far has the best penmanship. Wes is the friendliest...
Everyone had been upset by me putting Ellie and Zach in a position of superiority that I made evident to the entire class. Now I had to fix it.
Zach was willing to help. "Just because Zach is one of the fastest readers, doesn't mean he is the best" he was perceptive and realized others felt bad, and he was willing to try to make it right with me. "Yep," he agreed "Mrs. Bingham always tells me to slow down" he said with a smile.
"Thank you to Zach" I whispered to myself. But it wasn't enough. I looked around and realized that I needed to do more to correct my mistake. I took a deep breath and apologized for announcing the new jobs of Zach and Ellie. I pointed out to everyone that Zach and Ellie did not score the highest in the class on some of the tests. I said that all the students in my class were all wonderful and all good at different things. I looked around the room and prayed that I would be able to come up with at least one good thing for each of them. Some of them would be harder than others.
I started with Brynlee and" what a beautiful singing voice she has". "Trinity is the most meticulous and neatest student I have ever known. Tanner is FUNNY! Ella is about the kindest girl in the world. Ary is an amazing artist. Zach has a great memory. Ellie is an awesome reader. Brooklyn is a comedian, Kemry is a super gymnast, Tatyana is a mother to the entire class." Then I came to Hunter. He has a pretty rough home life. He goes to resource and works hard every day for very little result. He works hard in class, and still, lots of times doesn't understand. But he always tries his very best. It is an ongoing theme when he tells me he really can't do what I ask him to do and I tell him to try his very best, he does. So when I came to Hunter, I looked at him, and I could tell he was afraid that I wouldn't have anything to say.
I said: "Hunter TRIES harder and works harder than anyone in this class..."
He went down on his desk and started to cry.
The feeling of love that was suddenly in our class was so strong and overwhelming...I choked down my own tears, and continued with how Haley was the best dressed, and Payton was the bravest one. Kennedy spoke and expressed herself so well, Julie loved her family so much, Wes was so outgoing and friendly with everyone. Josh is hilarious. Eli is so respectful and kind. Austin is so thoughtful and sharing...
The bell rang and I sent everyone to lunch and came back to my room and cried. After a good 10 minuets I washed my face and went to the faculty room to go and get a diet coke so I could pull myself together. I ran into the DK teacher who works with special needs kindergarten kids. She could tell I had been crying, and I was embarrassed and just told her it wasn't a bad thing, but just a really good feeling and experience I just had. I tried to tell her a little about it before I started crying again. She just understood and said when we pray for our kids, and then somehow we get an answer to that prayer, it can really be a powerful thing. I told her to stop because she was making it worse. We both laughed a little and then I cried on my way back to class.
I was able to pull myself together before my kids came back. We had a good afternoon because the good feeling stayed for the rest of the day.
The last few min. of class, I was playing music while my kids were coloring in their planets for the last activity of our space unit. I was walking around, looking at the beautiful colors they were using, and the music was playing and everyone was enjoying each other. Now I have not had many days like this, and I know there will be many days that are hard and trying, but it was good today. And I looked outside of myself somehow, for just a moment, and realized for a split-second what kind of a place my classroom was and realized...it really is kind of a beautiful place. And I am really where I am suppose to be. And it is a good place to be.