Thursday, May 14, 2015

CHS Class of 2015

When my daughter Marly (class of 2013) was a freshman, we told her it would be so great to be a part of the beginning of a new high school. She would be part of the group that created a culture, started traditions, and got the sports and clubs off to a good start.

I told her there would be sacrifices to be made to be a part of the first wave of students from the school. There certainly were frustrations and many tears but she loved her experience as a whole. She was and still is a proud Coyote alumni, but this isn't about her.

Drew and me at his 8th grade promotion May 2011
Those early classes paved the way for your class, the class of 2015, the group of kids who would be on our campus for five whole years because of the 8th grade academy. You have seen the very beginnings, the good as well as the bad and are now part of the greatest class in our school's history. That doesn't take anything away from the previous classes because that's the goal, right? To get better every year and take what the previous class did and build up on it, improve it and make it better. Stronger.

And build it you did. And I want you to know that I knew it from the beginning. When Drew was a freshman, I told him to get ready for big things from your class. It was obvious that you would make a difference.

You decided to bring sunshine through the rain clouds of doubt and uncertainty to a school that desperately needed you. You planted seeds of positivity and success in your sports teams and clubs. You promoted school spirit and goodness with your diligence to academics and activities both during school and otherwise. You took the prank it forward and built upon its goodness by supporting one of your own. You tweeted, Facebooked and Instagrammed your support to Mason as he has dealt with his illness. You volunteered, you served, you were excited.

Senior Pictures
And now you are reaping the harvest of all your hard work. You can look back at your senior year and see the fruits of your labors. You had lots of teams who made it to state playoffs as well as individual champions like Rico (2X wrestling champion), Bourgeous (wrestling), Dunker (Discus), Rosales (FBLA), and Aby as Player of the Year (Basketball division 3). Your basketball team was the state runner ups! Your music groups continued to excel and win awards and you cheered on our Unified basketball team exactly the way you should by filling the bleachers.

You have been blessed with excellent teachers and coaches. It doesn't matter if you like them or not, they were there to see you succeed. You can't imagine the extra hours they put in on your behalf without getting paid. They know this isn't about money or fame for them, this is about helping you put your best foot forward. Your success is their success. Acknowledge them for what they've done with a handwritten note, a handshake, or whatever you can to let them know you appreciate them.

Let's not forget your parents who supported you with rides, money for activities and all the times they sat in the hard bleachers or drove long distances to watch you. If you think they didn't support you, think again. Maybe they worked two jobs so they could have the money for you to participate knowing they wouldn't be able to attend anything. And if you still don't think they supported you, there were lots of parents cheering you on silently. You have been worried about, prayed for and loved on during your high school career. Thank your parents and your friend's parents too.
CHS Homecoming parade 2013?

But it really isn't the end, is it?  

Now you have to take everything that you learned and put it to work. Some of you will become teachers and administrators, business men and women, artists and authors, you might be professional athletes too. You will attend colleges or trade schools, join the military, serve missions, get married and have families and some of you will work at McDonalds. No matter where the road ahead takes you, be the best you can be.

Work hard. Set goals. Serve others. Be kind. Do good.

Remember all that you did individually and collectively as a class and go out in the world and conquer it. You are the future and I feel confident my future is in good hands. You will be the teachers of my grandchildren so set a good example. You will be the creative souls who will make our world beautiful, please work from your heart.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Last Day of National Poetry Month

Day 25 - Weather poem inspired by another poem (I chose Shel Silverstein's Sick.

"I cannot go and hang with you."
Said my sweet boy whose name is Drew.
"I have a cough, sore throat and a rash,
my head hurts, I just want to crash.
My tummy hurts, my toe might be broke,
the way I feel is not a joke.
See the thing right next to my eye?
I think I'm coming down with a stye.
My fingers are numb,
I must sit on my bum.
What's that you say?
Free golf today?
All of a sudden I'm feeling better.
It must because of the wonderful weather."

Day 26 - Monorhyme Poem

Club Wrestling for kids
These tiny little wrestlers are cute.
It's hard not to sit here and root.
I write my poems and try to stay mute.
Until one of them lets a big toot.
And the big guy that thinks he's a brute.
Goes after the kid in hot pursuit.
Until his pants fall, his poor sweat suit.
The entire display is such a hoot.

Day 27 - Rictameter

Work is struggle
What reward do you want?
Put in the work to match the desire.
Reap the satisfaction of a job well done.
Laziness is a detriment.
Don't get too distracted.
It is worth it.

Day 28 - Pensee Poetry (I have two)

Grown up yet not.
Driving everyone crazy.
Circle K makes everything fine.
They say this too shall pass.

Mature but young.
Preparing for the future
Waits by the mailbox for the call.
It's hard to say goodbye.

Day 29 - Pyramid Poem

Moist Cookies.
Moist Cookies Wait.
Moist Cookies Wait Patiently.
Moist Cookies Wait Patiently in the cupboard.

Day 30 - Credo Poem (This might have been my favorite one to try)

I believe in teenagers.
     The ones who are poor,
     The ones with no parental support.
     The ones who pretend like they don't care what I say.
     The rich, lonely, popular and the beautiful.

But I don't think they always get a fair shake.

I believe in positive encouragement.
I believe in second chances.
I believe in pats on the back, polar pop love, listening well and the good that can come from social media.

And I believe in their power to do something good in this world, make something of and for themselves while I sit back and remind them, "I always believed in you."

Sunday, April 19, 2015

National Poetry Month...AGAIN!!!

I love April. I love it for its weather, track season and end of school activities but most of all I love it for poetry month. I always look forward to my friend Stephanie as she challenges us with a new type of poetry every day. You can find her blog and links to her poetry challenges by clicking here. You won't be disappointed.

But, as this month always seems to do, I get busy and run out of time to write something every day on social media. I carry around my notebook and jot down my lines as they come to me. This month I traveled with my oldest daughter and had no access to the computer to share my poems so I'll share a bunch of them here for all five of you who read me. Explanations can be found back on Stephanie's blog on how to create your own poetry.

Day 12 - A poem about your favorite book (Mrs .Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freeman)

Katherine Mike, a woman of strength
Moved to a land unfamiliar.
Found purpose, overcame danger and enjoyed true love
In the wilderness of Canada
As a young woman
early in the 20th century.

I like to think I'm like her,
My wilderness unknown.
Intentionally parenting  in a dangerous world with my true love.
In the desert of Arizona
a young woman in an older body
early in the 21st century.

Day 14 All About Me poem (and one about Marly since we were driving together when I was working on this)

Dedicated, energetic, passionate, intuitive 
Sibling of Allison, Melissa, Donny, Candice and Brittany. 
Lover of Ben and Diet Pepsi 
Who fears losing control. 
Who needs Time to write 
Who gives as much as she can. 
Who would like to see the castles of Spain. 
Resident of San Tan Valley 

Devoted, go-getter, stubborn, independent 
Sibling of Vance, Drew, Skylar, Katy, Tawny, Anny and Derek 
Lover of cheerleading and coaching 
Who fears drowning. 
Who needs good music 
Who gives sound advice 
Who would like to see her dreams come true. 
Resident of Mesa 

Day 15 Grammar Poem (My FAVORITE so there are several)

The Yukon
Brown and Reliable
Transports us comfortably
Like a Kangaroo carries its babies
If only it got better gas mileage.

Wedding Ring
Brilliant and sentimental
Symbolizing reverently
As a quiet reminder of promises made
If only everyone treated it as such.

Running Shoes
Grey and yellow
Waiting patiently
like a snake waits for its meal
If only I wore them more often.

Confident and able
Shining quietly
Like a lioness leads a pride
If only she knew her potential.

Reverent and uplifting
enriching us spiritually
Like a horse being led to water
If only more would choose to drink.

Powerful and reverent.
Inviting the spirit vocally.
Like the crash of a giant wave
If only you knew how to swim.

Day 16 Spring Senses Poetry (not gonna lie, not my favorite)

Looks like a fresh cut field of grass
Sounds like the bang of a starting gun.
Feels like warm sun on the skin.
Smells like sweaty uniforms.
Tastes like a cool glass of water.

Day 17 - Book Spine poems (So Much Fun!!)

What Love is
Any Given Day.
A Walk in the Woods,
A Thorny Path,
Running Into the Wind.
Confessions of a Slacker Mom
On Wings of Faith.
Stolen Identity,
Always Looking Up,
No Apology.
Finding Paradise
Following Christ.
Wake up to a Happier Life.

Hop on Pop,
Are you my Mother?
A Time for Everything,
Falling Up,
Great Expectations,
Elephant Games,
A Flea in the Ear,
Bear Wants More.
The Greatest Adventures of All Time
Giggle, Giggle, Quack.
My Dad is Awesome,
My Mom is Excellent.
Believe it Or Not!

Day 18 - I remember or Memory poems

I remember...

The anticipation of that first kiss under the dim light of Smitty's parking lot after we got off of work when you pulled me toward you as you leaned against your old yellow Mazda car.

The love I knew I had as I sat parked in my red pickup truck in your parents driveway when you told me you loved me for the very first time.

The satisfaction of knowing I would be your wife for eternity as we knelt across the altar in that sacred building in St. George all dressed in white.

Day 19 Cinquain

Sacredly One
Working hard everyday
Making sure the other feels loved.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Do You Hate Your Child's Coach/Band Teacher/Scout Leader?

Dear Parent,

I know you don't want to hear this but it has to be said.

Stop Complaining.

Everybody is tired of hearing how you don't think your child's team is run the way you want it to or that your kid isn't first chair in the band but you think they ought to. Have you been to practice to see the daily effort your child gives? Have you volunteered to come offer some extra help to keep the group functioning so that the coach can spend the time coaching and not organizing fundraisers, organizing meals or scheduling the concession stand?

Having coached a variety of sports for the last few years, my husband and I are always surprised at the amount of complaining that goes on. You know that person in the stands talking to himself so loudly that everyone around can hear him, "This coach doesn't have any idea what he's doing...what is that coach thinking? Are we even watching the same game?" Many times this is the same person who drops off the kid at practice and shows up later to pick him up and often doesn't respond to texts or emails and probably doesn't help with fundraisers.

I've been criticized for the amount of time I spend volunteering because of how busy it makes me and my family and I'm not suggesting you have to be like me (because we might be just a little crazy) but let me tell you our family's philosophy on why we volunteer as much as we do. I can break it down into two sentences.

We promise to make our best efforts to improve a situation by volunteering to help rather than standing on the sideline complaining. If we aren't in a situation to offer help, we will do our best to not complain.

It's that simple. If you have something to complain about it, please approach the coach (but never before or during a practice or game/concert) and ask what you can do to help. I'm confident the coach will give you some suggestions on things you can do to improve your child's skills and confidence at home. Then you must do these things with your child! 

If you are unhappy with team management, the coach might ask you to speak with the team mom or another individual who can help direct your efforts in a positive way. Let your child see that you want to make a difference with the team by offering to donate the after game snack, carry the equipment or work in the concession stand. Come sit and watch practice and see what kind of effort your child is putting into practice. Positively encourage your child. Ask your child about their grades and hold them accountable when they don't maintain eligibility minimums.

And I beg of you...please don't talk bad about your coach (or anyone for that matter) because it is just disrespectful. Think about the time and effort that person is putting forth volunteering to coach your child whether you think they are doing a good job or not. At least they are trying. It is one thing to question your child, "why did the coach ask you to do that?" when you don't agree with a play or when your child complains about a drill he dislikes, "do you think there is a reason the coach is asking you to do that specific drill?" Start a conversation about teamwork, discipline, respect for leaders and leadership. Help your child be a problem solver for himself.

I'm all about encouraging our kids to speak their minds and to question what is asked of them (when appropriate) while at the same time being respectful and obedient and I'm well aware that my children aren't perfect. Our kids learn from watching us so pay attention and get involved. If you don't have time to help out, please keep your opinions to yourself. 

I Thank you on behalf of all teachers, coaches, music leaders, booster club or PTO presidents and volunteers everywhere.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Five Years Went Too Fast

This week I was released from a calling in my church I held for over 5 years. I served as a liason for LDS Family Services supporting the AddictionRecovery Program as well as serving as a birth parent volunteer working with unwed and pregnant mothers.

I remember I was eight months pregnant with my eighth child when I was called. I was sure it was a mistake and they called the wrong person. I felt so completely overwhelmed. It took several months before I felt comfortable with my calling and from then on, it only deepened my testimony of how  much the Lord loves each of his children individually and personally.

I'd like to share three things I learned that will hopefully help others understand the purpose of LDS Family Services and its programs.

1 - Our Father in Heaven loves us no matter what. The Lord in his wisdom has created programs and resources to promote the emotional, physical and spiritual aspect of each of our lives. The Addiction Recovery Program is one way he does that. Support group meetings are held weekly and it is a place where those who struggle can come together and gain strength from each other. They use a workbook based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and is basically a step by step approach to using the atonement. It is scripture based and allows places to reflect on what the individual has learned and how they felt during each step of the process.

While working with my young birth mother friends, I also realized how much love I felt for each of them as they made decisions that would have far reaching consequences not only for them but for their child. I can only imagine that the amount of love I felt for them was a fraction of what our Heavenly Father feels for each of us. As we cried, laughed and loved each other, my testimony was strengthened that not one of us is forgotten by our loving Father in Heaven.

2 - None of us are perfect. We need the atonement to become perfect. I attended several meetings both with the ARP and birth mother support group often bringing someone with me so they could feel the spirit of hope and peace that attended each meeting. I often remarked that these meetings were atonement meetings. I left feeling wrapped in the arms of my Savior's love as well as understanding that there are ways for all of us to overcome our weaknesses. We are given weaknesses to become stronger. I celebrate the obstacles I have overcome because it has led me to becoming the person I am today. 

When I go to the gym and do a difficult workout, generally the next day I am sore. But I keep plugging along and working hard. Soon I notice how strong I am becoming. It's like that with our struggles; sometimes they cause us pain but as we learn to overcome them we become strong spiritually.

3 - We need to judge less and love more. As I worked with members through my calling I realized that there are enough people who judge and make assumptions based on little or no actual knowledge of the situation. I also recognized that the individual is sometimes harder on themselves than anyone else could be. It is our sacred responsibility to love others regardless of their imperfections. In the New Testament Luke chapter six verse 37 Jesus says, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall beforgiven: and on into verse 41 he adds, "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" But my favorite scripture comes in chapter 8 of Luke when a woman is brought to Jesus after being caught committing adultery. The scribes and pharisees brought her to be stoned for her sin. Jesus answered in verse seven, "he who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

What if instead of judgements we just loved? What if instead of being critical of your neighbor you served them and got to know them? What if instead of gossiping about someone's struggles you pray for them and maybe put your arm around them in love? What if? Can you imagine the potential you could inspire in someone just by loving them?

That's what I learned and that's why I'm so sad that my "official" service in this capacity has ended. Fortunately, the "unofficial" opportunities to serve never end for any of us. I'm eternally grateful for the lessons I learned and pray that my life will continue in service, remembering how much our Savior loves us, that none of us are perfect and that I need to love more and serve often.

If I served with you in this capacity in the last five years, I dedicate this song to you. I love you all.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

S'mores My Way

I don't care for chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream or most chocolate all by itself. I like it sometimes but I have to be in the mood.

I don't like to be cold unless I'm camping, sitting on my chair cuddled up with a good book and blanket, or when it's drizzling and I'm bundled up going for a run but not cold enough to see my breath. I'm very picky about my cold.

Right out of the oven.
I'm also picky about my s'mores. I like them when my sister makes them into bars using chocolate chips, little marshmallows and graham cereal so all their goodness is contained.

I love roasted marshmallows all by themselves. I like them burnt, I like them golden brown and frankly I could eat a bag of uncooked marshmallows if it was placed in front of me. I also love graham crackers. So, you can see how I might have a problem with S'mores the way they are traditionally made. Plus, I hate it when I roast my marshmallow perfectly then mash it between the graham crackers only to crunch on the chocolate, have all the mallow goodness ooze out and my graham cracker crumble to pieces.

I ate this one while typing and hardly
any chocolate got on the keyboard.
What I'm about to share with you is no secret. I'm sure this wasn't invented by me, but I like to think I came up with it on my own stemming from roasting marshmallows in the oven as a kid thanks to my mom. Sorry if you invented this and I don't give you credit.

The best way to avoid the tragedy of the traditional s'more is to bake them in the oven. You won't get cold from being outside and they come out perfectly. To begin, turn the oven to 350 degrees. Place a square of graham cracker on a cookie sheet covered with foil (that way we can throw the foil away without getting the pan dirty. Did I mention I hate to wash dishes?) Place a small amount of chocolate on the cracker and top it off with a large marshmallow. You can play with the amount of chocolate you use based on your desire to be a little messy or super messy. I bought the giant bar (7oz). Last night I used one square and it was super messy and too chocolatey (is that a word?) for my taste. Today I made them with 1/2 a square and they came out perfect.

Place them in the oven (I used a small cookie sheet and could fit 8 s'mores at once which is good for large parties or dessert for families with 8 children like mine. Don't walk away unless you like the smell of burnt marshmallow. It only takes about 3-4 minutes for the marshmallows to start browning and the chocolate to melt. When they are browned to your desired perfection remove them from the oven. Squish the top graham cracker on top gently and watch the awesomeness happen. I let mine sit for a few minutes to cool and let the chocolate cool before I eat mine. Enjoy! I know we do.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veteran's Day: Meet Cliff

Last night I had the opportunity to travel 80 miles to meet an amazing person. I'm so glad I brought my husband with me to record some of our visit. The video is the short version he gave us right as we arrived. We stayed much longer and I certainly wish we would have kept the camera rolling but here are more of the details.

Cliff called 3TV on Saturday morning after seeing this clip while I was there with my cheer squad performing. He said he didn't have a computer but he wanted to donate and asked if I could possibly drive to Sun City West to pick it up. My first thought was "that is way too far" and then I thought if I contacted someone in Far West Pop Warner near his home, they could drive over to pick up the check and mail it to me. But, Cliff said he was going in for surgery on Monday and we needed to pick it up before then. Something about that phone call made me want to meet him. I'm so glad I did.

Cliff joined the Marine Corp. when he was 18 years old. He was drafted into the Vietnam war shortly after. He didn't give any details to how long he had been there before he was captured but told us he had been a POW for about 30 days. He was the only prisoner that particular group had at the time. Like all prisoners, he was constantly hungry for sufficient food and clean water and suffered from the mind games they played with him such as Russian Roulette. Lucky for Cliff, he won every time. After 30 days he knew he was on his way to the Hanoi Hilton, a famous POW camp. Resigned to the fact that he would most likely die as a prisoner, he figured making an escape wasn't such a bad idea.

So one day he escaped by running away and hiding in the bushes when patrols went past him until he saw a group of Americans. When the last man in the group marched past, he ran up to him from behind and put him in a choke hold covering his mouth with his other hand and whispering "I'm an American, please don't shoot me." He was afraid they wouldn't recognize him because he looked so mangy.

Upon his return home to the states, he suffered from un-diagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which caused him difficulty in many aspects of his life. He courageously fought through his struggles even starting his own construction business and eventually meeting and marrying his sweet wife Tora.
They had struggles in their marriage mostly in part, he believes from his struggles with the PTSD. At one point, Tora mentioned that they had a fight and she went to her room to pray and the name of Bishop Taylor came to her mind. I'm not sure if she called him or if he simply showed up, but she had never had her prayers answered so specifically before when he arrived shortly to meet with Cliff. She started taking the missionary lessons from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and was baptized shortly after.

I don't know how much later, but there was a specific incident (he didn't make it clear what that event was or who it involved) several years ago that left him feeling humiliated about his life, he decided that for the sake of his wife he would go out into the desert with his "favorite weapon" and end his life.

Out in the desert he put the gun to his head but when he pulled the trigger all he heard was a click. It was at that moment that he knew he had something to live for. He drove home and then to the VA and checked himself into the hospital. At the hospital they immediately put him into the psych ward, a place which reminded him of his time as a POW. Because of his PTSD and his feeling that he was mean to still be alive, he and his doctor decided the safest place for him to be was at home. Tora chimed in here and said, "he was joking around about staying at the hospital and I told the Dr. that as long as he remained able to crack jokes he was ok." Tora took him home.

Tora sat there as we visited and you could feel the love she had for her husband even through his struggles. It was obvious she loves him very much.

Cliff said that since that day several years ago and because he is on disability, he sits and watches the news to see if there is anyone's life he can touch. Every year for Christmas, he offers a substantial amount of money to someone in need. That's where the story of my sweet cheerleaders comes in. That's why he called the station and asked if someone would come by and pick up the check.

Our visit to Cliff that night Tora noted, was an obvious answer to her prayers as her husband prepared for surgery tomorrow for a hip replacement. He is extremely nervous about the outcome and I'm so appreciative that I listened to the spirit and followed the prompting I felt in my heart to visit him myself so that he would know there were many who would pray for him.

I mentioned to Cliff that I was forwarding his story to the news so that he could perhaps be a support and a light for others suffering from PTSD to show that there is hope. For Cliff, reaching out to serve others is one of those ways he copes. Cliff is anxious to hear about how the girls are doing and he requested that I wish them each good luck from him personally.

Cliff is more special than he realizes and because of our becoming friends, I hope I can continue to be more courageous and spread love by supporting those in need whatever way I can. Thank you Cliff for your service in the military and to our country. Good luck with your surgery today and Happy Veteran's Day tomorrow..