Sunday, August 30, 2009

Miracles never cease

So, our miracles have not ceased. Our water heater has been leaking pretty heavy and steadily for several weeks/months. I've been praying daily that it will last until we can afford to replace it. Friday was payday. On Saturday, Bro Ellertson was driving down 6th Street and saw one at a garage sale. They said it works great and were selling it for $20! I ran over and asked them to hold it for me while I ran to the bank for cash, and so it has been proven again - the Lord is mindful of our needs. Plus, it's even bigger than the last one we had. Woohoo!

He has definitely been mindful of me. The day before school began, I was all stressed. All of my work time had been taken up by stupid meetings and trying to schedule my students. I had no idea what to do with the students or even what their needs were. I had been reading the most recent conference issue of the Ensign, but for some reason it wasn't in the bathroom, and the only one there was from November 2008 (October Conference). The article that I opened up to read that morning was meant just for me at that moment.

You can imagine how moved I was when in the first sentence I read "...I wish to encourage (those) who at times feel overwhelmed with their responsibilities." And then"... Most of you have discovered that your ... duties will stretch you to the point that you wonder if you can stretch that far." "The more faithful service you give, the more the Lord asks of you... Your smile is a happy one because you know that He increases our power to carry the heavier load. The tough part of that reality, however, is that for Him to give you that increased power you must go in service and faith to your outer limits."

Yeah, I was completely reassured that this job is something I can do. That I'm serving some of his most courageous children, and that I can handle the increased pressure and responsibility - that my back will be strengthened to bear the burden as I serve him with all my heart, might, mind, and strength.

Here are a few more passages from President Eyring's talk, "O ye that Embark":

"It is like building muscle strength. You must break down your muscles to build them up. You push muscles to the point of exhaustion. Then they repair themselves, and they develop greater strength. Increased spiritual strength is a gift from God which He can give when we push in His service to our limits. Through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our natures can be changed. Then our power to carry burdens can be increased more than enough to compensate for the increased service we will be asked to give." When those feelings of inadequacy strike us, it is the time to remember the Savior. He assures us that we don’t do this work alone.
Also, for the past three weeks, I've had a toothache. Seriously, it has been miserable. For a couple of days, my cheek was actually swollen up like Alfafa's and I was down in bed the whole weekend before school started. I took some antibiotics and had it under control, but as soon as they ran out, it was killin' me again. I had it pulled on Friday and have wasted another weekend in recuperation. Thank goodness I was finally able to get it taken care of though...Walking around my classroom with an ice pack on my face was starting to be really silly.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

YW Spa Night

Tonight for mutual the Beehives (12 & 13 year old girls) planned a spa night. They chose the activity, planned it, and even brought the refreshments.

We did a chocolate face mask, oatmeal scrub, sugar scrub for hands, pedicures, and manicures.

I got the recipes for the chocolate mask and oatmeal scrub online, but didn't save the source. Sorry. However, here are the recipes:

Chocolate Face Mask - 1/3 c. cocoa powder, 1/4 c. honey, 2 T. heavy cream or sour cream, 3 tsp. ground oatmeal; mix well, apply to face, leave on for 20 minutes, rinse with warm water.

Oatmeal Scrub: 1 T. baking soda, 2 tsp ground oatmeal; mix with small amount water, scrub face gently, rinse with warm water.

We made our sugar scrub at Girl's Camp. Essentially it contains white sugar and mineral or vegetable oil (about 1/2 cup sugar, 2 T. oil, and some essential oil scents - a couple of drops). Here's a recipe.

And Thank goodness the girls had planned the refreshments well! We had Brownies, Ice Cream, and homemade Hot Fudge Sauce! (Otherwise I'm afraid that we'd have resorted to eating the rest of the face mask by the spoonful.

Tips for hosting your own spa night: bring lots of washcloths and towels. Bring headbands to keep their hair back. If you're doing it in the kitchen, bring mirrors so the girls don't have to walk through the building with their chocolate faces to use the mirrors in the bathroom. Lots of chocolate and good tunes are a must! Enjoy! Thanks for the great night girls!

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hello. I'm too tired to blog.

But I wanted to check in anyway. We survived the first week of school. I think I'm really going to like my class. They cross the full spectrum of autism - from non-verbal, still havin' an accident once in a while to the kid who is taking Algebra II with general ed students, and can calculate how many minutes left in the class period practically instantaneously.

I'm still trying to figure out how to teach functional academics in high school. Everything we work on is supposed to have a real-world application to prepare the students for adulthood. Math is all about money, paychecks, time cards, banking, etc. Reading is about ads, newspapers, menus, etc. Writing is about shopping lists, letters, job applications, personal information sheets, etc.

Here's a cute story. One of my guys has the total stereotypic version of autism - high academics, low social skills, perseveration, stimming, etc. He can quote complete scenes from his favorite movie, and loves to sing the theme at the top of his lungs (sometimes at inopportune times and places). His favorite computer program has an application that he loves - he can sing into the microphone and hear himself through the headphones, which of course are designed to keep the rest of the class from being distracted when it's his turn on the computer. The other day two groups were working on Math, one student was writing a letter, and he was having his turn on the computer. The aide noticed that he was going to his favorite program...the one where he likes to yell. So I placed a piece of tape over the mike at the top of the screen, then added a sticky note over it that said "Quiet! It's time for Math." It must have worked, because he didn't even try to yell into the mike once during his turn. Bwahahahahaa!

Have a great week.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why didn't I think of this before!?!

Knowing that I'm going to be swamped when I go back to work full-time next week, we had a family meeting. We talked over what it would take to make it work. Since we were pretty successful with 10 kids here, we discussed what we had done differently that helped make that week easier.

Our list:
  • woke up early and got dressed right away
  • ate breakfast together
  • everyone cleared and washed their own dishes (from 2 years and up)
  • wiped the table right away
  • kept the toys to a minimum and put them away constantly
  • swept and vacuumed daily
  • did dishes after every meal (every meal made a full dishwasher load)
  • no t.v. or movies after dinner
  • played for an hour after dinner then had scriptures and prayer
  • read little ones to sleep
So we decided to continue those habits and split the daily jobs up fairly. Since none of us like doing the same job every day for a week, we have a revolving chore chart. Each of the older kids has two or three jobs daily (empty dishwasher, sweep, vac, trash, water, fill dw, cook, laundry, etc.) Every day they change though, so they don't have to get into a rut.

The best part though, is the cooking. I really assigned it, so they could help with the cooking. However, they all want to cook all three meals themselves. The first day Arthur cooked all three meals. Calvin was planning his meals ahead, and woke up at 7 am to make everyone waffles! He had a stir fry and rice all planned out for dinner tonight. They are lovin' this!

I have always shied away from chore charts, since I am not one to enforce that kind of structure (making me appear lax when it all goes out the window after a week or two). So I am thrilled that they have taken on these responsibilities so willingly. Man, I have great kids!

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