Jenny's blog

Mid-week report

We went out of town over the weekend to visit some family in Connecticut. My cousins Andy and Ricky had a combined homecoming/farewell at their church on Sunday and so we drove up to see them and for the service. My grandma and Uncle Randy flew in from Utah to visit, too, so it was a really good visit. My grandma’s memory is deteriorating a little bit more and more. She’s still fun to talk to, though, and it was nice to see her. The cousins are always fun. It takes them a few hours to remember that they like us and to get over the fact that we don’t exclusively wear plain jane, tight t-shirts with no ornamentation and jeans. Seriously, whining about other’s clothing makes up half their conversation — at least for the girls. I actually called them out on it during our photo-taking session this visit. I’m just getting tired of that kind of attitude from them, and I don’t want my kids to think I think it’s okay to talk like that. The youngest has a bad attitude about “putting up with” grandma, too, and I very nearly bent her over my knee. I’m outspoken, but mercy me, I hope that every single tactless, insensitive, ugly thought doesn’t come spewing out of my mouth.

I suppose we see the flaws in others that we need to work on. Hopefully it helps refine us.

Anyway, great visit. We love them. My uncle has been out of work for well over a year now. We will keep them in our prayers. Jared had his annual Rummikub game (he won again), and we all played Settlers with the 6-player expansion. Jared won that, too — though it was just luck of the dice. Randy and I were playing a superior game. :) Andy came in a very, very close third. I love Catan.

Monday morning I went with Michelle to her Seminary class. It was a very small Seminary class with just three students. Only two of the students actually attend regularly (my cousin and another student). In fact we visitors, my four cousins — 2 in college, 1 leaving in two weeks for his mission, and 1 actual Seminary student — and I, increased their attendance by 250%! The teacher is only a few lessons ahead of me though she started a week before. She’s been teaching a long time, and she said this was her third time through Old Testament. There used to be a lot more kids attending that high school, which begins nearly 45 minutes later than the other schools, but many moved in a mass exodus after September 11. She said at one point she had 13 students. Now she has the 3 that meet in her home daily. Whenever one student will be absent, they are asked to call ahead so the other student can decide whether or not to attend. It’s a slightly difficult arrangement.

Anyway, on Fridays she makes a special breakfast — apple pecan pancakes — while they do scripture mastery. The teacher had been ill on Friday, so she combined the scripture mastery lesson with a lesson on the creation. She did Moses chapters 2-3. I did Moses 1-2 today. Having so few students limits the kinds of activities they can do. They do play a lot of scripture mastery games, but I got the impression that most lessons are mainly discussion. That’s good, but coming up with variety for so few students would be difficult. The teacher was tired you could tell, but she kept teaching because there wasn’t really anyone else who could do it. It was fun to see how another teacher does it.

We ended up staying in Connecticut longer than we planned, after helping out some with a network problem at the church and then going to a Brazillian place for lunch (Ricky is going to Salvador, Brasil for his mission). We didn’t get home until almost midnight, and I was BEAT. I got up at 5 to start getting ready for our Creation lesson, which I had planned outside. I almost changed it at the last minute because I was so TIRED, but I felt like I had to go ahead with the schedule since I had reminded everyone to bring hoodies on that date with a note on the easel.

As it turned out, all of the students forgot that the lesson was outside, and none of them were dressed appropriately. The substitute teacher had turned over the page getting ready for his lesson, and so the kids never saw the funny poem I had written to remind them to bring hoodies and flashlights. I should have just had them do scripture mastery at that point, but I pushed on. Adding to the chaos, we got a new student, bringing us up to 10, so the kids were excited to talk to their friend. We walked to a spot on the hill to watch the sun rise. I had noticed that some of the students weren’t doing the reading, and I made the mistake of asking the students who did that days’ reading. A majority had not. :( So I scolded them. Not the best way to begin a class.

In the future, if I have a problem I need to address with the students, I will hold it to the end so as not to disturb the lesson. I already knew his from teaching Relief Society, but I must have spaced it because I was so tired.

So anyway, I was cranky that I had to waste time going back over the material that they should have already read, plus I was tired, AND I didn’t get a shower. I had them read verse by verse the part about Moses and the key to casting out Satan: using the name of Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten. Then we spent a few minutes on the first 6 creative periods. We did spin off for a few minutes on a joke one girl made about men being made from dust and women being made from ivory, or bone. I don’t appreciate that kind of humor. So I talked for a minute about how if women have to tear men down to build themselves up, we gain nothing. Rather we weaken ourselves. Don’t know if I made the point or not. They boys weren’t actually very helpful either, funnily. :)

At any rate, the lesson ended and we went home. It wasn’t a total failure, but not my best lesson by any stretch. I talked too much. But there wasn’t really any way to recover after I had scolded the kids. I was so tired by that point I came in the house, took off my clothes, and got in bed before my babies were even on the bus. Then I slept until noon.

Today I was determined to keep the lesson more upbeat, and since it was a scripture mastery day anyway, we did. I did 10 minutes on Moses 1:39, what I call God’s Mission Statement. Then we started working on scripture mastery posters. Heh. Talk about dilly dallying. Most of them got most of the way done. There was plenty of visiting, and I’m fine with that. I pulled the new student aside and explained our class rules and how things work in our class while the others worked.

Now that we have tables, the kids are really missing the couches. Who knew that would be such a big motivator! Anyway, I told them that if we all learn all 25 scripture masteries, I will move the tables by the couches, and we can sit that way for the rest of the year. They are down with it.

I was talking with my son’s piano teacher, who is a good friend from Church. Her son is in Tennessee working with Teach for America trying to help out some inner city school children. He is so very discouraged and can’t get any support from families. Everything he tries seems to blow up in his face. I am so lucky with these kids. They are just the cream of the crop. I have it so good, even on a not-so-good day. Of course the kids get out of control and give some lip on occasion, but I just shut that down and let it be known that isn’t appropriate, and they rise to the challenge. But that’s as bad as it gets, at least so far. I have two who are a little bit more challenging, but they are still great kids and participating.

As for the student who wasn’t integrating, that problem seems to have been fixed. Some kids ride the bus to school, and the others ride together with my Senior. They call her tiny Versa the “party bus” and are having a great time crowding up together to go to school. I’m grateful that has worked itself out.

Posted by Jenny Smith

I'm Jenny Smith. I blog about life on the 300+ acres of rolling farmland in Northern Virginia where I live. I like tomatoes, all things Star Trek, watercolor, and reading. I spend most days in the garden fighting deer and groundhogs while trying to find my life's meaning. I'm trying to be like Jesus -- emphasis on the trying.