Sunday, October 11, 2015

A World Where There Are Octobers...

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” 
- L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

October began with tears and heaviness. I know....that's a bummer way to start an entry. But it is what it is. 

In the last two years, I've been to three funerals. All of them were for males 30 and younger. Yesterday I attended one for a seventeen year old boy in our ward (congregation). 

Tardis casket for our cousin Kreg
And yesterday morning, Chris and Christian attended the burial of his young 30 year old cousin out in Mesa (right). The only reason I didn't attend the burial was due to the time conflict with the other funeral; although Chris and Christian did make it back just in time, but it was close. 

However, an hour before our local funeral, Mikelle had to be there to practice for the musical number, so I wasn't going to be able to attend the burial out in Mesa and get Mikelle to the early practice in time. 

Brandon just a couple of weeks ago...

This local young man we knew who tragically lost his life was one of those amazing teenagers that aren't celebrated very much. Instead, we hear about how much of a pain teenagers can be. Teenagers in general are often looped together into unfortunate stereotypes of selfishness and inconsideration. And don't get me wrong - there is a reason the stereotype exists despite the wonderful teenagers out there.

Nevertheless, if there was a poster child of the one of the amazing teenagers, it would be Brandon

This photo (above) is from last month at a youth activity at Lake Pleasant. I'm also including pictures of Mikelle having fun at that activity, because joy is all that can be received from viewing these pictures. And joy is the only thing that should be received from looking upon them.
Mikelle on the left with her friend LeAnna
Mikelle with her friend Kylie
This one is priceless. Mikelle is in the middle.
Arriving at seminary Monday morning, the 5th of October, was met with the tragic announcement from our bishop about the loss of Brandon the night before. I was numb at first and then I quickly found myself feeling overwhelmingly angry - as I tend to become with such young and unexpected losses. I had to go to work anyway and talk to the principal since the news would also affect some students who knew him. One of the ladies in our ward who also works for the district came into the office with the same thing in mind. We saw each other and just embraced. What else can you do with such a blow? That was when the first of my tears showed up and I still had to go to my classroom and carry on as if everything was normal.

Mikelle seemed stoic at first, until two mornings later, she broke down. I was taking her to seminary and she said, "Remember last week that day you had to drop me off at seminary a half-hour early?" I nodded. Yeah, that was a stressful day. We only had one vehicle since the car was still in the shop for body work caused by that tire blow-out. We didn't plan on the car being in the shop for as long as it was. As a result, we had to juggle schedules and that meant dropping Mikelle off at seminary a half-hour early and she'd just have to sit outside and wait. 

Mikelle continued: "Well, Brandon got there about 15 minutes early. He could have just stayed in his car, but instead....he sat with me."

That simple kind gesture of sitting with Mikelle was a symbol of the kind of person Brandon was. 

Therefore, to put it bluntly, it's been a sucky week. Fall break is upon us now, and that's wonderful. I do admit breaking down at work on Friday after holding it together due to these recent tragedies. Between the build-up of stress to wrap up grades for the first quarter, attempts to keep students on task, put up and deal with students whose brains were already on Fall Break (some of them have been on Fall Break since Summer Vacation), I found myself behaving more human instead of professional. 

While I've been beating myself up, I've also been assured that my feeling of inadequacy is not as bad as I've been making it out to be. Still, I have a job to do, and there were unfortunate moments on Friday that I fell short in doing that job effectively.

At least these pictures show that evidence that something is progressing in the art room. Here we are moving to the more abstract style as we tackle the Desert Landscape project with warm colors. If this project looks familiar, it should. I've been teaching this project since 2008 and loving it each time. 
Warm Color Desert Landscape in Progress - before Ink Pen stage... This 7th grader, Chip, is such a goofball!
Warm Color Desert Landscape in Progress - Black Ink Pen Stage
Warm Color Desert Landscape in Progress - before Ink Pen stage...
Sophia posing nicely with her Warm Color Desert Landscape in Progress - before Ink Pen stage...
Before the Abstract Desert Landscape, we explored the Non-Objective through our Watercolor Discovery project:
Watercolor Discovery Project
Various Watercolor Discoveries on Display...
Beautiful Watercolor Discovery.... though I do wish this student did more with the ink pen stage...
I'm well aware that I'm being hard on myself as a teacher. I need to see the good and success for what it is, and not magnify my shortfalls and frustrations as much as I have. I am just very competitive. No, I'm not competitive with other teachers. I'm competitive with myself. I want to accomplish more than I have and become a better teacher than I am. 

At least I could veg a little with this pumpkin for a client. She ordered it as a gift for her niece Molly.  These are different views from the same pumpkin. I have since squeezed in some roses and a pair of cowboy boots.

And here's a little funny from this evening. Christian was passing out (because he's an early riser), so we gathered for family prayer. Alexander was going to pray, but he still wanted us to tell him what to say. Chris said that when he's 5, he has to pray by himself. That was when Alexander said (direct quote):

"When I'm big like you, I'm going to change my name. And that name is going to be Benjamin."

I lost it. Too funny.

That resulted simply from the instructions that he was to be able to pray by himself when he's 5.

And even though Fall Break is starting, these temperatures certainly do not say Fall. It's especially frustrating because earlier this week we had nice low autumn-like temperatures with rain. Then THIS decides to come back.  
And because I'm grasping at straws for any hint of lower temperatures, here is Wickenburg's specific 7-day. At least those don't have the triple digits. But that isn't going to be too helpful when at least 4 days of my Fall Break I'll be down in the valley anyway.
However, just as I was going to end this entry with the crankiness of that forecast, I advanced it to next weekend, and it looks like it's going to start cooperating.
Until next time!

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