Mar 30, 2011

By the way...

The first time I heard/saw "btw" was in Sunday School... I was 14. Apparently it was a life-changing experience because I remember where I was sitting (in the 3rd seat from the left) and what what happening (attendance). Okay, moving on.

Why do we substitute "btw" for "by the way?" It makes sense when typing, but vocalizing "btw" seems a little silly. Because it's more syllables than just saying it! Think about it. By-the-way. Bee-tee-dub-ul-you. (That's officially how you spell w, btw: dubulyou.) So to shorten the "bee-tee-dub-ul-you" people say, "bee-tee-dub" and sometimes you'll hear "bee-tee-dubs." I'm just saying. But "bee-tee-dub(s)" is just as efficient as "by the way" (same number of syllables). So there must be a coolness factor in saying "bee-tee-dubs." Then, I figure, if that's the cool thing to say, it might be the cool thing to type!  


Eh, maybe not. Why not just dubs? Because then posterity would wonder, "how in the world did we get from 'by the way' to 'dubs'?!" We wouldn't wanna stress them out. dubs, we're going to Duke.

Mar 25, 2011

TRULY Looking for the Good

I am currently taking a class on the Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This week we read and talked about Howard W. Hunter, the 14th president. I was really impressed with the sincere love he had for Christ, his family, and even for those he met only briefly. My teacher (Lawrence Flake) related a story to us from Elder Huntsman's point of view. Unfortunately I don't know where to find the story so I will attempt to tell you what happened in my own words.
President Hunter, age 85 (source)

Elder Huntsman was driving when he passed by President Hunter's home and felt impressed to stop by and see how President Hunter was doing. Elder Huntsman inquired, and President Hunter replied that he had just though ill of someone and because of that thought he felt physically sick. President Hunter asked for a blessing to help him overcome the thought.

Can you imagine being so sensitive to the Holy Spirit that you are physically affected when you so much as think a bad thought about someone else? I am inspired by President Hunter to be more Christ-like, to look for the good in others.

 President Uchtdorf reminds us that we can choose to look for the good:
Dieter F. Uchtdorf (source)
"We have a choice. We can seek for the bad in others. Or we can make peace and work to extend to others the understanding, fairness, and forgiveness we so desperately desire for ourselves. It is our choice; for whatever we seek, that we will certainly find." (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Looking for the Good", Liahona, March 2011, 4–6)
President Hunter exemplifies the person just described. He chooses to look for the good. In the same talk, President Uchtdorf said:
"There is no end to the creativity, ingenuity, and tenacity of those who look for reasons to criticize. They cannot seem to release their grip on grudges. They gossip and find fault with others. They nurse wounds for decades, taking every opportunity to tear down and demean others. This is not pleasing to the Lord, 'for where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work' (James 3:16)."
I do not want to be like that. I am reminded of the children's song, "When I am Baptized" (Children’s Songbook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 103).
"I like to look for rainbows whenever there is rain
And ponder on the beauty of an earth made clean again.

I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain.
I want to be the best I can and live with God again.

I know when I am baptized my wrongs are washed away,
And I can be forgiven and improve myself each day.

I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain.
I want to be the best I can and live with God again."
I want to be clean. I want to be the best I can.

Mar 23, 2011

Date night

 Doug is romantic. Didn't know that? It's true :). 

The Martha Graham Dance Company came to BYU! And Doug was nice enough to take me to see them. We sat in our seats (great seats by the way!) and Doug said, "I'm really going to try to appreciate this." Fake it 'til you make it, right? I'm so lucky :). It was really fun to watch them. It was amazing, I  felt my creative juices start to flow by just watching them! Crazy, right?

 We make a great couple. Don't you think?

I'm not quite sure if Doug appreciated the dancing, but I sure did. When I see such talent I almost wish I had been more serious about ballet in college and majored in dance. If I could get a second undergraduate degree, that's what it would be. Or statistics. HA just kidding.

Mar 21, 2011

Blonde moment

I've been using:

Instead of:

See the difference? I didn't... I can't help but laugh at myself. 
Haha, who does that?

Mar 19, 2011

I can only get better!

HAPPY 169th BIRTHDAY, Relief Society!!!

Today, our local Relief Society celebrated the 169th year since its founding. It was actually March 17th, but we're close enough. The women of our ward got together and learned how to make fondant and decorate cakes - cupcakes, as it were.
Cake #1 - the frosting was more textured, but it melted a little because it was so soft!
Cake #2 - the middle was a pink flower; again, it melted. but you can kinda see it, right?
Here's a closer look at the weaving. 

It was super fun! And easy. Obviously mine aren't the best, there were some really beautiful cupcakes that other women did. Still, I'm pretty proud of what I did accomplish - I can only get better! Now I'm trying to decide if I should eat them, or save one for Doug...

I'm so glad to be a part of such a wonderful women's organization! I don't know of any other women's organization that is worldwide (170 countries) with more than 5 million members. 

As a side note, before Utah was made a state (1847-1852) women were voting in political elections. Utah women lost that right to vote when Utah became a state (ironic, right?). In 1870, women again received their suffrage and could hold office in 1880. And yet again the federal government took that right away with the Edmund's Tucker law in 1887. It wasn't until the 19th Amendment in 1920 that they could vote again (source).

Anyway, all I'm trying to say is that I love being a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have greatly benefited from the Relief Society across generations. My mother and grandmothers and great-grandmothers were members of the Relief Society too. What a legacy of strong, talented, loving women.

Mar 18, 2011

Books don't have to be expensive

I'm not one to spend a lot of money on books or movies. I love sales and inexpensive stuff in general. But sometimes, Target or Walmart really do not have the selection or quality I'm looking for - especially in infant, children, or YA literature (I guess I'm kind of a snob).

So, I turn to Borders. They have a fabulous selection of really great reads. The problem: I'm buying at a retail price. Boooo. Fortunately they treat their members really well. Hooray! I get emails with coupons pretty much every week. I swear, I have never bought anything at full price (unless I'm in a hurry and didn't plan ahead). For example, this week I have a 33% off coupon for any item AND a 50% off coupon for a blu-ray. It's awesome. Like, really awesome. Oh, and membership is free - you just have to walk in the store and ask.

Why not buy at a second-hand store? The thing is, when I buy books/movies, I'm usually buying them as gifts. And used books just don't cut it. Especially if it's a baby book. GROSS. I have to admit, Amazon is probably a really good alternative too. But can you get How to Train Your Dragon, blu ray (including regular DVD) for 16.50? nope, though you can get it for 23.

Anyway, all I'm saying is I'm a happy camper when I get quality books at discount prices.

Mar 15, 2011

Grad School

Doug and I will graduate in April. Doug will have his master's degree in Statistics and I will have my bachelor's in Special Education. That's in 5 weeks. FIVE WEEKS! Hooray!

and then what?

3 weeks in Europe. Italy, Germany, and Rome. What a nice little vacation ;). After that, Doug has a paid internship this summer at GE's Research and Development center in Niskayuna, NY (my hometown, saweeeeet). And then on to grad school.

Where, you ask? That has yet to be decided. But, I am pleased to announce that Doug has been accepted to PhD statistics programs at Texas A&M, Cornell, Duke, and Harvard. YES!!! We opened Doug's acceptance letter (Harvard) at 10 AM this morning. 

Don't believe me?

BOOYAH. My husband is the smartest husband ever. Congratulations, Doug!!

Mar 11, 2011

Maybe I was wrong.

Ipads and Autism - Still, I maintain my previous opinion. I would like to see some real research done on this issue.

People with Disabilities in the Media - I thought that people were being portrayed incorrectly. Fortunately, this is changing. (Kudos to Brian for being right :).)

Mar 7, 2011

Sickly Singing

Doug has a mild case of the flu which has lasted four days now. Obviously his sickness brings back childhood memories because he has asked for: apple juice, toast, apple juice, chicken noodle soup (I've never heard him request that before!), TV, and more apple juice. It's apparent that he has a fever because: he hasn't touched the freeze pops in the freezer and didn't scarf down the pizza the the LeMaistres kindly brought over for him.

Anyway, Doug has reported having crazy thoughts, so crazy that he can't even put them into words (and that's saying something!). Saturday evening, Doug crawled into bed, wrapped all the blankets around him and started singing. I was in the middle of brushing my teeth but I had to grab the camera and record it:

Some pop cultcha:

And a little bit of classical...

This is priceless.

Mar 4, 2011

Common sense, please!

Behavior management is a crucial component of a special education classroom. In fact, on some days I felt like I spent more of my time managing behaviors than teaching academic content! Some common (and general) techniques to manage behavior include: positive reinforcement, self-management,  charts and contracts, and restraint and seclusion. Restraint and seclusion often include putting a student in a timeout room, buckling a student into a seat (with the intention of keeping him from getting up), holding a student still, or intentionally blocking a student's path. Because of the potentially harmful nature of restraint and seclusion, it is a very debated topic. Currently, Oregon's legislature is looking at passing a law to ban most use of restraint and seclusion.

The Issue:
Restraint and seclusion can definitely be taken to the extreme--abuse. As in this case:
"DES MOINES — After failing to finish a reading assignment, 8-year-old Isabel Loeffler was sent to the school's time-out room — a converted storage area under a staircase — where she was left alone for three hours. The autistic Iowa girl wet herself before she was finally allowed to leave."
This (in)famous story is one of several in which a child a child dies because of their teacher's insanity. This year, in Oregon: "The proposed law would ban prone restraints—in which children are face down, mechanical restraints such as duct tape, handcuffs, or straps, and chemical restraints including medications and drugs." [my opinion interjected: WHERE IS THE COMMON SENSE? This is obviously unacceptable and begs me to wonder how these people have been in the education system so long!!]

Teachers who use this method (in humane ways) to manage their students' behavior often have "difficult" students. In other words, students who behave such that they put themselves and others in danger. Consider this recent story. An 8-year-old boy is arrested, and suspended (for the fifth time) due to his behavior at school. The story does not give much detail but this it presents a valid concern and need for restraint.

What I think:
I believe that the way a teacher manages behavior is in the teacher's control, not the students'. (Honestly, I have spent less than a year in the classrooms, so my experience with implementing these principles is still limited.) I firmly believe in establishing a positive environment and applying positive techniques in order to prevent misbehavior. I worked in a classroom of students who have autism (and students with autism-like behaviors) and consequently, I learned a lot in behavior management. I believe that a teacher can be effective without the use of handcuffs, time-out rooms, duct tape, or chemical treatment. (I've seen time-out rooms and chemical treatment used, not in my classroom, as regular consequences for certain students when they misbehave.)
Fortunately, the extreme stories mentioned above are far and few between. Unfortunately, they are not far and few between enough because we have to establish laws to prevent it. I am glad for the teachers out there who use common sense and who recognize that these students are human beings, not animals we spray in the face or shut up in a room when we don't approve. I pray that everyone can recognize that they are people first, disability second, and treat them as such.

Mar 1, 2011

Lots of Awesome Things.

DISCLAIMER (if parenthetical statements bother you, don't read this post)

Last Thursday was stinkin' awesome.
  • Doug passed his defense. (and will soon be published x4)
  • Maria learned of her acceptance to BYU. (Cha-ching!)
  • I got a 63 on a midterm. (okay, not so awesome)
  • We drove up to Ogden. (again, not so awesome)
  • We began a weekend full of family fun. (super awesome)
Snow skiing is a family favorite. This year, my family came to Utah to ski - which has, literally, the best snow on earth. Especially this year (ahem, week)! We had a blast. Thursday night, Doug and I drove up to Ogden where we were staying (thanks, Nelsons!).
Daniel, Maria, Mom, and Sarah at Temple Square

Friday, I went to Snowbasin with my family:

Apparently, Maria doesn't much care for my face.

I even tried snowboarding. It was harder than I expected...
The quality isn't great (horrible actually), but you can tell that I'm about to fall down.
Anyway, the snow was perfect. So perfect that it might have found its way into my mouth. Don't judge, sometimes you just have to follow your heart!

Saturday was for the experts: Maria, Daniel, and Dad (in no particular order). and I tagged along (I used to be the best, now I take 4th place haha- cest la vie). At Powder mountain they groom only one trail. Awesome. For those of you who have not experienced that much powder, it's intense. Daniel looked like he was bathing in snow (except for when he was going off jumps...every other minute). I fell like fifty times. But I rocked like 100 times. Booyah.

Here is a clip of my last run (much of the powder had been skied through and thus manageable). Sexy, right?

That's what I thought.