Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Celebrations

As usual, we began our Christmas celebrations early in December, and continued throughout the month. Here are some of the highlights of our holiday season:

We enjoyed “Zoo Lights” with Kristin & Abby Randall…We went to see the lights at Temple Square on Christmas Eve with Rara, Papa, Marc, Frances, Alice & Claire…On Christmas morning, we opened a few presents at home……and then spent the rest of Christmas Day at Marc, Frances, Alice, and Claire’s house. We had fun opening presents, playing games, and playing with Alice & Claire.Ryan & I gave Alice & Claire personalized brushes (pink for Claire and purple for Alice), and personalized pillows with handles (Alice in Wonderland for Alice and The Little Mermaid for Claire). They LOVED them!
We also had our annual Jensen Family Christmas party a couple of days after Christmas.Our Christmas celebrations ended just in time for our New Year’s activities to begin!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving Week

On Sunday, November 21, Ryan gave a talk in Primary. Rara & Papa came to hear his talk, so the three of us were in the Primary room together. I was not feeling well, so I left after his talk. Our neighbors with boys around Ryan’s age brought him home. Later that night, I began developing white sores in my throat. Yuck!

Monday I still was not feeling well, so I called the doctor. I was pretty sure it was strep throat because of the white sores. When I got to the doctor’s office, the medical assistant did the rapid strep test and went to process it. My doctor came into the exam room and said, “Let’s take a look.” As soon as she looked at my throat, she said, “Whoa! I don’t even have to wait for the test results. That’s strep!” Yes, the week of Thanksgiving.

We had made plans to volunteer serving lunch/dinner to the homeless on Thanksgiving. My doctor assured me that if I started my antibiotics Monday when I got home, that I would feel better by Thanksgiving day, and would no longer be contagious.

On Thanksgiving I was feeling quite a bit better, so we followed through with our volunteer responsibilities. There is a public park in downtown Salt Lake City where the homeless people hang out. There is a Greek Orthodox Church right across the street. It’s the church that serves a big sit-down full service meal to the homeless on Thanksgiving.

We checked in and got our name tags and aprons. We attend the Greek Festival every year, so it was fun to be in the various areas we are familiar with as we fulfilled this assignment. (One of the volunteer supervisors that Rara knows took all of these pictures. Sorry that some are blurry.)We were assigned to serve a table. The main hall had about 40 tables set up (our table was #35). We are in the back right corner of this picture.As people would come through the door, they would sit at a table. The servers would get salads from one corner of the hall, and then the main dinner plate from a serving line in the kitchen.

We had one fun guest in particular that was a lot of fun. He had a long white beard, and he entertained Ryan by pulling his beard up over his face and tucking it into his hat. It was pretty funny. Another guest stayed and stayed, but just picked at his food. We each asked him if there was something else he needed. Finally he told Rara that he didn’t have anywhere else to go, and it was so cold outside that he just wanted to stay in there as long as possible. There were several groups who took turns entertaining, so it was a nice atmosphere to hang out in for a while.Even though I was getting over strep, and Papa also wasn’t feeling great, it was a wonderful experience. Ryan was touched to see so many families come in. He had an image of homeless people being the panhandlers we sometimes see. It didn’t occur to him that there would be kids close to his age. Sometimes Ryan feels a little deprived. He has a lot of friends whose families have a lot of money. Many of his friends have flat-screen TVs in their bedrooms (we don’t have one at all), or other toys he wants. Seeing most of these people carrying around all of their worldly possessions in garbage bags, or duct-taped backpacks helped him realize how blessed he truly is.

Come to think of it, it did that for all of us!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ryan's SEP and Dance Informance

I say this all the time, but I LOVE being Ryan’s mom! He is such an awesome kid at home, so it’s wonderful to see and hear that he is the same way away from home. We had his first term SEP with his teacher, Mrs. Busk, on Wednesday, November 9. She was so excited to show me Ryan’s grades, test scores, art projects, and short stories that Ryan has written. She also expressed appreciation for Ryan’s sense of humor. She said she loves it when she says something subtly funny/a bit sarcastic, and Ryan gets it. Most importantly, she mentioned how much she appreciates that Ryan is a friend to everyone. That is something that Ryan and I have talked about since he started school. It really, really bothers him when he sees someone being treated unfairly. I always challenge him to make sure he is kind to everyone. It’s so nice to hear that his teacher notices that happening. Thursday, November 18 was Ryan’s 5th grade “dance informance.” Every year, each grade creates dances representing some of the things they are learning about. Two years ago, Ryan’s 3rd grade classes did several science dances. Last year, the 4th grade program centered around Utah history. This year the 5th grade did U.S. history. Here are a couple of pictures from the program…The 5th graders have been mentors to kindergarten kids, and the two grades have done a lot together. Around Halloween, the dance teacher also taught the kids the dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Apparently the 5th graders begged enough that she let them do it at the very end of the program. IT WAS AWESOME! Since many of the parents are children of the 80s, we grew up doing the Thriller dance. It was hysterical to see all of our kids doing it. Even the kindergarteners had a little spot where they got up and did part of it. Of course the whole program was entertaining, but the Thriller dance was the hit of the show!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Anaheim - Disneyland and PhD Track 3

For my PhD program, I have to attend three residencies, where I have a few days of intense courses. Last October, I attended Track 1 in Washington, DC. Ryan, Rara, and Papa went with me. In June, I attended Track 2 in Dallas (I went by myself). For Track 3 in Anaheim, Ryan, Marc & Frances, and Alice & Claire went with me!

We left on Wednesday, November 3, and drove to St. George. We stayed with my cousin, Misty, and her family. Since there are so few cousins in our family, our kids (the second cousins) are more like cousins. Ryan and Abby and Josh had a great time together, playing Rock Band and jumping on the trampoline.On Thursday, November 4, we drove the rest of the way to Anaheim. We checked in to the hotel, and I checked in for my residency. The hotel (the Hyatt) was beautiful, and our suite was really quite nice!I started classes at 5:00 pm on Thursday, and then had a welcome reception. Frances and the girls stayed in the hotel room. The girls went to bed pretty early. Ryan and Marc went to Disneyland for a few hours.

On Friday, November 5, I had classes from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The rest of the family spent the day at Disneyland. When I finished with my classes, Ryan and I went to Downtown Disney, and had fun shopping and eating. We loved the Lego store, and Ryan bought a Star Wars set that he has been saving up for!On Saturday, November 6, I had classes from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm again. I had a lot of homework, not only for the residency courses, but my other two courses, too. Marc and Frances put the girls to bed, and then I stayed in the hotel room for the evening with the kids while Marc and Frances enjoyed an evening at Disneyland together.

Here are some of my favorite pictures Frances took at Disneyland…On Sunday, November 7, we had a Track 3 “recognition breakfast” at 6:45 am! But it was totally worth it. We got our Track 3 pins, but I was also able to spend quite a bit of time talking with the instructor that I’d like to ask to be my dissertation chair. She gave me some excellent suggestions of things to be doing and reading now in preparation for my comprehensive exams and dissertation.

During all of my Track 3 courses during the week, the Instructional Design for Online Learning (IDOL) specialization students sat together. Here are a few pictures of our group…The final culmination project for Track 3 learners is the “poster session.” We created posters which outlined all of the elements of our dissertation. Then Track 1 and Track 2 students came around and asked questions about our posters and projects. Track 2 students write a paper on their interview with a Track 3 student. It was a lot of fun. My possible dissertation chair also spent some time with me during the poster session, giving me some additional ideas.Here are all of the “IDOL” students (and two faculty members) at the beginning of the poster session… When my courses ended, we checked out of the hotel and headed to Newport Beach. I knew that if I just had a few minutes on the beach, walking in the sand and in the water, that would be enough of a “vacation” for me. It was nice to have a few relaxing minutes after the stress of the residency.
We got take out at Ruby’s on Balboa Pier and ate on a bench on the pier.
Due to school commitments, Frances needed to fly home for her Monday classes. We drove to Las Vegas and dropped her off at the airport to fly home. Then Marc, Ryan, Alice, Claire, and I continued on to St. George. There was a miscommunication about where we were staying, but we were able to spend the night with Aunt Dott’s good friend, Carolyn. Marc and I have known Carolyn for most of our lives, but we hadn’t seen her for a while. Dott was at work, so Randy called Carolyn and made the arrangements for us to all stay there. She was so great to let us all stay there at the last minute. We all felt pretty guilty, but when we got up Monday morning and walked into her kitchen/dining room, we noticed a quote above her window. It said something like “A happy home is one that shelters friends.”

Monday morning, Carolyn loaded us up with drinks and snacks, and we continued home. The kids were all so good during all of those hours in the car. We made it home to Rara’s & Papa’s, where Frances also came after her classes. We had fun exchanging reports about things – especially the girls’ reports about Mickey and the princesses.

The trip was fun, but I am thrilled that my residencies are now done!!!