Saturday, January 22, 2011

CCAT New Year’s Plunge (Clearfield Swim Meet)

On Friday, January 14, and Saturday, January 15, Ryan participated in the CCAT (Clearfield) New Year’s Plunge swim meet. We had originally just signed him up for events on Saturday, but when we got the “psych sheet” – the confirmation of entries – Ryan’s coach had signed him up for a medley relay with three other teammates – on Friday!

Ryan and I went up on Friday, and Rara & Papa met us there. In the Medley Relay, Ryan swam third – the Butterfly. The first swimmer (Backstroke) got the team off to a slow start, but it was also his first time doing the Medley Relay. They were all a little bit nervous. We kept saying that our goal for them was to finish! They needed to set a time in order to be eligible for future timed events, and they accomplished that goal. We think they came in 6th place, but we don’t have the official results yet.

On Saturday, Ryan swam the 50 Butterfly, 50 Breaststroke, and a new, never-been-done-by-Ryan 100 IM. For you non-swimmers, the 100 IM (Individual Medley) involves the swimmer doing a length of each of the four strokes – Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle. He beat his own times in the 50 Butterfly and 50 Breaststroke, which is always our primary goal. As with the Medley Relay, our goal for the IM was for him to finish with a comparable time, which he did.

Here are a few pictures from the meet (both days):

Medley relay...
Butterfly… Relaxed and whistling on the deck between the Butterfly and Breaststroke… Breaststroke…
IM… We'll be at a meet in Sugarhouse next weekend, and then in Park City a couple of weeks after that. Swimming pools around the state really are becoming our second home!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

759 Down, 764 To Go!

Several months ago, Ryan and I started reading “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” together. It is the final book in the Harry Potter series. We had read about half of the book by the time that Part 1 of the movie came out in late November. I spent a few hours that weekend finishing the book. At that point, Ryan decided that he also wanted to finish it on his own. It is 759 pages. He was so motivated to read over the Christmas break! He spent much less time on video games than he likely would have over the break, since he was so determined to finish reading the book. His current term ends in a couple of weeks, and January 14 is the last day that the kids can take their Accelerated Reading (AR) tests for points toward their reading goals. Ryan’s goal was to take the AR test his first day back. He finished the book late last week, took the AR test this past Monday, and passed! He made his AR goal for the term! YEA!

I begin a new term (and my FINAL TERM of coursework) this coming Monday. I have two classes, and I understand that they truly are the most difficult courses in the program. I will be taking Advanced Instructional Design and Advanced Practicum in Research Design. The research class is designed to prepare students for the comprehensive exams and dissertation, so it is pretty heavy. The book in my instructional design course is 764 pages! I’m still waiting for the books for the other course.

There’s a lot of reading ahead, but if Ryan can read a 759 page book, so can I! :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Job(s)!

Since my graduation from Brigham Young University, I have considered a position at BYU to be my “dream job.” I receive the weekly email list of job postings, but nothing has fit my preferences and qualifications…until a couple of months ago. The position of “Director of Independent Study” was posted. I looked at the qualifications, and I seemed to be on the low end (i.e. I had all of the minimum “required” qualifications, but not many of the “preferred” qualifications). The salary was twice what I make now! I thought, “Oh, that would be a fun job sometime in the future.” I happened to mention it to the fam, and (after several discussions), Frances convinced me to apply. I thought there was NO WAY that I would even hear anything back, other than a “thanks but no thanks” letter. I submitted my application about two hours before the job closed.

Much to my surprise, I was called for an interview! I interviewed the week of Thanksgiving (the same day I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with strep). Since it was a director position, the people I interviewed with were a vice president and two associate vice presidents. Can you believe it? I couldn’t even comprehend that I was even being considered for the position enough to be interviewed! The interview went well, and I was pleased with how I did, even feeling horrible.

The vice president called me a few weeks later, letting me know that they had chosen someone else to fill the director position. Not a surprise. But he told me that they were impressed with me, and invited (encouraged, really) me to apply for any open position in his area in the future.

I can’t be too disappointed, because I did start a new job this past Monday! Just after I applied for the BYU position, I was invited to apply for a supervisory position with Western Governors University. I have been a faculty mentor with WGU for over six years. My former boss and a former co-worker and good friend have moved to a new department, and encouraged me to apply for an open position. I actually interviewed for this job the Friday before Thanksgiving, the same weekend as the BYU interview! Once I went through both interviews, it was clear that the WGU job would be the best fit for me at this point in my life. My new title is Performance Evaluation Facilitator for Teacher Education in the Assessment Department. I will be supervising 24 adjunct faculty members (for now…will likely grow) in the Foundations of Teaching area (Schools & Society, Human Growth and Development, Diversity and Inclusion, Classroom Management, and Testing). I am excited about my new position and the challenges it will bring.

Lastly, I have a new church calling. I was released as the Cubmaster after being a cub scout leader for almost six years. This year is going to be crazy as I (hopefully!) finish my PhD, so I was hoping for a low-pressure church calling, and had actually requested that. I am now the bulletin board coordinator. (I’ll give you a minute to laugh.) I’ve had a few people ask me how I got that great job. I’m tempted to say, “Earn your PhD as a single mom, while also working full time.” However, my response has generally been, “Inspiration.” Those who know me and my situation know that means, “If I add one more thing to my plate, I’m likely to spend the rest of the year in a padded room, and the people that need to know that, know that.” For those who don’t know my situation, it is a quick way to shut down any more snide comments and questions. I’m actually pretty excited about it. It will be like creating a big scrapbook page!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Team!

Our faithful readers know that Ryan is a swimmer. He made the South Davis Tsunami swim team in late August 2009. There are five levels of the team. Generally, kids spend about a year at each level before moving on. We know many kids who have spent even more time at the various levels, depending on their abilities and the open slots on higher teams. Each level has its own coach, with one head coach that oversees all of the teams. The two lowest levels swim for an hour a day, 5 days a week. The three upper levels swim for 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, and also have “dry land” time, which is weight lifting and other conditioning.

The lowest team used to be called “Pre-Comp,” but is now called “Developmental-Silver.” Ryan was on that team from the last week of August 2009 to the last week of May 2010 (9 months). In early June 2010, he was invited to move up to the next level (formerly “Pre-Junior,” now “Developmental-Gold.”) In August, the head coach identified Ryan as the recipient of the “Most Improved Swimmer” trophy out of ALL of the kids on ALL of the teams!

On Tuesday, January 4, I noticed that the head coach was walking along the bulkhead watching kids on Ryan’s team. Ryan also noticed, and even commented to a couple of less-committed teammates that they needed to perform especially well because the head coach was watching.

As Ryan and I were leaving the pool after practice, the head coach approached us. He said, “When are we moving Ryan up to the Junior Team?” I said, “Whenever you’re ready!” He said, “How about now?” He explained that he transitions kids from the 1-hour team to the 2-hour team by having them swim the first hour with the lower (current) team, and then moving over to the higher (new) team for the second hour to see how they do. Ryan is thrilled! He knows he’ll likely be the youngest, smallest, and slowest on the new team, but he is excited to be moving up after only 7 months on the Developmental-Gold team!

Ryan doesn’t go to swimming on Wednesdays, so today, Thursday, January 6, Ryan planned to begin the transition to the new team. Just a few minutes into his warm-ups, the head coach came over and pointed to Ryan, and then motioned for Ryan to follow him. Instead of taking a while to transition, he apparently is just moving Ryan up!

We’ll keep you posted on how it all goes!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year Celebrations

We had a great time celebrating the new year. So much fun, in fact, that we celebrated for four days! Salt Lake City has its “3VE” celebration for three consecutive nights. We have learned over the years that the first and second nights are not as packed, but have the same activities. This year we went on Wednesday, December 29, with our friends Kristin and Abby. As with prior years, we took the FrontRunner train into SLC, and then the Trax train between locations. By the time we got to SLC, we were in the middle of a blizzard! Even though we had to walk about a block, we decided it was better than having to drive around downtown in the blizzard!We started at the LDS Church History Museum. It has been a few years since we have been there, so we had a great time exploring again. They had a couple of fun activities for kids, including coloring a vellum paper modeled after the stained glass window of “The First Vision.”
As we left the Church History Museum (in the blizzard) and walked to the Trax station, we passed a JB’s restaurant. Kristin noticed a big sign saying that kids eat free on Wednesdays! We couldn’t pass that up! Even though it wasn’t the California Pizza Kitchen dinner that Ryan had hoped for, it was a great (and cheap!) dinner.

We spent the rest of the evening at the Salt Palace/Convention Center. Ryan and Abby were in heaven in the Bounce Town (set up in the huge exhibit hall). Any parent knows that “bounce houses” are a popular attraction at warm-weather festivals and fairs, but usually cost a couple of dollars each, and have a line of kids wrapped around them. The Bounce Town had about 20 different bounce houses/slides/obstacle courses, and only about 20 kids in the entire place! Ryan & Abby could run between their favorites, and get right on! The event planners thought about parents, and had a corner set up with tables, chairs, and live bands for parents to be entertained while their kids were being entertained. Needless to say, we stayed there until both kids’ faces were flushed from all of the running, bouncing, and excitement.Across the hall from the Bounce Town was the “Ball Room.” Yes, it was in the ballroom, but it was filled with beach balls of all sizes. A few were literally 5 to 6 FEET in diameter! Again, there were only about 20 other people in the huge room. Kristin and I sat on the floor as we were entertained (and attacked) by the kids.By this time, the kids were exhausted! But since it was only about 8:30 pm, we dragged them around some more!We went outside, where there were ice sculptures, praying mantis truck, and (Ryan’s favorite) a Lamborghini Mercielago.We made our way to the ski & snowboarding exhibition that was held along West Temple, which was closed to traffic for the event. Again, there were only about 20 people watching. (By the way, we watched the news coverage of 3VE on New Year’s Eve, and the crowds were horrendous!) We were standing near the bottom of the hill by the jump, which happened to be right next to the broadcast tower. The announcers heard everything we said! Once they realized this, Ryan & Abby started chanting what they wanted the skiers & snowboarders to do. The announcers would then relay the “request” to the athletes, who would generally comply. Ryan & Abby thought it was amazing that they were in control of the athletes’ stunts! I’m sure that wouldn’t have happened on New Year’s Eve!Perhaps the highlight was when one of the snowboarders walked by and agreed to a photo with Ryan & Abby. We don’t know his name, but to the kids, he was a celebrity!On Friday, December 31, we spent some time with Kristin & Abby again, having lunch with our friend, Laurel. Laurel is our world-traveler friend, and has lived in some fascinating places. We always enjoy spending time with her when she is in town for the holidays. We had a great lunch at El Matador, and enjoyed sitting and visiting for a couple of hours.

That afternoon/evening, we hung out with Rara & Papa and Alice & Claire. We attended a fun party at the Strands, celebrating not only New Year’s Eve, but also Uncle Randy’s birthday and Gage’s birthday. Alice & Claire spent more time playing with Gage’s new toy than he did! And, as always, Ryan loved spending time with his second cousins, Abby & Josh.When we got home, Alice & Claire & I had some spa time. I painted their fingernails with color-changing Del Sol polish (this one changes from silver glitter to pink glitter). When I finished Claire’s fingernails, she took off her socks and said, “What about toes?!?!” So we did toes. :)We helped get the girls to bed, and then Ryan & I went home. We had a great time watching football bowl games, playing board games, eating treats, and banging pots & pans and blowing horns at midnight. (Sorry, Melissa! In the middle of our noise we realized that your house looked pretty dark. I hope we didn’t wake up your kids!)

On Saturday, January 1, we were back at the Strands for the annual Candy Bar Train Party. Rara & Aunt Dott have gathered their grandkids together for several years to make the trains. I think they started doing it when there were only 3 grandkids. This year, 7 were old enough to participate!Uncle Randy had bought a big tub of fireworks, but for a variety of reasons, we didn’t do them on New Year’s Eve. So, after the candy bar trains were done, Uncle Randy took the big kids out and did the fireworks.Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011