Kids These Days…

At the risk of sounding like one of those crazy, old, “get off my lawn!” geezers, I’m gonna talk about kids these days. Specifically… teenagers. I was a teenager once, I coach teenagers, I worked with the teenager girls in church for a few years, I teach teenagers… So, yeah. I’m an expert on teenagers. Pretty much.

I have these two girls on my high school color guard. Neither girl would be considered a star performer. They aren’t bad at all. They just aren’t great. I have some girls on my guard that are great. These two girls aren’t girls I would give a solo to and they often have to be given extra instruction and corrected many times before they fix a technique issue. There is a huge difference in these two girls, however, and that is desire.

One girl wants to be great. I mean, she really, really wants it. She takes her equipment home every day and practices every. single. day. She hasn’t been put on the weapons line yet, but she still works on her rifle and sabre technique. She goes with other girls to practice in the park. She signed up to help teach at a middle school and an elementary school so she could learn how to write choreography and how to teach basics, all while improving her own. Over the summer, she traveled to California to attend a clinic put on by the Blue Devils (one the best drum corps out there who has, hands down, the best color guard). I don’t think there is a single girl on my guard who wants it more than this girl. She will do anything to improve. She has made goals to be in a drum corps and wants to teach guard one day. She wants this.

The other girl has been doing dance and guard for a while, and she says she loves it and guard is her life. But I have noticed that rather than wanting this, she expects it. She expects that because she is an upperclassman, she will be on the weapons line. She expects that because she has been dancing for x many more years than someone else, then she should be the dance captain. She expects to come to rehearsal and learn all the technique and all the choreography and just be able to do it. She rarely takes her equipment home, and she rarely spends any time practicing (I’ve taught guard and private music lessons long enough, I know when a student has practiced.). She skips rehearsal because she’s “sick” or “has too much homework”. She never volunteers her time to help other, newer, younger students out. She trash talks the student leadership and acts as if she could do a better job, but never applies for the position herself. She gossips about her fellow members rather than calls them to meet with them. She never tries to do anything extra. She just expects that she will get it. She expects that leadership positions will be given to her. She expects that people will respect her because of the years of “experience”. She says she wants it, but she has shown me that she expects it and isn’t willing to actually work for it.

In my middle school guard, I have many girls who leave rehearsal frustrated and upset. They come to me and say, “I’m no good at this! I’m not a natural. I want to quit. This isn’t fun.” This is after the first or second rehearsal, friends. Not at the end of the season. No one is good at color guard in the first rehearsal! No one is a natural! It is not natural to spin a flag or toss a rifle. These are techniques and skills that have to be taught, worked at, practiced, and perfected over a long period of time. These girls expect to come to rehearsal and just get it and have tons of fun. I have to teach them that if you don’t have to work for it, it’s not worth doing. No one has told them that.

It’s a shame, really, because I see so much talent and promise in these middle school girls and so much talent and promise in those high school girls. But when they just expect it to happen? That’s when things don’t happen. Rather than taking their lack of training or ability as a kick in the butt to work harder, they whine and cry and threaten to quit. Many girls do quit. They won’t put in the effort. They just don’t want it. And that makes me sad.

I don’t expect anything. Ever. It really isn’t worth having if it’s handed to me and I don’t have to work for it. I can’t savor my success the same way as when I know I have put in all my effort and all my desire. The result is truly sweet when I get my wants that I’ve worked for.

All Happiness and All Grief

It has been so hard to actually come here and write. My emotions have been up and down for about two weeks now. I have had some really great and wonderful things happen… And I’ve had some really terrible, tragic things happen. Not to me, but to people I care about and love greatly, and it has broken my heart.

I’m so happy to announce the end of such a successful winter guard season. My guard won first place at their last regular competition, then competed at state championships where again, they won first place in their division. It wasn’t our best performance, but it was enough. The girls worked so hard this season. My staff and I wanted this win not just for them, but for us. I felt like I really had something to prove as I am not part of the “in crowd” of guard coaches. I run my program differently than most people do. I never marched drum corps. In fact, I was never a member of a winter guard!! This whole activity is new to me, and I wanted to come out and make a statement. I think I did. I’m disappointed a bit in some of our local judges. I felt like there were a couple who took an instant dislike to our show and no matter what we did, it wasn’t going to be good enough for them. Their scores did hurt us in the end. However, the majority of the judges seemed to really love us. I am very excited for marching band in the fall and next year’s winter guard. I hope we only get stronger. (And I hope next year our state doesn’t “cheap out” and actually brings in some judges who haven’t seen us at every local competition all season. Who aren’t invested in particular programs because they are on staff at those schools. Who aren’t part of “the club”, as I call it.)

My pregnancy is moving along just fine. It’s definitely harder than my others, but knowing this is my last pregnancy also makes me want to try to enjoy it for what it is. I may be tired and sore all the time (seriously, I’m in SO MUCH pain!!), but there is nothing in the world like feeling that little being inside me and knowing I’m making a human. I can’t wait to meet our little guy!! I honestly can’t believe I’m about to have another baby… another boy! Wow! I’m going to be a mom of FOUR boys! It’s just… trippy. Can’t really think of a better word. It’s amazing and scary and wonderful and frightening. Okay, so none of that is any different from any other pregnancy. 🙂

While I was at winter guard championships, I got a devastating phone call. A close friend’s son passed away. When I got the call, there were no details yet. We have a group of women who are pretty tight, and they didn’t want me to come home, get online, and suddenly see everything posted all over Facebook. No one wanted to send me into an early labor. I appreciated that. So I got a call from one of the other women. What made it worse was knowing that this little boy’s father was killed just one year earlier. I was devastated for my friend and for her young daughter. How could so much tragedy come to just one family?? When I got home, I found out this little 2 year old boy was being a normal child… a tragic accident that could happen to anyone. My friend has asked for privacy, so I won’t go into details. Just know that kids are kids and sometimes, no matter what you do, things happen. I’m still completely broken hearted over this. My friend is amazing and has said she doesn’t blame God or anything. She knows tragedy and fate has had a heavy hand in her life. She is fighting to stay strong for her daughter, who needs all the prayers and support we can give one so young. My friend doesn’t seem to question, but I sure do. All I could ask for days was “WHY?!”

And then, not even a week later, Julia posted the news about her daughter, Liz. Again, another child being a child. A freak and tragic accident. We could all only pray, as Liz was in the PICU. Then, exactly one week after the loss of one friend’s son, Julia and Paul lost Liz. I called my mom to let her know (she knew Paul from when he and I were classmates at Ricks, and my mom grew to know and love Julia through her blog). My mom said, “Oh, after everything they’ve gone through with their son’s health, it just doesn’t seem fair…” I interrupted her. “How is ANY of this EVER fair?” I am devastated and I am angry. I now know two families in the space of one week who have lost children. Doesn’t matter what the circumstances were. It’s just plain NOT FAIR.

I am so touched, however, by the unselfish generosity that Paul and Julia have bestowed on four strangers. With their 12 year old daughter’s death, two people will receive sight, one young man will walk, and a baby has received a new heart valve. Could there be anything more beautiful?

Most of you who read my blog know Paul and Julia, or you know my other friend. You all know the emotions I am feeling. We are all devastated.

I can’t help but feel a bit guilty. I’m trying not to, but I still do. How can I find such happiness in my own life when there has been so much despair for these two families? And right now, I AM finding happiness.

Aiden and Dallin and Parker are my three sons. They drive me crazy, but they fill me with happiness. I’ve been reading “Holes” to them before bed each night, and it’s been so fun! They have all looked forward to this mother/son time and when it doesn’t happen because I am gone for the evening or it just wasn’t a good day and every one is getting into bed an hour late, they are disappointed. They cry and they beg. I’m disappointed, too. It’s a lot of fun to experience things with them. I went on a field trip today just to be with Dallin. I had to miss out on one with him recently because they could only take a small amount of chaperones and I was so sad! I have never missed a field trip with Aiden or Dallin. Today was hard (it was the Zoo… lots of walking, hot weather, etc…), but it was still SO FUN. I am signed up to go with Aiden’s class to the science center in a couple of weeks. I get to volunteer in Aiden’s classroom each week and it’s just fun to sit and grade papers and watch the class go. I love that they want me there and Aiden is really upset if something comes up and I can’t come to his class. I love spending all this time with Parker just before he goes to Kindergarten. It’s a good thing we have this baby coming because otherwise I would be SO lonely when he goes to school next year! He’s my little buddy. We read together and go to the park and run errands and he is always asking me the most interesting questions, like “When Arizona was the Wild West, what did the first people do to find food?” and “Do we still have birthdays after we come back from Heaven?” We sing along together to the radio (seriously, you should hear this kid sing Adele. SO cute!!) and read books together and race up the stairs (he always wins). These boys fill me up with happiness.

And then there’s Ches. Our 14th anniversary is coming up in a few short weeks, and I can’t believe how much I am still in love with this guy. Sometimes I can still look at him and my heart skips a beat. When he’s not near me, I’m sad. It’s true. He’s about to go on a trip with his band and orchestra, and more than anything else, I’m sad to not have him in bed, snoring the night away. I love just sitting next to him on the couch. I love him teasing me the way he does (mostly). He’s funniest guy I know. He’s just plain fun. He makes me want to be better. Always and forever, I want to be a better person just because I can be… for him. We are so happy together. I love it.

Where am I going with this? I dont’ know. I have so many insane pregnancy hormones and emotions going on!! It’s hard to jump between the happy and the sad. And I just had to spit it out there for all of you to read.

F is for FAILURE

Warning:  This is a complainy post.  I’m not in a good mood.  If you want to be uplifted, please read my previous two posts and come back another day.  This is not an uplifting post day. 

We had our last winterguard rehearsal.  The kids wanted to meet early because one had to leave for a church activity.  The others were all going to invite family and friends to watch them perform.  Our first, last, and only actual performance was supposed to be on Friday, but were informed that this particular assembly wouldn’t have any student performers this year (as what had normally been done in the past).  So this performance for our families was going to be it.

I showed up to rehearsal and there was already a lot of drama going on between the kids.  Because of the cancellation of our Friday performance.  There were tears and foul language.  I sat the kids down and said “This is what’s going on” and then we tried to come up with what we were going to do instead. 

I looked around and realized that most of the kids were wearing jeans.  Jeans are NOT rehearsal clothes.  Shorts, dance pants, sweats, workout clothes… those are rehearsal clothes.  They know this.  Because we had rehearsal early, the kids “forgot” their dance clothes.  I was furious.  I had to send them home to change.  One girl said, “But I’m wearing stretchy jeans!  See??”  Uhhh, no.  I don’t care.  Jeans are jeans.  We talked about this starting Day One of rehearsals.

A couple kids stayed to learn stuff they had missed to get ready for the family performance, which by popular vote had been moved up from 8 pm to 6:30 pm.  At 6 I had to run home and get my family, frost the cupcakes, change my clothes into something respectable, feed the baby, and get back in time to rehearse the kids.  Yeah.  That so didn’t happen.

The family performance sucked.  I mean it really, really sucked.  The kids forgot half the choreography that we had spent so much time on Monday night.  They couldn’t remember all of their drill.  The CD skipped a couple of times towards the end, thereby cutting out probably a good 40 to 56 counts.  They wanted to try again, so we hooked up one kid’s mp3 player to the stereo to play the song.  Wierd things happened.  The sound would get really loud and fuzzy, then go back to normal.  That happened several times.  Again, the kids didn’t do all of the cool choreography (we had this awesome ripple towards the end!!).  But at least this time we didn’t skip any of it.

Everyone promised they would bring treats to share (like cookies and stuff) and we’d have a grand ol’ time.  Or so I thought.  One girl brought pizzas and her sister bought french bread and spinach dip (but no one thought to get out the bread and dip, so we didn’t have that) and I brought my cupcakes.  Suck.

A couple weeks ago our floor got folded up really badly, and since we didn’t get it finished with the painting, we didn’t worry about it much.  It’s really heavy and hard to fold, so I was waiting for a time when we were all together to get it folded properly, and I thought after our family performance would be the perfect time.  One girl (who has the most drama… another kid describes her as the most emo kid he’s ever met) was about to leave, so I asked her if she would be able to stay and help fold the floor.  She looked at me and whined, “But I haven’t been home all day!!”  I just about lost it.  I just looked at her and said, “Fine, whatever.  Go home.  I’m not forcing you to do anything.”  She stayed and helped anyway.

I feel like the whole season turned into one big failure.  I feel like no matter what I tried, things just wouldn’t go right.  I came home to the messiest house in the whole world.  I can’t get it clean.  My kids are so active and were running around the gym, screaming and playing as I’m trying to introduce myself to the parents and tell them a little about what we were doing.  It just feels like everything — not just winterguard, either — has failed.  I am the biggest failure ever. 

I’m scared of Child Protective Services coming to take my kids away because while I was in the back of the house, feeding the baby, the older two kids got out of the house and ran down the street and had to be brought home by a stranger.  My kids and I were all in our pajamas, even though it was 11 am.  I never heard the door open.  Aiden proudly announced, “We had an adventure and we were lost, Mom!”

I’m scared the school district is going to call me and say “You didn’t take your kids to any competitions, you didn’t perform in any shows, and your show sucked rocks, so we’d like the money we paid you back, please.”

I’m scared that I’m never going to get these bills paid from Parker’s birth and I’ll end up having to declare bankruptcy.

I’m scared that parents are going to complain that their kids didn’t do enough in winterguard and I suck and don’t hire Sariah back in the fall.

I have failed at everything I’ve tried to do lately.  I need some successes pretty soon here.  And don’t tell me “Hey, you are a success at failing!  Good job!” because I might just have to kick you in the head for that one.

I Guess I’m Just Too Old

Well, I survived the Guard overnighter at my house.  I really didn’t think it would be that big of a deal and wondered why parents would question me with, “Are you sure you want to do this?” and the like.  Now I know why they would ask such things.

The kids arrived a little after 6 pm.  None had eaten, so we pooled our money and went to Little Cesar’s to get some $5 Hot-n-Ready pizzas and $1 Crazy Bread.  At home we all enjoyed the food, then decided to have some fun.  One girl brought her Wii and her Playstion, so of course Aiden wanted to play with her.  While some kids played video games, I taught the others to play Ultimate Uno.  It was hilarious.  I haven’t played that since I went to Ricks College.  We all took turns on the Wii (and can I say… I really want one now.  Even I, the person who hates video games, had a ton of fun with it!  I liked the sports games, and thre was this cool doctor/surgeon game.  Crazy stuff.) and the kids had a lot of fun just talking and laughing.  About 3 am they finally decided to watch a movie, so we put in John Tucker Must Die.  That was pretty funny.  Of course, I didn’t see much of it because at 4 am I finally said, “I gotta go to bed. ”  I wanted to stay up with the kids the whole time (mostly to keep an eye on them because I promised moms to do so), but I just couldn’t.  I just don’t have the stamina to pull all-nighters anymore!  And then there is all the drama… Oh.  My.  Heck.  Hearing life stories and everyone trying to one-up each other… it was pretty funny, but I sure can’t keep up with them.    So anyway, the next morning we all got up.  The kids ate (one girl had to leave to go to work) and Ches and I started on some chores around the house.  One girl’s mom brought over some bagels, and the kids ate some more, then watched Bring It On (“These are not spirit fingers… These are spirit fingers!!”).  At noon I took the guard kids to a local high school so we could watch the winterguard competition.  That was pretty cool, but I have to say I was a little disappointed.  I expected higher quality from a lot more groups.  I was a bit surprised at song choice (soooooo many pop songs out there!) and the lack of a developed theme in the shows.  I mean, they had some good ideas, but it just didn’t seem to follow through completely.  Overall, though, we had a lot of fun watching these other groups.  We didn’t stay for awards, so we got back to my house about 4 pm.  Then the kids said, “Hey, you guys want to watch Step Up now?”

So I kicked them out of my house because we had things to do to get ready for Sunday!

I’m still trying to catch up on my sleep (not working) and clean the house (thankfully Ches is The Awesome!).  The kids had fun and a good bonding experience, but I think it will be a while before I do that again!  I’m not a teenager anymore.  I’m 30 years old!  I want to go to sleep early, dang it!  I look back at being a high schooler with fondness, but I am so so SO glad that I am past that stage of my life now.

Hard to Believe, But…

I. Am. Sunburned.

Here it is, February, and I am already working on my farmer’s tan. It’s only going to get worse. Today I was outside all morning to wash our floor for winterguard (the floor is essentially a giant tarp) so that I can spend all day on Monday painting the floor. Well, not just me. The guard kids were all there today and will be there on Monday, too. Next Saturday we are doing a carwash for a fundraiser. I’m pretty stinkin’ sure I’ll get even more burned on Monday and next Saturday, regardless on whether or not I wear sunblock.

I’m not complaining… too much. It’s gorgeous outside, and I welcome the chance to be out in the sun in shorts and a t-shirt. I’m not bragging, either… too much. I’ve spent many a February freezing as I wear long underwear under my jeans and a scarf tight around my neck. I’ve done my share of shoveling snow, slipping on ice, and being concerned about my hair freezing because I should have gotten up 15 minutes earlier than I did.

I just can’t believe it’s February and I got sunburned today!!

Winter Guard

I was thinking that most of you guys don’t actually know what a winter guard is. Because it is my job right now, and I’m bound to be talking about it a lot, I wanted to share with you what it is I’ll be doing. It’s a lot of fun. Definitely a lot of hard work, but a lot of fun, too. I’m lucky to be working with a great group of kids. There is no drama (yet) and they are all hard workers.

This video that I’m sharing is of a really talented group out of Florida. Their name is Paradigm. They aren’t a high school group, rather a community group that uses kids from the area. This was their 2005 show. I LOVE this show. Hope you guys enjoy it, too.