Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Becoming a Teacher

Reading tree with all my wise owls
I know it has been a long time since the last post but things have been very busy in the Phipps' household. Aaron has been studying non-stop for the GRE and I have been teaching. Aaron took the test this last Saturday and did an amazing job, like I knew he would, and has been able to relax. I however, have very little time to relax and am on my fourth week of teaching. It has been an experience like no other. I can't believe how exhausted I am everyday and not just physically but mentally also. I get home and my brain turns off. I swear I hear my bed calling my name every night at around 7:30 but I do my best to stay among the living until 9:00.
I am learning so much and have realized that the four years of education has prepared me for absolutely nothing except to respect all the work the teachers put into have every minute of every class planned. I know they say that teaching is the most rewarding job out there but I am still waiting for just one of my students to have an ah-ha moment. Just something to tell me I am on the right track. I do have fun with my students everyday, especially on the days they tell me I am the best teacher in the whole world. Things like that always help me get through the rest of the day. It has been crazy to go from a student to a teacher in such a short period of time, but in reality I still am a student that is asking for help, advice and just hanging on hoping I can help these kids find joy in learning by the end of the school year. I know I am where I belong I just need to make sure I am doing what is necessary to make the 27 second graders have a greater chance of succeeding in life. People always say that the first few years don't matter but they are really the most crucial. It is when they learn the basics and when they learn how act in society. Not only is this when they learn the basics in all the most important subjects but is when the students are the most impressionable. The teachers I remember the most are the teachers from kindergarten and Second grade. My kindergarten teacher was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted my students to know what I felt when ever I walked into her room, but I don't know how. I try to make my room a loving and warm environment but how do I know I have accomplished it? How do I show my students how much I care about their education and the individual attention they need? I want my students to feel important in my classroom. They need to know they have a voice and a purpose in this world. I know they are only seven but don't we all have to start defining ourselves somewhere? I may not always like my students but I can tell you I have grown to love all of them. I know it will be a long and hard year but I hope I can make it a rewarding one and not just for me but for the 27 children I am trusted with Monday thru Friday from 8:00 - 3:30.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Growing up

Well for those who don't already know I have received my very first teaching position through an internship program. Starting in August I will be a second grade teacher. Until today none of it really seemed real but today I was able to go meet with the other second grade teachers I will be working with. I haven't really felt grown up but I am starting my first real job and I will be in charge of 30+ 7 year olds.

I have never been so excited and so nervous at the same time. This will be one of the greatest experiences I will have the chance to be a part of. I have so many fun ideas I want to use in my classroom. Now all I have to do is plan a years worth of lessons this summer and figure out how I want to decorate my classroom and what theme I want. In four months I will be known as Mrs. Phipps and I couldn't be happier. Wish me luck everyone. I am really going to need it.

Back to School

It's back to school for Jaimie, and we've moved. Just thought I'd write something since it's been a long time.

Friday, March 2, 2012


President Uchtdorf came to visit Buenos Aires when I was about 19 months out. My parents' divorce had just erupted in all its gore. Shattered images of what my life had been and would be were seconded only by my deep concern for my little brothers and other siblings that didn't have the luxury of 6,000 miles separating them from insanity. In spite of this blessing of distance, I could not help but feel the weight of the sacrifice I was making to remain on my mission. My family needed me, or at least I like to think so.

Though we were all moved and thrilled to listen to President Uchtdorf, I regret that the only thing I remember him saying was that when we were off our missions, we could sleep in as much as we'd like on Saturdays. Odd. But then, just before the closing prayer, he in great sincerity and earnestness offered a blessing. In it he said that we would receive miracles beyond imagining because of the sacrifices we had made to be there.

Miracles? I had always loved miracles. What do miracles even look like? Some say life is a miracle, or that the sunrise is a miracle. Others would say great bolts of lightening or visitations from angels or spirits are requisite for miracles. Me? I fall in between I suppose. As much as I love the sunrise every day, and as much as I admire the beauty of life, certainly a miracle to me is something beyond what I could imagine as possible. It has to go beyond, I suppose, what I am able to either comprehend, explain, or expect. I don't know; I'm not trying to get technical.

Life after my mission was complicated, or depressing, or just foggy. Something like that. I spent the first year after my mission trying hard to re-evaluate what I had taken for granted. There are some, I'm sure, who understand how this goes. There are lots of questions. There is a lot of anger. There is constant confusion. More than anything , there's a listlessness or purposelessness that I would never have thought possible in my own life.

So where, I wondered, was the miracle I was promised? It had been a year since I'd come home and I'd seen only failed dates, a continuously hurting family, and slipping grades.

Why is it we think miracles occur instantly? The parting of the seas, the taming of the lions, the incredible resistance to fire. It's as though miracles are only shows of divine power and not greater, deeper divine blessings. Well, unfortunately, I didn't see great pillars of light or hear angels singing when I met Jaimie. No. The first time I met her she wouldn't even talk to me (supposedly because she had just eaten an onion and was embarrassed about her breath). The next time I really met her, still no choirs singing.

In fact, my time with Jaimie was entirely different. It was, oddly, completely non-sensational. It was always like going back to a home I'd never had. It was as though she had always been in my life, but had gone missing for the past 22 years.

Now guys, I'm not trying to be mushy or lame or anything. I'm serious. I'm dead serious. My life right now is something I honestly didn't ever expect or think possible. Now I know lots of men who love their wives. That's not what I'm getting at. I know lots of men who would say their wives are miracles, or that they don't deserve their wives. But I'm not saying that in a poetic way. I'm saying it literally. I have proof positive that miracles are real, and that the promises of an apostle really come true.

Why am I even talking about this? For those that know me, I'm usually fairly shy and certainly wouldn't write something like this on a blog for the whole damn world to read. So here's the punchline.

Jaimie recently wrote something on this blog about her frustration over deciding what she's going to do about a potential internship this coming year. I later took the post down (with Jaimie's permission) for a couple of reasons, only one of which is important.

Jaimie is my miracle; she is the life I never thought possible and the home I'll always want to return to. I have siblings that I love and care about, and they love me in return. I have friends that have been more like brothers than anything; the best friends anybody could have in the world. But Jaimie is home. She is everything that makes sense in my world, and she is everything that makes my world sensible. So for her to even think that she hasn't accomplished anything, or that she doesn't fulfill her goals, is hurtful. She saved my life in a very literal way; she took me from bleak prospects and misguided anger to a cozy paradise home of our own.

I would recommend you remember this moment only because it'll be perhaps the most embarrassing one of my life. Exposing the most important things in our lives is always embarrassing, if only because it makes us vulnerable. On the other hand, sometimes things are so important to us that we can't keep them to ourselves. Maybe I just wish the world could, if only for an instant, see Jaimie through my eyes. What's more, maybe I just wish she could.

Online communities and the problems they cause

Hey all, It's been a busy day but I had a few minutes of down time (finally). Unlike what everybody thinks, we here at the Governor's Office actually do work. It's ok, I wouldn't have believed it either, so don't feel bad if you still don't.

I noticed something that has hitherto remained unnoticed. Jaimie, being the sweet social butterfly that she is (?) does seem to spend much more time on Facebook and other such online interests than I do. That I had noticed. I didn't know, however, how often she mentions me (usually in a forgivingly favorable light). This seems unfair, since I'm hardly ever participating in such activities, and therefore rarely talk about Jaimie in our growing online community.

Sigh. She does deserve more online attention. So I just thought I'd write a quick little shoutout for my lovely wonderful sweet nurturing and talented wife (should there have been commas there?) Most that know me, however, know that I'm not going to say much more, even though she is worthy of an incalculable amount of praise.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Horses or Teaching

*** DISCLAIMER: This message is not approved by me (Aaron), simply because I don't think it accurately portrays the determination, talent, and fortitude that Jaimie actually has. That said, she posted it before I could censor, so most of you have read it in your RSS feeds anyway. Regardless, I just need to say that Jaimie has finished many difficult and important challenges in her life. She has consistently been on the Principle's list, she was asked to be an Honor student, she has been invited to several honor societies, she was accepted to this internship she is stressing about, she'll graduate college soon, she learned to sing very well even though few encouraged her to, she's an accomplished rider (and anybody who disagrees should talk to me about it), she's completely changed my life and made me happier than I ever thought possible, and for her to sit and act as though she hasn't followed through on anything or accomplished anything is both false and a horrible misconception about her own value that seems to come from who-knows where. "... but some how I am the girl that takes the easy way out, gets scared and just quits. I feel like every goal I have ever tried to meet has come and gone." Maybe that's just Jaimie being dramatic, but unfortunately she feels that way. I suppose we all do at some point, but we also all need somebody to stand in our own defense against ourselves. So that's what I'm doing. Jaimie is not a quitter; she's not just a sweet little girl. She's an accomplished woman and a power to be reckoned with (trust me), and I will adamantly defend that reputation.***

Today I have been faced with what has seemed like a huge life choice do I try for a once in a life time internship teaching my very own classroom one year early or do I spend my summer days at the ranch doing nothing but riding my horse. This morning as I was at the ranch with my dad and brother I realized that I not only wish I was more diligent at getting to the ranch but I wished that it was all I did. I love the time I spend at the ranch. I am able forget about everything that has made me upset that week and everything that will stress me out later that day. I have lived my life wanting to be a certain person but never really reaching that goal. I want to be that girl that like to be outside in the mud with the animals doing whatever it takes to get the job done but some how I am the girl that takes the easy way out, gets scared and just quits. I feel like every goal I have ever tried to meet has come and gone. I wish I knew what my future brings when it comes to horses. Will we maybe one day be able to afford them or will I just have the opportunity to ride them when I visit my parents on occasion? To some this may be an easy problem to solve. Take the internship right? It is a once in a life time opportunity. I will finish all my classes in the upcoming summer and then I will become a first  year teacher instead of student teaching. I will be paid little but I will be in charge of my own classroom. Isn't this why I am going to school? I am getting a degree to teach. We all have childhood passions and hobbies and I have loved competing but doesn't there have to come a point in every one's life when we have to give the childhood passions up and pursue knew passions and hobbies.
I have come to realize that one reason I am struggling with the idea of the internship is that I think I am giving up on myself. I have tied horses into my identity so much that I haven't lived up to my own expectations of myself. I wanted to be that girl that won them all. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was tough and that I could do anything I put my mind to. In reality though I feel as though I have let myself down and everyone else around me. while talking to Aaron about this today he told me that I am the girl I wanted to be, but today as I was riding I gave up yet again. I have become so discouraged that I am unable to do some of the simplest maneuvers that use to come so easily to me. Because of school I have had less time to devote to my horses. There was once a time when I would make it to the ranch almost every day. Now once a week has become almost impossible. I started riding over ten years ago and feels like the first day all over again. And then the internship I look at that terrified out of my mind but excited. I know I am scared and when I get scared I will do anything possible to avoid whatever I am scared of. I am struggling with. in my opinion, a huge decision. this will be my last summer in Utah before we move to where ever Aaron's Grad school take us and I just don't know what I should do. I am scared that I will be unhappy no matter what decision I make because no matter what I do I will be giving up a great opportunity.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I'm a contributor too

I was changing some settings in Google and noticed that I'm a contributor to this blog as well. Imagine that. So I thought I'd assert my blogginess here to keep our blog going in some continuous fashion (this is heavily inspired by the fact that our friends, the Barnes, arealways updating their blog, and it's so good that even my sister follows it... *sigh*).

This last weekend was Laura's Senior Recital. The whole event has made me rather reflective (much, I'm sure, to Jaimie's annoyance). The bottom line of my reflection: a big family is both a massive blessing and at the same time full of heartache. Who among you have an instant 9 friends to call up and talk to, 9 people to visit and invite to your house for a good time, 9 people to blame for your childhood woes, and 9 people to blame for the best times of your life? (Not to mention their spouses/significant others and kids).

But that's 9 people you forget to call every week, 9 people whose birthdays you do little more for than send the (often late) card, that's 9 more people's feelings you have to worry about when making Christmas plans, and 9 more ways for your family to get mad.

Being the 6th child, I have had the odd position of being actively involved in the lives of all my siblings. I've watched Jessica go from my super-(second)-mom to her two kids' (first) super-mom. I learned the great ninja ways of mountain lion traps and eucalyptus leaf teas from Jason. I don't know how many 3D puzzles I helped Don with or how many nights he kept me awake kicking my bed from his bunk below. Sarah and I were the (obnoxious) shrimp duo. Barbara and I were bitter enemies until high school, when she was the best older sister known to humankind. Laura and I searched the car seat-cushions for enough money to buy Taco Bell after our weekly piano lessons. Ammon went from annoying to tender. John changed from moody to helpful. Dallon's just Dallon and that's great. He's probably a little too much like me.

Watching Laura deal with the enormous stress that culminated before her recital was such an eye opener. I realized how little I could help, and how little I was there for her when things were hardest. I suppose every older brother one day wishes he'd done more. I think about Jason and how often he was there to give me advice, and yet how little advice I can give him now. Who was Jessica's second mother? I never taught Dallon how to catch mountain lions. I don't include Don in my 3D puzzles. And nobody was looking out for Barbara in high school.

But then it's not all bad. Sometimes we're lucky and have the opportunity to give back. The night before the recital, Laura was so stressed she began to cry. I didn't know what else to do but give her a hug and let her stain my nice white shirt with mascara. I don't think it did all that much for Laura, but at least I got to tell her what we all need to hear sometimes: you're doing a great job, and you'll keep doing it.

I've reached the end of my reflective-ness with nothing to conclude. I guess it's where I started: big family = big blessing = heartache. That's 9 people who, without explanation, provide a full and rich life. It's 9 people I worry about. It's 9 people I see make good and bad choices, and 9 people to watch me make mine. But I suppose, most importantly, it's 9 people I wish I could tell (without feeling embarrassed or cheesy) how well they really are doing in life, how proud I am of them (if that matters), and how much I look up to them.

But then again, that would be 9 more phone calls I don't know I'll ever make.