Friday, December 16, 2011

Mason and how he's been doing...

Acting like a smart alec is pretty much a regular thing with Mason these days. He goes from contrite meek young man to know-it-all punk kid at the drop of a least he looks good as a smartie pants! In all truth, Mason is carrying a very challenging class load this year: AP History, which he loves and usually excels in, Honors English which is another winner, Honors Chemistry which is a huge challenge for him and Pre Calculus which also tests his academic limits pretty regularly. Spanish comes o.k. for Mason, and Seminary, Graphics, and concert choir make school not all work, but some play...he is so academically capable that we expect great things when the report card shows up, but we know he has to work really hard to pull himself up to the academic heights we expect him to reach!

Mason was in the school play again this year, the High School did "Annie Jr.". He was in most every scene and had a blast once practices ended and the performances began. Most alarming to us was the life-like portrayal of the town drunk he so perfectly pulled off. Looked a little too perfect to me...

The dating scene has gotten lots more fun for Mason now that he can get asked to dances by girls. What guy would go out and find girls to date if he knew they'd come flocking to him around each and every holiday? We've been hard pressed to get this guy to ask out since his one date per month quota is easily reached with girls choice dances smattering Halloween and Christmas!
We are, don't get me wrong, glad he is a polite enough boy to be asked by such nice girls. He has had fun on his dates and we hope to see them increase a bit through out the rest of the school year. And not just for dances either :)

I just had to show you the fluffy cotton candy hair do Mason was sporting through fall semester. He was lovin' his curls, man! In October, for the Halloween dance where he was asked to dress up like an indian, he thought he'd get himself a mohawk. That, unfortunately, looked a LOT more like a mullet, so we were so happy when he finally chopped the rest, and we could see how handsome that guy is underneath all the fuzz that had accumulated on top of his head :)

no, I'm not his HOmecoming date, but I did choose his tie! Mason is becoming a handsome kid. We were so proud of him this summer and into the fall as he was working out every day to get himself ready to play rugby again this year. That has tapered a little bit, but he will be back at it soon, and we are proud of the way Mason is trying to take care of his mind, his body and his spirit.

I receive kind words about Mason pretty much on a daily basis. 'He is so articulate'. 'He is such a good kid'. 'He has a testimony of what he believes in'. 'He is creative'. 'He is fun'. 'He is friendly'. I know these things are all true. And that Mason is developing a character within him that will allow him to look himself in the eye and be proud of what he sees.

a few weeks ago I got a text message from 'our Jenna' a dear family friend who is in college up in Idaho. She wanted to forward me the nightly text messages that Mason has been sending all of his contacts. These messages are SO MASON. They are encouraging his friends to make good choices. They are promoting good ideas. They are telling nice stories. Some of them are LONG and some of them are CHEESY. But they are good words, and sent out of a desire to bring others to a good place. This is the kind of kid Mason is. A little unique, very very sincere, and very intent on showing the world that he will make this a better place for being here.

I love you so much Mason!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lessons Learned this Semester...

At the end of last year, with Lucy headed off to Kindergarten in the Fall, I sought out a chance to be involved at our Jr. High School. I hadn't before that time known the faculty, the administration or many of the parents whose children are friends to mine.

And I had a secret motive, I wanted to see what it would be like, for our family, for me to be 'out of the house' a bit more. John and I dream about sending me back to school for a Masters Degree (a HUGE dream of mine) and I wanted to test the waters to see if the family functioned well when I am occupied with other things to think about, other places to be, other good causes to fight for.

This volunteer assignment ballooned into a very busy frenetic fall semester project. The objective was to help a student committee feel empowered to give local community service in a way that they choose, and to mentor and support them as they reached out and learned how to give of themselves and make a difference.

These kids wanted to make a difference in a very big way.

Seeing the financial needs present at the Christmas Box House, the kids decided they wanted to raise cold hard cash and give it to this worthy, local organization. Their brainstorming produced a cool-if larger than life-idea to create a t-shirt that would be approved by the school administration to be 'in dress code' and then sell that shirt to their fellow students; giving the profit to CBH.

Enter Bob Pedersen, founder of Del Sol Company and generous philanthropist. he heard about the kids' idea. He invited them to 'pitch it to him' and then, after they told him what they had in mind, he donated all the shirts. And the ink that would be used to print them.

The dream (and the project) got bigger. Instead of taking orders for t-shirts in advance, the kids were asked by Mr. Pedersen to set a high goal and then reach to achieve it. The kids produced a design-and pitched that design to the principal, who approved it with a smile. 600 shirts of various jr. high sizes were printed with colors that change when the shirt is taken out into the sun.

the school mascot shows off the t-shirt at a boy's basketball game...

Posters were made, kids came early, they stayed late. They made schedules so they'd know when they were to sell shirts during their lunch time. We organized moms to mentor the kids and basically be the 'adult' so they could continue in their work. We gave suggestions, and we did some behind the scenes things that other adults don't believe kids are ready to do for themselves (like ask the founder of the Christmas Box House to present an assembly to the school. When you are a famous author like Richard Paul Evans, it isn't very often that you take phone calls from 8th graders).

Time on the computer writing articles, coordinating volunteer schedules and bouncing ideas off of others took place of blogging, dish doing and laundry folding for me. It was an intensive course in Jr. High politics, mentoring, and in community volunteerism. It was emmersive and engaging. And at times a bit exhausting not to mention daunting...

At times it felt like we were swimming in T-shirts, and it was hard to see how we would help the kids reach their goal. The project lagged on, and then finally gained momentum. Student body officers became engaged in the cause, parents sent money with their student so the goals could be reached and their kid could take part. Mr. Evans agreed to come speak. The district newsletter picked up our project and secretaries and principals from other schools sent donations through the district mail, then t-shirts were sent back to them. The neighborhood Top-It (frozen yogurt shop) sold shirts for us, and their employees wore them to work to show support. The local Great Harvest Bread store had their staff wear shirts as well. Shirts started disappearing. The dream began coming true.

The last week of our donation drive Richard Paul Evans presented an assembly where the students explained what they'd been doing and why, and handed him a check for nearly $4000.00. Much of the student body came to the assembly wearing their shirts, the audience was a sea of grey bulldog pride. My heart was swollen with gratitude. I felt so happy for the kids/the committee who had begun this dream to see it realized so concretely. Mr. Evans made a great presentation, promising the kids that their efforts would be used to serve others right in their own neighborhoods. 'Some of the kids at this very school have used the Christmas Box House. Your donations are helping your own. You have truly made a difference.'

you know me, I had to find a way to 'style' my t, pearls and a black sweater were perfect with bulldog blue gingham underneath!

We are still cleaning up a bit after the whirlwind of the term we have had around here. A few extra shirts will be delivered to children down at the Christmas Box House. The students who dreamed big will enjoy the ultimate closure of this project when they go with me to see the kids whose lives will be made better for their project. Next week we will deliver the real money, and some much needed school supplies purchased with it, to the children who are staying at CBH for the holiday.

I've learned a lot this semester. I don't think the family is ready for me to be a full time student. Too many rolled eyes when I pled 'Christmas Box House' as my reason for not having dinner on time, not cleaning the jeans in time for school the next morning or not coming to bed before midnight. But I have still received a great education. The Jr. High principal knows me by name, and I've interacted with many of the teachers and staff at this terrific school our kids get to attend. I've worked with an amazing partner, Andrea Ferguson, on this project, whose mentor-ship in service has been a gifted education all its own. I've felt supported by heaven, cheered on by my husband, and even appreciated by my daughter at times (Bryn was the chair of this project, she designed the shirt, pitched the idea to Mr. Pedersen and Principal Harris and presented the money to Mr. Evans-with the help of the whole committee of course!).

Its been busy and the learning curve has been very steep. But I'm thankful to have had the experience, and to have enjoyed the education of this semester.