Tonight at Young Life, we had our 2nd annual Pizza Olympics. I am sure that most of you are very familiar with a Pizza Olympics but just in case you are not, here's how it goes:
At the beginning of our Young Life program (club) three students call three different pizza companies and order pepperoni pizzas. Then we sing songs and do our thing until the first pizza arrives. At that point, we drop everything. We turn on loud Olympic music and welcome the pizza man with out of control screaming and cheering. The first pizza man is awarded the gold medal and the second two are given the silver and bronze, respectively.
Last year there was some sort of miscommunication and only one delivery guy arrived. This year was much better with all three guys arriving with enough time between each to give them a proper celebration.
The first guy tonight was named Sam and looked to be from some other country. He was very confused by all the cheering and shouting and music. When my friend, Andres asked him how he was able to win the gold medal in the pizza olympics, he attributed it to respecting his parents. I am not sure about that correlation but a good lesson for the kiddos, nonetheless.
The second guy was a fairly young, built black guy named Josh. He seemed even more confused than the first guy. I was afraid he was going to run away. He said he was going to work more in order to get the gold next time. Apparently afterwards, he told another leader, Christie that even though he looked scared, he had a lot of fun and wanted to see the pictures we took later.
The bronze medal winner was an old white guy. He, too seemed confused by the whole production. I think he was a bit disappointed to come in last.
After the three pizzas arrived, we had a pizza eating contest. I thought our boys would be able to put away more pizza than they did. They would be no match for that little Japanese dude who wins all those professional eating competitions- Kobayashi or something. Anyway, after club we had pizza for all the kids. It really wouldn't have been too fair to make the kids smell the pizza and then deny them the pleasure of eating it.
All in all, with over 40 kids and a pizza olympics, I pronounce our first club of 2009, a great success. I am glad to get back in the swing of things.
Today was the last day of the dreaded Stanford test. This is a test that my whole school district takes every January. It covers all the subjects and all the grade levels. It's supposed to calculate at which grade level a student is performing. It also compares their new score to their score from the past to see how much they've grown. Students' growth is how the district determines the teacher bonuses. The system is not entirely fair since the test is given in January and I have only had my current students for 4 and a half months. So, it really measures half of what I did with them so far this year with half of what their previous teacher taught them. It doesn't really seem fair to base our bonuses on only half a year's work. Oh well, I will certainly take whatever money they give me.
Testing week is super boring for the teachers. We have to walk around and make sure kids aren't cheating or sleeping. I used to look at what answers the students put but I got extremely frustrated by the dumb answers they put, so I had to stop. The best thing about Stanford testing week is that there are no after-school tutorials. Life just seems so much better and more productive when I get home at 4:00 instead of 5:30. Yesterday, I managed to take a nap, write emails, go to the gym, take a shower, watch The Bachelor, do a Chinese lesson on Rosetta Stone and have a little God time. Not too shabby! If only I could be that productive everyday...
I am trying to take advantage of this extra time I have before my 2-night a week Young Life commitment starts up full swing next week. February will be a bit crazy. The Reading TAKS test (the one I am responsible for) is March 3rd and the kids and I will be forced (against our will) to live and breathe that test until it happens. I am not looking forward to it but I know I can handle it. It's only a month, right?
Saturday was my birthday. It started off really great! My dad had made some really strange comments regarding my birthday. About a month before, he told me to make sure I reserved Saturday for a family celebration. This seemed strange. I kind of forgot about it and decided to have a little slumber party that night. My dad said we could do the family celebration on Friday instead. My family goes out to eat together about once a week so I figured we had to do more. My guess was that we would go to a comedy club or something. My mom told me to wear something nice because we would be going to a nice restaurant. This is why I was very surprised when my mom called on Friday about an hour before I was going to be picked up, to ask where I wanted to eat. I thought the whole point was for them to surprise me with a fancy place. I was pretty confused. Then my mom drove me to the restaurant. My dad was going to meet us there and called about every five minutes. I knew something was up but I wasn't sure what.
When I walked into the restaurant, my dad was sitting alone at a table with an odd expression on his face. I sat down at the table and he told me to turn around and tell the waitress what I wanted. I turned around and there was Amy, my best friend from YWAM! I was speechless, which doesn't happen very often. I just couldn't wrap my head around the idea that Amy had come all the way from Canada and was indeed standing before me. I don't think it really felt real until dinner was over.
What a huge blessing to start off my birthday! I had actually hoped that one of my friends from out of town would come surprise me since I had a 3 day weekend but I never guessed Amy would come down from Calgary! What a great friend! A lot went on this weekend and I will continue it in my next post.
This weekend I went on a date to go see this ice sculpture competition in Houston's newest downtown park, Discovery Green. Weird events are always good ideas for dates as there are plenty of things to talk about. Apparently ice sculpting is a sub-culture that I did not know existed. I muswt admit that most of my ice sculpture experience is limited to cruises. I have a feeling that these guys look down on the cruise sculptors. It seemed like most of the spectators were regular folk like us. There were a few groupie-ish angst-ridden teens. Some of them were wearing chainsaw t-shirts. Yay!
The sculptors themselves looked a bit like carnies, though some had stage names or personas. They gave the winner a trophy that looked like some sort of old bowling trophy that they covered in glitter and mardi gras beads. Talk about classy! After 8 hours of back-breaking ice sculpting, the winner got a trashy trophy. Well, and a $2000 check. The winning sculpture was called "Marlin and Me" and featured a large marlin being ridden by a cowboy. I liked the punny title.
After the winner was announced, they brought out Reverend Butter. Apparently he is a wannabe rockstar ice sculptor. There was a heavy metal-esque band on stage playing behind him as he... uh... performed. I felt bad for one of the guitar players who was one of those guy/girl rocker types with the coiffed hair and tight jeans. The guy was down wind of the sculpting and was basically getting soaked. I was freezing in my sweater and coat and this poor guy is being spritzed with ice water in a rocker t-shirt.
Reverend Butter took his art form seriously. His moves seemed choreographed to the band's set as if they had practiced in advance. He kept doing extreme pelvic thrusts at the block of ice with his chainsaw. I must say I had never seen that before. It was really cold but we wanted to see what Reverend Butter was making. In the end, we left before he was finished but we could tell he was making some sort of giant wings. So, I highly recommend that everyone witness Reverend Butter's magic sometime in your life. You'll never look at ice sculptures the same way.
It makes sense to make my first blog of the new year about New Year's resolutions. I don't tend to get very formal with my resolutions but I do like the idea of being able to say I have been doing something all year when it is January 7th and I have been doing it for 7 days. My strictest resolution this year is to read the entire Bible in a year. I have done this twice before and I always gain new insight as I read. If I don't have a concrete plan like this, my daily Bible reading often turns into a weekly Bible reading instead. This makes me more disciplined.
So far, it has been interesting. The day after I started, my dad brought up a theological subject that I had read about only the night before. Pretty cool. It felt like it was God reminding me that I am doing this for a reason and it will impact my daily life. I am also reading a book called "The Year of Living Biblically." It's an intriguing book about a nonreligious guy who decides to try to follow all of the Bible's commands, including the obscure and strange ones. Many of the passages he has written about, I have already read in my daily Bible reading.
My other resolutions are the usual "eating better" and "working out more" that we all vow to do at the beginning of each year. I've done pretty well on the working out so far; joining the resolution resurgence at my gym. I am also trying to use my Wii Fit (X-Mas gift) to gauge my progress. My parents were so into my wii fit that they are going to buy one themselves when they are in stock again. The eating better part is coming along pretty well mostly thanks to Lean Cuisine. It has only been a week in 2009 so far so I will have to see where I am at in a month.