Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Shout Out to Vivint and Beyblade

I've probably mentioned this before but the school I teach at in is a very low income area of the valley.  The security company Vivint does sub for Santa for every student in our school.  They spend between $50-75 per student- on EVERY student.  And they do this for about 5 schools across the valley.  From what i hear they encourage their employees to donate and then they match all the donations.  It is quite amazing what this company does.  When I experienced this last year- my first year teaching at this school- I bawled like a baby watching my little kindergarteners sit there wide-eyed as presents were given to them.  Unfortunately some of the kids get a little calloused as they get older and get this every year.  They can start getting picky and entitled saying things like,"This isn't the xbox game I wanted."  But we have some awesome older grade teachers who will just pluck it out of their hands and say, "Well then you don't have to have it."  But luckily I work with the kids who have no idea what is coming so their reaction is pretty genuine. All their presents come in a big red or green garbage-like bags that are decorated with things like snowflakes or Santa.  Then inside the bag all the presents are wrapped.  The employee who buys all the stuff for the student gets to sit in front of the child they buy for and watch them open their presents and make sure it is what they wanted or that it fits.  They work really hard to make sure it all works- I even had some of the volunteers take back clothing that didn't fit and then bring it back a few days later in the right size.  Then after all the presents are put back in the big bag and the kids get to take it back to class.  It is so fun to watch my kinders try to carry their present-laden bags that are as big as them back to class.  They look like little Santa Clauses struggling with their sacks.
How it works is in November we are given half sheets of paper that we have to fill out for each of the students that give info to Vivint- things like their name, gender, favorite color, shoe size, pant size, etc and a space for one need- like gloves or a coat or snowpants and a space for one want- like a toy.  Last year I was filling these out for my students and when I asked one kid what he wanted for Christmas, he told me "cheesesticks." I don't think this was because he had a lack of food in his house.  I think it was because of a language and cognitive barrier and I don't think he completely understood what I was asking him- which was a running theme for him the whole year!  Anyway when I then changed my question to "What kind of toy would you like?" he was able to tell me a more appropriate answer.  But then on the day of Vivint's visit I told one of the volunteers this story because I thought it was so funny and cute.  After we went back to our class, she went to the store and bought this student a bunch of cheesesticks and cookies for the rest of the class.  It really is amazing to see their giving spirit and desire to fulfill their kids wishes.
This year I had another "lost in translation" experience when I was asking another student what he wanted for Christmas.  This student is also still learning English and has a heavy Spanish accent.  When I asked him what kind of toy he wanted for Christmas he said, "Bayblay".  I had him repeat what he said like 5 times and I honestly had no idea what he was saying and it sounded like nonsense to me.  I then had my aide come over and had him tell her what he wanted.  She had no clue either.  So then I thought maybe another student who speaks Spanish could understand him better.  But after he told another Spanish speaking student "Bayblay", that boy just shrugged his shoulders when I asked what he said.  So I then asked the boy what kind of toy it was so I could maybe just describe it on the paper with the hopes that whoever got his paper would somehow divine what it was.  So this is what I wrote on the paper- "Bayblay? He says it is a toy the spins with a cord."  Now if I had a 5 or 6 year old boy I probably would have known right away what he was asking for but I didn't.  But luckily whoever got his paper must have because when I was having the kids each show their favorite toy this kid proudly held up his "Beyblade."  In my mind I thought, "Oh!  That is what a 'Bayblay' is.  That kid knew exactly what he was talking about.  I was the clueless one in this situation!"
One more shout-out to Vivint.  This year along with doing sub for Santa for all the students, Vivint wanted to give each classroom teacher a $300-400 gift for their classroom.  Our principal recommend that if we wanted an IPAD for our classrooms, this would be a good time to get one.  So I got an IPAD for our classroom c/o Vivint.  So long story short- if you are looking for a good home or business security company my recommendation without a doubt is Vivint!

The Adventures of Buddy the Elf.

Our Elf on the Shelf aka- Buddy- has had quite the holiday season answering questions posed by Katie and Suzie.  It got a bit crazy when Buddy had to answer 10 questions in one night.  He left a note that night asking that they ask one question per person per day since it was hard to answer that many questions and still get to and from the North Pole in one night.(Plus you can imagine trying to hold and write with a pencil that is as big as you!)  But since our Elf on a Shelf days may be limited I wanted to record the questions and answers that have been flying back and forth between Buddy and the girls this holiday season.
Katie &Suzie's Questions
Buddy's Answers
What is your favorite sport?
Snowball Fights
Do you know an Elfis Presley?
The real Elvis Presley, because he became an elf, or Sailor's Elf (Katie has a friend named Sailor Presley & the elf had a hunch that Elfis Presley was the name of her family's elf.)
Sailor's Elf. P.S.- How old are you?
I'll tell Elfis the connection. I'm 493 years old.
When is your birthday?
It's a secret!
What is your favorite food?
Candy Canes (Buddy got a candy cane left at his feet the night after he gave this answer!)
What is your favorite sports team?
The Ice Angels- They play baseball up at the North Pole.. P.S.-Thanks for the candy cane! Yummy!
Did you go to elementary school and if so what is it called?
I went to Elfementary school a long time ago.
Do you know an elf named Crinkle?
I know a few Crinkles. Is it the Crinkle of Cincinnati of the Crinkle of Murray.
The Crinkle of Murray and he belongs to Ava Murray and her family.
Oh yeah! Sometimes Crinkle of the Murrays &I get together to have a hot toddy.
How many siblings do you have?
What is your favorite color?
green & red
I was wondering if could tell Santa to leave a present for the bunnies?
Sure. What would they like?
Apples & carrots would be fine.
Who is your BFF and who is his/her owner?
Spandexter and his owners are the Idiarts in Alaska
What kind of cookies and drink does Santa like?
He calls it "The usual"- sugar cookies and milk
Is our family the first one you've been to?
What is your favorite move?
Besides the obvious "Elf"- "Miracle on 34th Street"
Are these the elf food groups- candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup?
How did you know?!?
The following question is from Katie- who lost a tooth about 3 weeks prior and had patiently left her tooth under her pillow anticipating the tooth fairy and the finanical windfall that visit provides.  It stood to reason in her mind that Buddy and the tooth fairy would possibly know each other so she took her complaint about the tooth fairy's negligence to someone who could possibly do something about it.
Do you know the tooth fairy?  If so could you tell her I have a tooth she needs to pick up and I would really love it if she would take it.  Thanks.
I'll see what I can do!  In the tooth Fairy's defense, I think December is a very busy month because of all the candy kids eat this time of year.
(The tooth fairy did make it after Buddy reminded her of the tooth's presence,  She had completely forgotten about it!)
This next question was written to Buddy on the last night before Buddy went back to Santa for good- the 23rd of December.  It shows the innocence of the Elf believers tand it part of the reason why I wanted to document all these Elf questions because it won't be very long before I don't have any believers and that makes me very sad!
Could you tell Santa the bunnies need a drop feeder?
I'll let him know!  See you next Christmas!  Thanks for letting me be your elf!  Be nice to each other!  Love you!
Here are some of the fun places our Elf landed during the Christmas season.

Being part of the nativity

In the holiday wreath

Enjoying a candy cane and story from Santa

Taking a bath after a particularly long day

About 3/4th way through the Christmas season Buddy discovered Barbie and they had a whirlwind romance with him proposing after a short time that even beat Eric & I's four week record from first date to engagement!  I think their courtship was 24 hours.

Here they are enjoying their engagment of 24 hours

Here is their wedding ceremony-notice the Barbie guests, the wedding cake and Buddy's wedding pants & shoes!  How Buddy ever had time to do his Elf duties along with his courtship, engagement, wedding and Honeymoon is beyond me!  He must have had a fabulous wedding planner and since he is an elf and only needs a full forty minutes of sleep each night, somehow he got it all done! 

Off on their honeymoon!

They honeymooned in an exotic location- Finn's stocking!
We forgot to take a picture of the next day but Buddy was sitting on the couch in the dollhouse watching TV with Barbie behind him ironing his wedding pants.  Man, that was a short honeymoon!  Suzie made the observation, "Buddy and Barbie are just like you and Dad with Dad watching TV and you doing all the work."  Out of the mouth of babes...

This was Buddy's last message to us on Christmas Eve before he went back to the North Pole.  He took Barbie with him and we will be interested to see if Barbie comes back next year with a honeymoon baby... We'll see!

And here are our best elf faces from the most ardent elf supporters in our house!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Necessary Farts

Today when I "woke" my computer up after it had gone into "sleep" mode I saw a document that had been opened-I'm assuming by one of my kids because they were all working on the computer last night.  When I opened the document this is what I read
"Necessary farts are only necessary if you are forced to fart.  I love to fart."
Well if that doesn't sound like the beginning of an incredibly interesting essay- I don't know what does!  Now I just need to figure out who is thinking so deeply about farting.  My guess is Finn but Eric's guess is Katie.  I haven't asked anyone yet so we'll see who's right!  Any other guesses out there...?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How could I NOT post this...

This past Saturday Eric and I were working feverishly to get all our summer vegetation pulled up before it turned cold.  Suzie was outside "helping" when she decided she wanted to make a rainbow with the hose.  Never one to squelch any scientific curiousity I told she could as long as she pointed the hose away from where I was working.  She just couldn't control herself and kept pointing the hose right where I was weeding.  After many warnings she got sent to her room until she learned to listen.  After about 20 minutes I went and checked on her and discussed how she needed to listen the first time and then let her out her room.  Yesterday she showed me this note she had written in her diary while being squestered in her room:

In case you can't tell, this is the translation:
I cannot fix my problem.
I cannot behave.
I'm stuck in my room.
I cannot get out.
When I showed it to Eric he said, "Well at least she is expressing her feelings." :)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

So much to blog about, so little time...

Starting back to school for both me and my kids is kicking my butt!  I've already gotten my obligatory migraine whenever I start something stressful out of the way but I am still trying to drink from that fall fire hydrant.  Also- man,  I forget how expensive August is with back to school shopping, registering for school, refilling lunch accounts, school pictures, PTA memberships, starting to pay for piano, dance, football, etc. August is the new December in terms of expense!
There are so many things I want to blog about- the kids going back to school, Finn playing football, Katie and I doing a family triatholon on Labor day, teaching my neighbors how to speak Southern red-neck- I will have to post about that one, teaching children who speak 7 different languages- yes! SEVEN different languages are spoken in my kindergarten classroom.  They are english, spanish, turkish, burmese, arabic, albanian and farsi.  Luckily most of them can communicate fairly well except the girl who speaks burmese.  She is the cutest little thing and any english she knows she has picked up from watching cartoons- at least that is what a translator told me.  Her favorite thing to say is "Yep!".  One the first day I took the kids on a tour of the school, which included a trip to the bathroom.  I was in the girls' bathroom while the male school counselor was in the boys.  After explaining how we behave in the bathroom- remember I teach kindergarten to a population where about half of the kids have never even been to school so I have to explicitly teach every school behavior- I asked the girls if they needed to go to the bathroom.  Most of them said yes and went into a stall.  My little burmese girl just stared at me.  I looked at her and asked again if she needed to go to the bathroom.  She smiled and said, "Yep!" and just kept staring at me without making a move.  Its going to be a long year!
But I got side tracked- I wasn't planning on writing about my class.  What I wanted to write about was a camping trip our family took about a month ago with our friends, the Murrays.  We went up to Tanner Flats- which is only about 20 minutes away.  We had a great time playing,
riding bikes,

eating yummy food,

glowstick dancing by the camp fire

and we even got to watch the Tour of Utah bike race as it came up Little Cottonwood Canyon.

But I have to say the most entertaining part of the camping trip was Suzie and her one liners.  She said some of the funniest things in relation to our trip. 
We had packed our car to the gills with all our camping stuff.  Eric remarked that is was like "The Grapes of Wrath."  Neither I or the Murrays caught that literary reference but everyone nodded along until I called him out on it.  In fact if you can figure it out what having a packed car has to do with "The Grapes of Wrath", I'll make you a treat!
Anyway the kids had stuff in their laps, on top of their heads and under their feet.  We figured since we were only going 20 minutes up the road, they would be okay.  After about 5 minutes Suzie remarked, "Now I know what my toys feel like in my toy box!"
Our campsite was next to a beautiful waterfall. 

It was fun to watch and I personally thought was relaxing to listen to as we were going to sleep.  But Suzie didn't think so because after laying in bed for about 20 minutes on the first night said, "Can someone turn the waterfall off?"
During the day we went on a hike and every time Suzie bent over to look at something or pick something up you could see her underwear.

 I kept telling her to pull up her pants up so we couldn't see her underwear.  She said, "It's okay mom.  They're know... for nature."
And her best observation of the weekend came at the end.  We came home and found a very foul smell in our house.  We were sniffing around- in the trash, in the fridge, in the sink, etc. to see what might be causing such a awful stench.  After a few minutes Suzie lifted her arm and smelled her armpits and said, "I think it might be me.  I smell bad."
Oh Suz... you keep us smiling!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Quotes to remember

I just finished a fantastic book and wanted to jot down a quote & poem from the book so I can have it for later.  The book is "The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom and how I have lived for almost 39 years and not read this book- I just don't understand!  It seems like it should be a must read for life type of book.  Though there are several noteworthy quotes- here are two from what I read today that I want to have.
"It is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His.  When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself."
- Corrie ten Boom

"My Life is Like a Weaving"
My life is like a weaving
between my God and me.
I do not choose the colors
he works steadily.
Sometimes he weaves sorrow
and I in foolish pride
forget  he sees the upper
and I the underside.
Not till the loom is silent
and the shuttles cease to fly
will God unroll the canvas
and explain the reason why
the dark threads are as needful
in the skillful weaver's hand
as the threads of gold and silver
in the pattern he has planned.
Grant Colfaz Tullar

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Girls' Camp and Summer Randomness

So after a few years of leaving my kids at home to go to girls' camps, this year Annie finally go to go with me!  It was a lot of fun and a memorable experience for both Annie and I.  Annie has been camping many times with our family, so camping wasn't a big deal to her.  She had a lot of fun with all the awesome girls in our ward. although I did have to remind her a few times that at camp I am her YW leader and not her mother- meaning I don't clean up after her or get her food or set up her tent for her, etc.

Our stake theme was "Keep calm and stand in holy places" and our ward theme was "Keep calm and learn." Our girls decided to put a nerdy twist on the theme and dress up with suspenders, nerdy glasses and pocket protectors. 

They put on an awesome skit that was set to the tune "Part of your world" but had the message of "Part of His World" where part of the girls were investigators singing their questions about the gospel and the other part were missionaries answering their questions and hoping they will all become "Part of His World."

At the end of camp Annie's award was "Mud Slingin', wasabi burnin' ginger hair camp beauty."  The mud slinging was from the beach day we had at Jordanelle and she and her friend Lauren got into a mud fight on the shore.  Unfortunately I didn't have my camera to record the ruckus.  But luckily the mud slinging too place next to a big ole' lake they could clean off it!  The "wasabi burning" refers to the 3 mile hike we went opn were our hike leader had wasabi almonds as a snack.  Not everyone would try them but Annie- true to her mother's form- isn't afraid to try new food so she had some.  She didn't mind the heat from the wasabi in her mouth but her eye sure didn't like it.  She had been having trouble with her contacts while on the hike and after she ate the almonds she didn't realize that the wasabi residue was on her fingers still when she went to rub her eye.  Poor girl had an angry wasabi red mark on her eye where she touched it for the rest of camp.  Then of course the "ginger hair camp beauty" refers to her beautiful red hair.
My camp award was a bit more scandalous and not nearly as glamourous.  (I can't imagine why not- see above photo!) I was awarded the "Cat/ cow twerkin', car pep talkin' kick boxer" award.  The young women were talking about a new dance all the "youngsters" :) are doing called "Twerking."  After showing it to me I decided I couldn't do it and still hold my temple recommend;)  so they taught me a milder version that involved arching my back like in the yoga move- "Cat/cow."  The "car pep talkin'" part is because when I was driving back to camp after Jordanelle with a carload of girls I was afraid my car wasn't going to make it up the steep canyon roads back to camp.  So I turned off the A/C and kept encouraging my car out loud.  Then the kick boxing part was because I was showing the girls my sweet kick boxing moves.  Yeah- they were pretty impressed and decided they wouldn't want to ever meet me in a dark alley!
Here is one last picture from camp. 
I thought all their suspenders made their bums look extra nice so we got a rear view picture of all the girls.  After looking at the picture I had decided that I need to teach Annie the art of the "hip pop" for pictures!

And speaking of "hip popping" here is a picture of Finn, Suzie & I doing hip pops in our Sunday afternoon aprons.  I was making cookies one Sunday and Suz decided she wanted to wear hers also.  And Finn- never one to be left out on any domestic goodness- pulled out the one he made in Home Ec last year and suddenly we were the "Apron Triplets" and needed a picture.
If you have ever seen the movie "17 Again" then you have heard the sentiment that Finn feels a lot these days- he is hungry all the time!
Here he is enjoying some hot wings he walked over to get from Little Caesar's one summer afternoon. 
Yesterday we were at a family reunion with my mom's side of the family.  We always eat really well, in my opinion, but apparently not in Finn's!  When he found out we were eating every meal with that side of the family Finn was a little discouraged.  When I asked him why he said, "When we have dinner with your family, I never feel completely full because they never have red meat.  It is always white meat."  Finn is a dyed in the wool red meat lover and he is right-  that side of the family doesn't eat a lot of red meat.  Could explain their smaller waistlines and long lives but that seems to be a trade -off Finn is willing to make in the name of filling his 14 year old bottomless pit!
One last summer-boredness inspired picture. 
My kids recently discovered that they could play roller derby with their roller-ball chairs (which everyone except Suzie has in their rooms) on the kitchen/living room wood floors.  It was a short lived though because once Dad got home and saw what they were doing he put a stop to it before the walls and cabinets got too damaged.  Man! Dad stops all Finn's good ideas- like the one he and his friend had last year to put the trampoline next to the shed and jump from the shed roof onto the trampoline!