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!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The strange world of 14 year old boys and the difference between my girls.

So this was the scene on our trampoline recently- Finn and a neighbor kid wrestling on our tramp with another kid looking on.  They were locked in the pose on the bottom picture for a good 10 minutes.  Annie was walking back and forth through the backyard getting stuff and when she came back in she said, "Finn and Kalian look like they are hugging." Pause "They have been like that for forever." Pause "I don't think anyone is going to win."  The whole thing really baffled both Annie and I but I'm assuming it is pretty normal behavior for 14 year old boys to act like bear cubs.  I know it is nothing to worry about but it does cause some problems when Finn tries to do these moves on his sisters!
And speaking of his sisters- I recently had an experience with Katie and Suzie that concisely shows one of the main differences between these two girls.  I had gone out into our garden to get some basil for a salad I was making.  Suzie and Katie were both standing by the sink when I went to rinse it off.  Katie said, "What is that digusting smell?" While at the same time Suzie picked up one of the basil leaves, held it to her nose and said, "This smells awesome!  What is it?"  Suz is destined to work in food.  What 6 year old enjoys the smell of basil?!?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Our 4th of July Holiday week

With 4th of July being in the middle of the week, we felt like we were celebrating all week long.  We had some highlights and some lowlights as well.

Getting to see some of my college roommates- some of whom I haven't seen in a few years.  It was great to catch up with these fun and amazing women
Lowlight: It was only for an afternoon- too short! (But I think Becky, Liz and Stacey will agree that it is my own fault it was too short.;)
 Watching the parade with lots of fun family and friends and ringing our "dingers" ( that one's for you mom!) as best as we could much to the embarrassment of my kids.
Lowlight: Having all the blankets I set out the night before to save our spot get soaking wet by the first rain we've seen in months and then trampled on by all the people setting up vendor tents right behind where we sat.
Another sad lowlight was having my aunt break her ankle in three places while walking to our spot in the park.  Luckily she was surrounded by paramedics within minutes because we sit by the end of the 5K route so there were still alot of them around.  And the park is right across the street from IMC so she got to be in the parade via an ambulance that took her across the street.  It was a pretty bad break.  So sorry Aunt Deirdre!
 Listening to Michael's clever parade banter.   Even though this nephew of mine looks a bit "special" in this picture- he really is a funny kid. When the floats with the different cities' royalty would come by he would he shout out, "My cousin here thinks you're hot!" while pointing to Finn.  Finn would smile and laugh sheepishly.
Lowlight: Having my neighbor's daughter get whacked in the neck by a flying otter pop that my brother-in-law threw out during the parade.
Watching the motorcycles pop wheelies.
Lowlight: Watching the zombies in the parade that are advertising the haunted house.  I do not enjoy this entry in the parade at all.

 Suzie and Katie doing some pretty sweet headstands in the Fun Days headstand contest!
Lowlight: Neither won but to quote Suzie, "At least I tried."
Getting to see Katie and Ava bust a move 3rd grader style!
No lowlight here- It was all pure joy!

Watching the street home-lit fireworks and the city fireworks.
Lowlight: Having one of the home-lit fireworks tip over and then go all haywire- firing into the bushes and within inches of people.

Watching Annie in her softball allstar tournament- unfortunately I forgot to take my camera.
Lowlight: Sitting in the 100 degree, humid weather on metal stands with very little shade and then they lost both of their tournament games.  But they gave it a good try and we still have one more tournament to go.  Hopefully I will try to bring my camera next time.
All in all- it was a great weekend!  Happy 4th!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The story of why I work

(Pre-reading warning: This is a very long post I wanted to record for myself, so if you don't have the time to read it all- at least scroll down to the last paragraph and watch the video.  Its a good one!)
So now that I am done with my first year teaching kindergarten and my first year back teaching after an eleven year hiatus, I thought it might be time to tell the story of why I have to work.  I taught for 5 years back in the late 90's and during that time I got married, had Finn and got pregnant with Annie.  Once I had Annie I was able to quit and I thought I would NEVER go back.  People would ask me, "Do you think you would ever go back to teaching?" And I would answer, "Well I would if I HAD to."  But really never believing that myself for two reasons-1. Because I didn't honestly believe I would ever HAVE to because if there's one thing my husband is good at- its being a good provider. 2. If I did happen to have to go back to work- I didn't want it to be teaching.  Only someone who has been a teacher- or at least tried to be a good teacher- truly understands how much work it is- especially your first couple of years.  You spend hours and hours preparing your lessons and the pay doesn't even come close to compensating you for your work.  In fact if I ever tried to figure out how much I make per hour based on the number of hours I work beyond my contract hours- I would be so depressed.  In fact just last night Eric and I figured out that one of our teenage neighbors makes more per month mowing lawns than I do teaching. And the problem when I was teaching before was that I never had the same grade two years in a row.  So I was always having to come up with new lesson plans.  So every year was my first.  So 12 years ago I left teaching and tried to not let the door hit me on the way out!
So fast forward about 10 years, 4 kids and life in general later- and I find myself not quite in the life I had planned.  Which, by the way, I could write a whole post about because whose life really does turn out the way they planned it?!?  I think that may be one of the points of life but I won't go down that philosophical road for the time being and just say that my plan of never having to work was slowly dissolving.  Eric was diagnosed with a potentially debilitating condition that could render his awesome "provider powers" useless if he didn't get the medication he needed to slow down the disease process.  And being a self- employed provider superhero, his insurance didn't cover the medication he needed.  And there was no way we could afford the medication on our own- can you say additional house payment?
At this point in my tale I am going to go one a little side journey.  Eric was diagnosed with this condition in 2007 and for about 3 years his doctor was trying lots of different treatments/ medications.  The aforementioned "house payment" med is a last resort- not only because of its price but also because if it doesn't work -nothing will.  We were coming close to the end of the road with the other treatments when I went on a little girls retreat with some friends to St George.  I was talking with a friend who was asking me that all too common question "Do you think you will ever go back to teaching?"  I half- heartedly said(because remember i didn't really want to ever go back to teaching) "Maybe if I could go part time because but it was hard to go part time these days because most districts have phased out job shares- unless of course I taught kindergarten."  To which she replied, "You would make an awesome kindergarten teacher."  As soon as she said that I had an experience I have only had maybe once or twice in my life.  It was like those words completely skipped my ears and brain and went straight to my heart.  I immediately knew that was what I was going to have to do.  It was such a peaceful feeling, very unlike the feeling I had had before when I even thought about going back to teaching before, that I knew it was beyond me.  And it important to note that this conversation happened about a month before this next one.
Eric and I were driving somewhere and he started talking about his latest doctor visit for his condition.  The conversation went something like this: his doctor said he needed to figure out a way to get the "house payment" medication because nothing else is working and if he goes untreated he would be in a wheelchair by the time he was 45.  And the only way he could figure out to make it all work would be for me to go back to teaching so we could get government insurance- which despite the lousy pay- is a great benefit for teaching.  I think if I hadn't had the previous experience I would have been a lot more resistant to the idea of going back to teaching.  But because my heart had already been prepared, my reaction was "Well, of course that's what we'll do." 
So 3 months later I was signing up for courses at the University of Utah to get my early childhood license and now 2 and 1/2 years after that I have finished my first year back.  So needless to say I have felt very "supported" on this journey back to teaching and having to work part time outside the home.  I don't want to sound overly sentimental or trite, but I really do feel like the Lord provided the way not only for my going back to school, but also in finding a job.  There are few part time jobs out there where one can get health insurance but I just happen to have a degree in one of them- for which Eric and I are very grateful.  Between my insurance and a copay assist program Eric's "house payment" medication is covered 100%!!!! (Although who knows what "Obama Care" may do to that benefit but again- a different post!)
But I wanted to record down some of the funny things my first year kindergarteners have said over the past year because I tell you what- 5 year olds are pretty darn funny!
*At the beginning of the year my mom came in to help on Fridays.  Then halfway through the year she stopped coming because she was getting ready to go on a mission to Vegas.  The last Friday she was there she explained to the kids why she wasn't coming anymore- because she was going on a mission.  She didn't really explain what this entailed or that it was a church service mission because one of the kid's questions was whether or not she got to carry a gun on her mission!
*I work in a very low income school where the kids speak 31 different languages.  Luckily the only languages spoken in my class this year were english and spanish and even though my spanish is limited- I took two years in high school- I can still understand and speak un poquito.  The kids LOVED it when I tried to speak spanish.  And I did get to learn some spanish swear words!  But I had one student who had much more than a language barrier going on.  He was very immature and I had a suspicion that he had some sort of developmental delay.  But there are a lot of hoops you have to jump through to get a child qualified for special education, especially when the parents are not on board or don't understand you- which was both the cases for this child.  I had to be constantly assessing these kids on the kindergarten requisite skills- one of which is counting.  I had to record how high each kid could count and this kid counted like this- "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, chicken".  Funny enough there was no "chicken" spot on the numbers recording sheet!
*I had one extremely complimentary student.  He was always telling me how pretty I looked.  Needless to say he was one of my favorites!  One day we were at recess and he told me all the girls in kindergarten he thought were pretty.  And I must say he had really good taste!;)
*Another thing I have to assess is how well the kids can read sight words.  There are 25 required words the kids should be able to read by the end of the year.  At the end of the year I was testing one particular boy and he was cruising through them- not an easy feat and one not everyone can do.  After he finished he looked up at me and said, "I'm like a machine!"  Yes he was!
*In this day and age- besides fire and earthquake drills- we also have to do lockdown drills.  Our school has protocol for both a soft and a hard lockdown and by their names you can guess that one is more intense and intrusive than the other  We were getting ready for a hard lockdown drill and I was trying to explain to the students under what circumstances we would have a hard lockdown.  This is a tricky thing to explain to 5 year olds because they are very curious and need to be given some information to keep them from getting upset, yet too much information isn't a good thing either.  So I went with this explanation- "We are doing this drill so we can be ready in case anything dangerous comes in our school."  One kid raised his hand and said, "Like if a tiger comes in our school?" Exactly!  If a tiger ever came in our school, we would for sure need to go into a hard lockdown!
*And by far this is my favorite story from the year- I was handing out papers and the students started asking me questions like "Do you have a house?" or "Do you have a bedroom?" One kid asked me if I work.  With a smile I said "Yes, I work.  In fact I'm at work right now."  One little girl's eyes got real wide and she said "You work here?!?" 
And in case you ever wonder what it is like to teach kindergarten, this video sums up very nicely what I do for 3 hours a day:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Soccer Season

Katie just finished her spring soccer season.  She has played before but it has been a couple of seasons.  What she lacks in skill, she makes up for in scrappiness!  She is quite the little speedster.  It was amazing to watch her little legs move her across the field.  It was like her legs went twice as fast as the players around her.  And they very well could have because she is about half the size of some of the other players.  She is picking up the skills of the sport and even though she never made a goal she made some great passes and was a fantastic defender.
Even though she played in a rec league, her team was quite competitive.  This was in part because of their coach.  He was such a great coach but he sure liked to win.  It was kind of entertaining to watch him on the sidelines.  It was like you could physically see the battle within himself of trying to balance the strong desire to win and the delicate egos of 8 and 9 year old girls. While on the sidelines the girls who weren't in the game, would pepper him with questions like "Did you notice my new haircut? or Do you want to see our secret handshake? or Watch me do this handstand!"  He would try to validate them but let's be honest what 30+ man notices even when his own wife gets a haircut, let alone one of 10 girls on his soccer team?!?  He was constantly trying to redirect their focus back to the game.  And being a person who is a professional redirector of children's attention, it made me smile to watch. 
My very favorite of these moments was after the game.  The coach would gather all the girls around and they would have a little breakdown/debrief of the game.  Coach would ask things like "So what went well during the game?" or "What do you like about soccer?"  Without fail some girl would pull the conversation off topic and soon they were talking everything but soccer.  It was hilarous to watch the coach's face.  It went something like this:
But he really was a great coach and we would request him again for a great non-competitive winning season!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

There is beauty all around

Recently I have been finding signs like these on my girls' doors.

First Annie, then Katie, then Suzie.  They each have their own rooms but finding these signs is kind of funny because they are often asking if they can sleep in each other's rooms- especially when they are scared at night.  (I refuse to let my kids sleep with Eric and I because they are all perpendicular sleepers-meaning they don't sleep laying next to me, rather they sleep with their feet in my back.  So I have offered to let them sleep on the floor next to my bed but none of them have taken me up on the offer because our bed is raised off the ground about 6 inches and their imaginations run wild with what could potential crawl out of those 6 inches.)
So really these signs should read "No siblings permitted- except when I hear noises at night and think hobos are crawling out of my ceiling." (Their a hole in Annie's ceiling about 6 inches in diameter that we have never patched up from some pipe repair we had to make a few years ago and she swears a hobo lives up there.  Although I think only a hobbit hobo could fit through the opening!)
Anyway I was looking closer at the sign on Katie's door and noticed that in attempt to not copy her sister outright, choose to have her sign say,
"No siblings prohibited"
Uh- Katie- I don't think that means what you think it means!
And even though I don't let Suzie sleep with me-she's the worst of the perpendicular sleepers- I will let her cuddle with me at night.  She is my most affectionate child and one night while she was laying in bed with me watching TV she asked me,"Mom, who do you like to cuddle with the most- Dad, me or the blanket?"
Mom: Dad
Suzie: Why?
Mom: Cause he's soft and squishy
Suzie: And what am I -hard and talky?
I don't know about the "hard" part, but as my sister can attest, she is most definitely "talky."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My kids aren't the only ones getting awards around here!

Since we are approaching the season of end of the year assemblies and awards being given for straight A's, perfect attendance and all around awesomeness- I thought I would throw out my own recent award. 

That's right I got a "Dream Big " award from Arby's.  It's kinda big deal!;) Not really but I did get to have my picture posted at the Arby's close to the school I teach at along with two of my students.  Since my kids ADORE Arby's I took them there one evening and made them take a picture of me with my award and my picture. 

And even though this award isn't that big of an accomplishment, the little girl who is pictured below me, is one of my biggest accomplishments this year.  One the first day of kindergarten she screamed for two hours- no exaggerating!  Then she spent the first three months running around the room and crying whenever anything new or out of the ordinary happened-like the day I switched seats.  She took her name tag off her new seat and proceeded to rip off the name tag where she use to sit and replace it with hers.  She also vehemently refused to go with anyone to do any sort of testing- which if you are familiar with any school environment these days- that happens ALL the time.  But after some pretty intense behavior modification over the past 6 months, I am proud to say she is much more well-adjusted to a classroom environment.  She goes with just about anyone to do testing without complaint and she has learned to handle change a bit more gracefully.  She still has her moments but she has done an almost complete 180.  And I can honestly say I will miss her next year.  Which I can't say for all my students!;)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Viva Spring Break

This year's spring break wasn't as nearly as eventful as last year's- in a good way!  After going through about five different ideas for spring break that ranged from Yosemite to Grand Targhee, we finally decided on the most obvious choice- St George.  It was so obvious because my parents, who are currently on a mission in Las Vegas, had their time share week for part of the same week as our Spring break.  So we decide to not pass up free lodging and the opportunity to see grandma and grandpa. And bonus- my sister, Natalie and her family were going down too so we got to spend time with them too. We spent the week swimming, hiking in Snow Canyon and playing.

We also went down to Las Vegas to see Grandma and Grandpa.  We decided that since we were in Las Vegas, we should go down to the strip. My kids really wanted to go to M&M world. But after hiking over 16 blocks to and from M&M world from where we were parked to discover that M&M world is really just 4 levels of stores, lets just say my kids are so over the strip.  I told them it was like the hikes we take when we go to National Parks, but with different scenery. 


Not sure it was the best decision to take my kids- it was quite the education for them.  I knew it was a very stimulating environment to say the least because I had been there about 13 years ago.  But it is a whole new experience when you take your 14 year old son.  He couldn't look up at the buildings for the billboards, he couldn't look down at the street for the fliers and he couldn't look to the side for the bus signs.  I really wish I had brought some blinders for him.  But he was a good sport and it did create some good jumping off points for some good conversations with our kids on the way home.  The best quote of the day was by Suz.  We were walking out of the Venetian after having lunch there.  It is one of the hotels where you don't have to walk through the casino to get to the food.  But we got a little turned around and ended up walking by the casino on our way out.  Suz turned and looked at all the slot machines and said, "Oh- so this is where the arcade is!"
We decided next time we go to visit my parents, we will do our sight-seeing at the Las Vegas temple instead.  And after talking to my friend Lori- the fountain of all knowledge, I've come to find out that there are some pretty cool sights that are family friendly in Vegas- and a real candy factory that I think is more like what my kids were envisioning when they heard M&M world.  So next time, Mom, I have some great places to go!
But all in all-it was worth it to spent time with these people!