Friday, January 20, 2017

A Little Drop of Rain

Arizona kids are accustomed to rain being a fleeting, warm weather experience. This winter has been wetter than any I remember in our 22 winters here, but the kids don't seem to think it needs to be summer to enjoy it. Micah, Hyrum, and two of their friends spent one Saturday afternoon outside shooting hoops, getting soaked, and laughing at the cold.

I sheltered in the garage to take the picture, because 22 winters in AZ have thinned my blood, and I can't take the cold at all.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Christmas Concert

Scrolling through my files I found a few pictures from Christmas I never posted.

Eve sang with Miss Jenee again this past fall. Even though she loves Jenee and singing, she often gets a little scared just before the show starts.
Then--the fear disappears once the singing starts.

A scheduling mixup for the theater forced the time with Santa to be short, and I'm mad that this is the only picture I got with my girls together. Lily worked this past semester in Eve's class, and she did a great job with the girls.
They loved Lily--her bubbly personality and crazy dance moves. I wish I had a better picture to remember this time in their lives. They're so far apart in age that their activities rarely coincide. Maybe next semester.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Most Incredible Sunset

My goal last year of watching the sun set each night has developed into a permanent mark to the end of my day. The kids even point them out to me, and I'm glad I'm still carrying this little part of 2016 around with me.

After photographing the sky every night for an entire year, I consider myself a bit of a sunset expert. And I think this sunset last week may be one of the most spectacular of my life. We were driving to Sam's Club for Family Home Evening dinner and shopping, so I couldn't get a fantastic picture of it, but Hyrum took over for me.
This is the only one he took from the moving car that wasn't too blurry. The sky was on fire for almost five minutes. The photos don't do the sky justice.

By the time we stopped, this is how it looked.
I wish the photos could record how incredible it truly was the night of January 9, 2017, but I'm posting so I don't forget the night the sky caught fire.

Here's to many more evenings marking the end of the day this way.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Seventh Grade Adventures

Micah is growing up. And before boys can grow up, they go through a really silly, crazy, wild stage, usually coinciding with junior high. That's where he is these days.

He does do a few calm things, like go to the temple with his sister.
Or even with his friends. But look at the mischief still behind those eyes!
It took a while to get the boys to be serious enough for a presentable picture.
Micah doesn't have a cell phone (much to his dismay), but he does use mine occasionally to text his friends. 

And to snap random selfies whenever I leave it unattended. 

Portrait with a sucker

Nerf gun Christmas

Pakistani Micah 

Blurry boy face

Usually, it isn't just one shot--it's dozens of the same thing.

Tribute to Warhol
This one cracks me up--he snagged my phone while I was locking the gate at school. See me in the background?

Newest passion

Man pony (or time for a haircut)
If he had a phone of his own, I'd miss out on seeing all of these hilarious selfies. Love this kid.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Tributes to Bob Tickner and Galen Guess

Seven years ago, I wrote about my favorite teacher of all time, Bob Tickner. I wrote about how he touched my life through his teaching, but when I wrote that post, I never dreamed I would have the chance to pass his legacy on to a new group of scholars. I knew that one of the first activities I wanted to do with my classes was voting in the 2016 presidential election.

Making a map big enough for my huge classroom was the biggest challenge. I borrowed an overhead projector from a friend and used the biggest blank wall I could find--in the garage.
Why do projects that seem so simple end up taking forever? The states weren't perfectly sized, but I kept reminding myself it was a civics experiment, not a cartography lesson.

This map may look confusing to you (New York written on PA and OH). Let me explain. Each of my classes is divided into states, and each state chose its own name. When students drew for the election, they wrote the name of their state, not the name of the actual state, on their paper. Students researched candidate platforms, weighed the issues, held discussions in class, then cast their state's electoral votes. Red for Trump, blue for Clinton (lone Indiana), white for Johnson, purple for McMullin.
I hope they always remember the first election where they "cast a ballot" for president. It was a fun activity, especially when the actual election was determined by the electoral college and not the popular vote. They understand how that works and hopefully won't forget it.

As the semester wound down, I knew there was another favorite teacher of mine that I wanted to copy in my classroom--Galen Guess. Mr. Guess was a science teacher in Twin Falls School District who wore a long beard and brown polyester suits. His passion for geology and science was contagious, and he involved his students outside the textbook. He blew up garbage cans with sodium to teach us about chemical reactions. He forced us to question our previous understanding and expand our thinking. And he played "Fastest Sock in the West" with us--a ball of socks used to hit answers to questions all around the room.

My room is too big to post the answers everywhere, but I did put them on the back wall.
Instead of socks, we used Nerf guns, and it was fun.

I love teaching, and I will always be grateful for the fantastic teachers I had growing up in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday Stories in 2017--Dixie High School Class of '67

I'm dedicating 2017's Saturdays to stories from my life or from my family. Here's one I remember about my mom.

She’s always been my mom. She sewed for us, cooked for us, taught us how to clean a toilet, and enforced piano practicing. She came to our games and our plays and our church activities. I vividly remember the night I realized she was a person before she was Mom.

Dad and Gary were off on a Fathers’ and Sons’ outing, my younger sisters were asleep, and while I’ve always been someone who likes to go to bed early, I didn’t want to sleep yet. Mom and I were downstairs in the 70s family room of the house I grew up in—green shag carpet and mirror wallpaper—she was probably sewing or ironing while I sat on the couch watching TV. What motivated me to pull out one of her old yearbooks, I don’t remember, but I will never forget that night.

My mom went to high school! She participated in drama and loved to do readings. That blew my mind. My dad is the more vocal of my parents, and I always thought I’d inherited my tendencies toward the dramatic from him, but my mom was in plays?

My mom was a writer! She wrote poetry and had some of her stuff published by Dixie High School. I’d seen Mom write in her journal occasionally, and she wrote letters to my grandparents in Utah (those were the days), but she used to write for fun?

My mom was a student body officer! She lived a dream I would never fulfill. How was my fairly quiet, almost always behind the scenes, supportive mom ever so . . . outgoing?

I squealed with each new revelation, and I anxiously turned the black and white pages searching for photographs of my mom when she was young. Sophomore class—look for the O page—there she was, Diana Olsen. School play group photo—sitting right there on the side. Yearbooks led to dance pictures and stories of dating my dad, making her own dresses, and dragging Main Street.

These stories opened a magical world for me, one I never knew existed—the world of my mother before I was born. Sparkles lit her eyes that I’d never seen before as she told story after story about small town St. George, Utah, in the 60s and her friends, Lorelei (who shared my mom’s birthday), Cathy, and her best friend, Bonnie. Others wove through her story—Carmen, Kenny, and I’ll never forget the name Gary Picklesimer. I saw them in photographs and in my mind, together with my mom and her attempts to beehive her fine, thin hair. We stayed up well past midnight, huddled there with her on the couch and me on the floor with yearbooks, albums, and loose photographs, laughing and talking like friends. I loved seeing this side of her, and I didn’t want the night to end. I sat at the kitchen table the next morning, and things were different between Mom and me—like I’d grown up overnight as she’d let me into her other life, before any of us. My sisters ate their breakfast, unaware of the change. But we knew.

I was only in junior high at the time, but this late night look into my mother’s high school years created a bond that hasn’t dimmed in over 30 years. When I offered to take her anywhere in the country on a trip, just the two of us, I was happy when she suggested St. George. She hadn’t been back for more than a few days since she got married in 1967, and that’s the only place she wanted to see. I’d seen all of her places and met all of her people decades before on the floor of our family room, and it was time we meet in person.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Gus Gets a Bath

Hyrum loves to spend money. I mean, he can't hold onto a dollar for more than an afternoon without begging to go to Target or The Soda Shop or GameStop or anywhere he can go to spend it. He's very generous with his funds, willing to buy treats and surprises for friends and family on his adventures.

This generosity of spirit, however, often comes back to bite him when something big comes along. I can't remember why, but he needed $10 for something--I think it was the school carnival--or he couldn't go.

"Mom, do you have any jobs I could do to earn that money?"

"Well, Gus needs a bath. You could wash him and vacuum him out. I'd pay you $10 for that."
Before I knew it, he was back downstairs in his swimsuit, towels and rags in hand, asking me to show him how to wash the car.

For a short guy, he did a great job (it doesn't hurt that Gus is short, too). His first time cleaning the car was worth $10 to him and to me.
Don't think he loved it, though. When I asked him to do it again a few weeks later, he couldn't be enticed, no matter the fee.

I'm not worried. I'm sure he'll need funds again sometime. And Gus almost always needs a bath.