Monday, January 23, 2017

Two Christmas Carols

Last pictures from Christmas 2016--now that January 2017 is almost over. I found these forgotten gems and wanted to make sure the memories were recorded.

I took the kids to see "A Christmas Carol" at Hale Theatre for two reasons--1) I love it, and I love to listen to my kids as they understand the story (Micah had to memorize parts of it for English this year, so he actually quoted it as it went along; and 2) We knew a few of the actors in the show this year.

Eric and Micah have quickly become best buddies. It's crazy how alike these little guys are. They have many of the same classes together, they played on the same football team, and now they're playing rugby together. Can you tell from these pictures who is used to mugging for the camera after a performance and who isn't?
I tried to get Micah to smile, but he couldn't take it seriously.
Here's the crew we took--love these kids of mine.
Brad's sister Amy arranged for both of our extended families to sing at a nursing home a few days before Christmas. Here's Sam trying to get the littlest ones to stay on the sidewalk and avoid the parking lot. Micah was showing them how to stand.

The bigger guys were waiting their turns as well.
 I was surprised that our two families could present such a diverse program of instruments--Amy played the flute, her daughter-in-law, Alina, played the harp, Joe played jazz guitar, Micah played a piano solo, and I played for everyone else to sing a few carols. The biggest surprise of all was when Karli walked into the back of the room with Baby Eli strapped to her chest. He was four days old, and she sang, "O Holy Night" without any rehearsal and nailed every note. Her diaphragm must be shot after nine months of pregnancy and delivery, but she sounded incredible. I guess that's what a professional does.

The little ones did their best to stay still and sing. Nathan loved the snowy Christmas village display and even stifled his desire to touch it all.
These two didn't do a whole lot of singing, but the pocket full of Smarties that Sam brought did come in handy to keep them quiet while others were performing.
My favorite part of the whole afternoon was watching the little kids hand out cookies and oranges to the residents. One lady said that they rarely get to see little kids and that it was one of the best Christmas presents she could wish for.

I'm so glad Amy put that all together for us, and I hope it becomes a yearly tradition.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Saturday Stories in 2017--Scholastic Books

Eve and I were snuggled up on the couch after watching “Maleficent” when she wandered into the library for some books to read while I graded essay tests. She came back with a small stack and asked, “Mom, do you remember reading this book all the time when I was little?”

I remember reading that book all the time when I was little, my girl.

My family didn’t do Scholastic book orders very often—why, I don’t really know. All the other kids would give checks to the teacher from their moms in a special envelope marked Book Order and I wouldn’t. They would wait for their packages of books, posters, pencils, and shaped erasers and I wouldn’t.

But one very special time, Mom let me order my own book. Did I have my own money or did she treat me—I don’t remember that, either. I don’t remember why I ordered the book I did, but from the moment it arrived at the school in a clear bag with my name on the top, I loved it.

Stand Back, Said the Elephant! I’m Going to Sneeze! It’s not a literary work of art or a classic or even one known by most people. But it was mine, and it was quickly a favorite. I read it over and over until I had the entire book memorized. I created different voices for each of the animals as they tried to convince the elephant how dangerous his sneeze would be—a dignified deep voice for the crocodile, a bumbling silly voice for the bear, and a Scarlett O'Hara inspired Southern accent for the four words said by the fly. I thought myself quite the actress managing all those voices as I read.
As a teenager, I allowed my younger sisters to use the book, which by that time had lost its cover, exposing the strings that held the binding together. I read it to them on occasion, but I’m sure it wasn’t often that I found the time in my busy high school world. It’s not a quick read for a picture book, but the final page always made them laugh, and not softly either, as the mouse asks the elephant from a puddle of water.

When I got married, Mom gave me a box filled with stuff (including books from my childhood) that Brad and I placed in a storage closet on the porch of our first home—a one-bedroom basement apartment in Provo, Utah. Just a few weeks later, that closet flooded, and the books, which happened to be on the bottom, were ruined. I was heartsick, since I’d been saving them since I was a girl to share with my own children. Some were replaced, others tossed, and some were saved, but all were mourned. Sadly, Stand Back didn’t survive the flood of ’89, and I couldn’t find a replacement.

Fast forward a few years. We had a few small children and I was walking through a bookstore. There on the shelf was my book—shiny and ready for me to share with my children. First published in 1971, it was back in print (this time with enhanced colors), and I scooped it up before anyone else could buy it. I was so excited about my purchase that I gathered a whole group of kids (including Heidi and Tucker) on a family campout that weekend to share with them the story of the crazy elephant whose belly laughs are just as damaging as his sneezes. I know they don’t remember sitting under that Ponderosa pine and reading, but I always will.

The book still sits on our library shelf, and I’ve read it to a few of my grandkids, three generations now of kids who know the damage that comes when elephants sneeze. Each time my kids bring home a book order from school, I think of that moment, 40 years ago now, when I bought my very first, very own book.

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.